In René Girard, Theology, and Popular Culture, fifteen contributors consider how Girard’s mimetic theory can be used to uncover and probe the theological depths of popular culture. Creative and critical engagement with Girard’s theory enables the contributors to offer fresh and exciting interpretations of movies (The Devil Wears Prada, Mean Girls, Star Wars), television (Hoarders, Cobra Kai), classical literature and graphic novels, and issues ranging from anorexia to social media. The result is a volume that establishes Girard as an innovative interpreter of culture and shows him as an invaluable guide for theologically reflecting on desire, violence, redemption, and forgiveness. Written in fresh and lively prose, the contributors demonstrate not only that Girard provides a powerful lens through which to view culture but also—and more provocatively—challenge readers to consider what popular culture reveals about them. Readers looking for an accessible introduction to mimetic theory and exploring its theological application will find this a welcome resource.
Ryan G. Duns is a Jesuit priest and assistant professor of theology at Marquette University.
T. Derrick Witherington is the director of liturgy for Gesu Parish and adjunct lecturer of theology at Marquette University.
Chapter 1: Mimesis, Mean Girls, and the Culture Creating Them: Tina Fey’s Interrogation of Teen Comedy
Chapter 2: Star Wars: Between Myth and Gospel
Chapter 3: Desire, the Scapegoated Other, and J.J. Abrams’ The Force Awakens
John C. McDowell
Chapter 4: Girard’s Lasso of Truth: Wonder Woman and the Overcoming of Satan
Chapter 5: Those Who Have Eyes to See: The Divine Origins of the Modern Plot Twist
Chapter 6: Gazing into a Mirror: Watching Hoarders with Girard
Ryan G. Duns
Chapter 7: From the Hermeneutic of Violence to Redemption: The 100 and Mimetic Theory
Paolo Diego Bubbio
Chapter 8: Mercy, Honor, and Girardian Conversion in The Karate Kid and Cobra Kai
Chapter 9: The Pleasures and Perils of Revenge: Sons of Anarchy and Girard
George A. Dunn
Chapter 10: Exorcising Blame Through A Contract with God: A Girardian Analysis of Will Eisner’s Graphic Novel
Daniel DeForest London
Chapter 11: Unmasking the Theological Shell: A Girardian Reading of Jonathan Hickman’s Secret Wars
Chapter 12: From Autonomy to Annihilation: The Monstrous Truth of the Romantic Lie
Robert Grant Price
Chapter 13: Subtweeting in the End Times: Social Media and the Escalation to Extremes
Chapter 14: Starving for Beauty: On Anorexia and Mimetic Desire
Chapter 15: From #MeToo to #WeToo: Mimetic Ecclesiology and the Possibility of Structural Reform
T. Derrick Witherington
What a class act! These established and emerging Girard scholars demonstrate how mimetic theory, which cut its teeth on nineteenth-century novels, also illuminates contemporary film, television, and graphic novels—now that viewing has supplanted reading, as Girard acknowledges. And if these new genres don’t interest you, there are chapters on the weaponizing of Twitter, hoarding, anorexia, and the Church. Fr Duns’ introduction, explicating mimetic theory via The Devil Wears Prada, is a master class. A must for Girardians, an upskilling for theologians, a resource for preachers, and an education for pop culture junkies.
René Girard, Theology, and Pop Culture makes the case for what so many intrigued by mimetic theory intuit: it is everywhere. The editors have collected a range of impressive chapters covering blockbuster movies, graphic novels, the silver screen, and social media. Most delightful of all is an introduction that walks the reader through the stages of mimetic theory by recalling The Devil Wears Prada. This book is a great contribution to an important series and to scholars of religion interested in showing a theory at work.
This book is a marvelous illustration of what happens when encountering the seminal ideas of René Girard: one can no longer “unsee” what his work helps us to see. The volume as a whole provides an adventurous and often entertaining application of mimetic theory to a broad array of pop cultural phenomena, but without compromising anything of rigor of Girard’s insights. Ideal for the classroom, the volume will be equally engaging for those familiar with and brand new to Girard.