Film as a Tool for Public Discourse: Race and Gender

Independent Sections
7 weeks
Weekly Study
Mar 25-May 12
Register By
April 1, 2021

Films have the capability of doing more than just entertaining us; they provide a literal lens for us to see more intimately the world in which we live. They are an important means of cultural communication, highlighting shared human struggles and providing a space for us to pause and reflect on our place and purpose in the world. In some cases they even inspire a call to action, creating social impact.

As authors Robert K. Johnston and Catherine M. Barsotti note in their book Finding God in the Movies, film also has the power to stimulate or communicate theological reflection in the viewer. When we watch a film, we might listen for its message and then compare and contrast it with the message of the Word of God. What truth can we draw from the film or where is truth being misrepresented? How might we engage others in a conversation around spiritual truth drawing from examples in the film? In this series of courses, participants will discover how films can be part of our toolbox to engage with others in two-way meaningful conversations about the discourses of society, with a focus on the search for Truth.

This first course in the series focuses on race and gender. The teachings of Baháʼu'lláh, Founder of the Bahá'í Faith, emphasize both the oneness of humankind and the equality of women and men, noting that all have a purpose in contributing to the advancement of society. Yet, we find that in the world’s current adolescence women and people of color continue to face barriers in their attempt to make their rightful contributions. The films reviewed in this course highlight the history of social practices that have continued to result in oppression, create awareness of our implicit biases, promote racial amity and gender parity and help to heal and transform our hearts and minds. Through this powerful form of visual storytelling, we are given the opportunity to learn about one other’s lived experiences and overcome our prejudices, leading to the formation of genuine bonds of friendship, engagement in meaningful conversations and unifying together as agents of change, walking a path of service towards a more socially just society.

Guest Lecturer

Derik Smith

Derik Smith is a professor in the Department of Literature at Claremont McKenna College. His work focuses on African American literary culture, with a particular interest in poetry. He also teaches and writes about representations of blackness in American filmic and musical culture. Smith regularly teaches courses in American prisons and nurtures activist interests in prison studies and pedagogy. He and his family live in Southern California.

Meet Your Faculty
Anne Perry, PhD
Professor, The Art Institute of Dallas

After two interdisciplinary MA degrees, I pursued my PhD in Aesthetic Studies, with a focus on both art and religion. I teach writing, humanities, and film and art appreciation at the Art Institute of Dallas and two community colleges, as well as serving as an instructor for the Wilmette Institute.... See Faculty Bio

Tara Jabbari, MA
Digital Media Consultant and Producer

Tara Jabbari has a Masters in Communication, Culture, & Technology from Georgetown University and Bachelors in Electronic Media from Bradley University. Her academic studies included fandoms in the digital age and how our communication has changed personally and professionally in the digital age. She also is a podcaster, starting Who was... See Faculty Bio

Christina Wright, MPhil
Film, Television and Theater Instructor, Screenwriter & Character Education and Leadership Development Facilitator

Christina Wright has a Master of Philosophy in Film Theory & History from Trinity College Dublin, a Bachelors in Drama from San Francisco State University and an Associates in Speech Communications from Foothill College. Christina is an Adjunct Faculty member of the Film and Television Department at De Anza College... See Faculty Bio

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