Northwestern University

Fri 6:00 PM

NU Graduate Lecture Series: Lecture 4 - Saying Goodbye to God: Forgetting as Spiritual Exercise in mid- 20th Century Existentialist Film

When: Friday, May 11, 2018
6:00 PM - 8:00 PM  

Where: John Evans Center, 1800 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Public - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Amy Danzer   847.491.3051

Group: School of Professional Studies

Category: Academic



Lecture Title: Saying Goodbye to God: Forgetting as Spiritual Exercise in mid-20th Century Existentialist Film

Presented by: Professor Michelle Molina

Friday, May 11
@ John Evans Center (1800 Sheridan Rd. – Evanston)
6 p.m. - Program begins
7 p.m. - Reception to follow

This talk compares the ways in which mid-20th century filmmakers (from Ingmar Bergman to Luis Buñuel) portrayed the frustrations, disappointments and dark humor inherent in the quest to know God, as well as the equally frustrating quest to say goodbye to God once and for all. The protagonists in films such as Bergman's Through a Glass Darkly and Buñuel's Viridiana work with and against Christian culture. I demonstrate how, in so doing, the protagonists' engagement with Christian ritual and symbolics is a central aspect not only of character development but also of the filmmakers' spiritual exercise, that is, their repeated attempts to work through Christianity in order to leave it behind.

J. Michelle Molina (PhD, University of Chicago, 2004) studies the Society of Jesus in the early modern period. She explores Jesuit spirituality in an effort to understand how individuals – both elite and commoner - approached and experienced religious transformation. In particular, she has been interested in examining the impact of the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises – a meditative retreat geared toward self-reform – on early modern global expansion. Molina’s book, To Overcome Oneself: The Jesuit Ethic and the Spirit of Global Expansion is published with University of California Press. Bearing witness to events in her own era, Molina has explained what it might mean that the new pope is a Jesuit. She has observed that it is best to situate this Jesuit pope in relation to the modes of self-formation found in the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises and, importantly, that this Catholic imperative to “know thyself” indicates that Pope Francis is well versed in what has been termed “philosophy as a way of life.” She enjoys teaching classes on colonial Mexican history, early modern globalization, existentialist film, including those of Woody Allen. Molina particularly appreciates the questions and the focus that adult learners bring to class discussions every week.

Hosted by Northwestern University's School of Professional Studies
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