Reel Religion and Real Clergy: A Comparison of Information Use by the Fictional and Factual Faithful
A proposal by:
Marianne Ryan, Associate University Librarian for Public Services at Northwestern University Library
Mark Stover, Dean of the Library at California State University, Northridge
Annual Conference on Information and Religion
Kent State University
From its inception, cinema has been used to portray the information seeking and dissemination practices of clergy and, by extension, to present perspectives on religion and religious organizations. Initially fairly simplistic, these depictions of priests, ministers, rabbis, and nuns have become more sophisticated over time, keeping pace with changing social mores and evolving technologies.
In this session, presenters will explore this aspect of how clergy are portrayed in film. They will examine a decade-by-decade sample of cinematic clergy and suggest how these figures searched for, received, and shared information. The presenters will compare film depictions of information use behavior among clergy with analogous practices among actual faith-based professionals. They will also explore ways in which clergy in the movies used information (and information technology) in their roles in ways which may have influenced viewers’ perceptions of religion and religious groups.