Buddhism and American Film

full name / name of organization: 
University of Connecticut at Stamford/National University of Singapore

This is an open call for submission of completed or nearly completed essays for inclusion in a volume on Buddhism and American film.

The essays selected will appear in a contracted book on Buddhism and film entitled Moving Pictures: Buddhism and American Cinema. Aimed at a readership across a wide range of disciplines, this book is intended to advance an already lively exchange between film and literary scholars, philosophers, and religious theorists. In addition to close readings of specific films, we are looking for discussions of particular directors or actors; the pluralization of Buddhism in film (e.g., a comparative analysis of Theravadan and Mahayanist influences); analytical approaches to groups of films; postmodernist trends as these may relate to Buddhism, and so forth.

Possible topics, with the editors' special preferences in listed order, include the following:
• Denominations of Buddhism: How does the pluralization of Buddhism—e.g., Theravadan and Mahayanist Buddhism—relate to filmic narrative and theme?
• Buddhist Film Conferences: How have recent Buddhist film conferences, both national and international, contributed to the presence of Buddhism in film?
• Internationalism: How useful are comparisons between US films and Asian films about Buddhism?
• Buddhism Co-opted?: Has Hollywood commercialized Buddhism, or does Buddhist cinema reveal a dialectical exchange between cultural materialism and spiritual values?
• Comparative Religion: What are connections made between Buddhism and other world religions (especially Christianity and Judaism) in American film? What specific points of comparison between Buddhism and other religions may be used to dramatize Buddhist principles? How might these connections be used to interpret a filmic text?
• Buddhism and Contemporary Psychology: what are the points of connection between Buddhism and cognitive psychology research (e.g., Aaron Beck)? The "positive psychology" movement (e.g., Marvin Levine, Martin Seligman)? The research in "Flow" (e.g., Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi)? How does this psychology permeate characters in recent "happiness" films?

Please submit, in electronic format in MS Word, the complete or nearly complete essay and a two-page CV to both Gary Storhoff (gary.storhoff@uconn.edu) and John Whalen-Bridge (ellwbj@nus.edu.sg)

The deadline for essays is 31 October 2009 .The length for completed articles is 3,000-6,500 words, including all notes and bibliographical citations (use MLA Style Manual, 2nd ed.). This volume on film will be the fourth in a series of books on Buddhism and American Studies, published by the SUNY Press. The first volume in this series, The Emergence of Buddhist American Literature was published June, 2009; the second volume will appear in May, 2010.