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Reflection on the end of the Place of Religion in Film Conference

The Place of Religion in Film cover photo

The Place of Religion in Film cover photo

April 6, 2017
Last Weekend, March 31-April 1, the Department of Religion hosted the Ray Smith Symposium: The Place of Religion in Film, Thank you very much to all of the plenary speakers (Sara Horowitz, June Hwang, & Joaquim Pinto), conference presenters, and attendees. The lingering conversations and lively intellectual engagement with one another are what truly make conferences a fruitful endeavor. Prof. Zachary Braiterman writing about his experience of the conference states: "In the “best” films, if the divine or “the spiritual” make an appearance it is always sensed obliquely in the wake of some lived apprehension of the world." Conference organizers, Prof. M. Gail Hamner  (Religion) and Rebecca A. Moody (Ph.D. candidate, Religion) gathered scholars from ten countries and ten U.S. states. The robust international presence assured an unusually diverse and interdisciplinary discussion. The Symposium also foregrounded student work and training. At the opening dinner Rebecca Moody presented her Fulbright research on Moroccan film, and Ithaca College undergraduate, Dani Hobbs, screened her senior thesis film, "Good Neighbors" about refugees in Buffalo, NY. Then on Saturday, the conference hosted a mentoring lunch for graduate students wishing to teach religion and film, facilitated by Ithaca College Professor, Rachel Wagner, and funded by Peter Vanable, Associate Provost for Graduate Studies and Dean of the Graduate School. The Ray Smith Symposium is funded by Syracuse University Humanities Council, with support from Dean Karin Ruhlandt. Additional funding for this year's Symposium was provided by the Religion Department, the Humanities Center, the Graduate School, the English Department (with particular support from Prof. Roger Hallas), the Newhouse Department of Television, Radio and Film (with particular support from Prof. Tula Goenka), the Department of Languages, Literatures and Linguistics, and the Philosophy Department. Joaquim Pinto’s plenary session was made possible in part with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts’ 2017 Electronic Media and Film Presentation Funds Grant program, administered by The ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes.