Monday, August 26, 2013

Considering the relationship between religion and media

In this course we will be looking critically at the relationship between Jewish & Muslim communities and the media. This includes identifying the assumptions different parties carry and promote both about the role media plays in society,  and how religion is conceived and understood. It is important that we when studying the relationship between media, religion and culture we carefully reflect on how media outlets promotes certain view about religion, as well as how religious groups may frame media with certain assumptions.

Potential conflicts and misunderstandings between religion and media were exemplified in early August when Fox news aired an interview with Religious Studies Scholar Reza Aslan. While the interview was slated to be a review of his controversial new book "Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth" the encounter between Aslan and the Fox Anchor highlighted a number of tension and stereotypes about how religion is understood and should be communicated about in media culture.  One of the key issues emerged in the news reporters objection that someone from a Muslim background could speak and write about another faith tradition. Their exchange highlighted a number of stereotype and assumptions about how religion should be viewed and engaged with in the public sphere Please review this article about the event "Video: U.S. scholar Reza Aslan’s book no.1 after botched Fox interview" and its featured video interview. 

Please watch the Fox interview and reflect on the following questions:

What assumptions does the Fox reporter have about Islam and the field of religious studies?
What assumptions does Aslan stress about religion and the role of religious scholarship in society?
What does this clip illustrated about the relationship and possible tensions between religion and media in popular media culture?

Please post your thoughts on these issues in a 50-100 word response as a comment to this blog, and come prepared to discuss these and your classmate responses at the next class meeting.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Welcome to study of Judaism, Islam and the Media

Welcome to the blog for the Freshman Critical Thinking Seminar exploring Representations and Response related to Judaism, Islam and the Media held at Texas A&M University during Fall 2013. The aim of this class is to will explore Jewish and Muslim groups  relationship to mass and new forms of media. In our readings and discussions online and in the classroom we will explore how Jews and Muslims are represented in popular media and how these framing influence religious communities perceptions and responses to different forms of media.  This blog is a space for student reflection on issues raised in the class as well as the space where you will post your weekly questions and "aha moment" observations on assigned reading. I look forward to a great semester of learning together.  -Dr Heidi Campbell