Contemporary fantasy fiction and representations of religion: playing with reality, myth, and magic in His Dark Materials and Harry Potter

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    Often fiction and religion have been seen as separate moments or genres, but recent encounters between the two fields – such as fiction-based religions or religious controversies with regard to works of fiction – show that a thorough discussion of the religious in the fictional and the fictional in the religious is important. It may be consequential for what we understand religion to be in the study of religions today. The fantasy genre, with its other worlds, magic and superhuman characters, is extremely successful in contemporary Western popular culture. This article discusses the genre of fantasy fiction and analyses how selected examples of contemporary fantasy fiction represent and mediate religion. It argues that fantasy fiction both reflects and forms religious interests and religious fascination in contemporary society, and, in combination with the related new virtual worlds of the supernatural, fantasy fiction, that it provides sites for exploration of religion. This article is not a study of new religious movements, or of locating and analysing classically religious practitioners who use fantasy fiction in religions. Rather, the author seeks to understand the current pervasive presence of religion in fantasy fiction, and to discuss its significance in contemporary Western societies, as well as its implications for the understanding of religion. The author suggests that we should acknowledge, to a greater degree, the extent to which religion can be mixed with commerce, titillating entertainment, shared emotions, and everyday concerns. In addition, the author suggests that we should make more room for partial and shifting religious engagements in religion, and acknowledge a place, in the category of religion, for supernatural popular culture. The current fantasy popularity surge indicates not only a weakening of institutionalised religions, but also of the importance of belief and absolute truth claims in religion, and instead we see an increased visibility of ‘the religious’ and shifting and partial forms of religion in the West.

    Udgave nummer4
    Sider (fra-til)550-574
    StatusUdgivet - 2016


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