Kirby, D., and Cusack, C. (eds.)
Religion and Media. 4 volumes. New York: Routledge, 2017
This is a 4 volume series, mapping out some of the broad themes in the academic study of religion and media. It’s just under 80 chapters long, and does pretty much exactly what it says on the box.
Drawing together formative works from across the interrelated disciplines of religion and media, this collection will articulate the field of religion and media. Incorporating both historical and contemporary concerns, and a range of methodological approaches, this major work will focus upon the variety of ways in which religion and media impact, facilitate, and imbricate with each other.
The field encompassed by this collection is constantly changing and diverse. It covers a range of inquiry, from the age old questions regarding traditional human mediation of religious experience to the emerging problems associated with the study of religion and digital media and other developing technologies. Religion is mediated in a multitude of ways, including through the written word, artistic expression, electronic and digital technologies such as television and internet, as well as more evanescent modes such as ritual and performance. This series recognises the role that diverse media play in the interpretation and understanding of religion in the work of scholars and in the lives of religious individuals and communities.
The intersection of media and communication studies and religious studies is woefully under-representative of the relationship that media and religion has in theory, history and lived experience. The two disciplines have recently begun to address this, increasingly bringing together subjects from both fields. Thus a collection that compiles both foundational as well as recent scholarship on religion and media is a welcome addition, representing where the interest began but also moving scholarship in future directions. The work’s interpretation of ‘religion’ is broad, and encompasses not just religions traditionally recognised as such (eg. ‘world religions’) but also a more fluid recognition of religious behaviour (such as religions based on fiction or more abstract religious themes such as death).