Faith in Fiction and Film: Mysteries of the Catholic Tradition

House Course Number: 
HOUSECS 59.06
Day-Time-Place: 
Monday, 6:00 - 7:30 PM Few GG 101CM
Sponsor/Department: 
Peter Arcidiacono, Economics
Instructor(s): 
Luke Duchemin, luke.duchemin@duke.edu
Class Limit: 
15

What is the relationship between faith and fictions?

Flannery O’Connor’s words will be our touchstone for resolving this question—no human formula will make the mysteries of faith, let alone the sacramental Catholic faith, self-evident. In fact, we will investigate how the human formula (fiction) is integrated by a superhuman formula (faith), how the mystery is made evident (or perhaps even more confounding!) through the manners of men and women. Contact points between the visible and the invisible, the natural and the supernatural, between humanity and God are sacraments. Sacraments are conduits of grace—ethereal, ambiguous, and transcendent “spirit”—channeled through a mess of man and material “stuff.”

It is the concern of the fiction writer to inquire about preconceived notions and their audience. No background knowledge or religious background is required. Our concerns over the course will not be simply the theological, but will focus on the aesthetic, the actors, and the author. We will explore how author, characters, readers, and viewers can float between the mystical and the material. Specifically, we will explore the inner workings of the sacramental life of the Catholic Church—as demarcated by monoliths of Catholic miraculous and mystical tradition.