Faculty of Arts


Danger and Desire: The Bible and Visual Culture

Please note: this is archived course information from 2018 for THEOREL 215.


Over the centuries, biblical characters, themes and stories have been represented time and again in the visual arts, including fine art, advertising, media, music videos and film. From the earliest mosaics of biblical themes unearthed in Jerusalem and Rome to Beyonce’s visual album Lemonade, there is an endless fascination among artists to engage with biblical traditions in visual form.

This course explores these visual "afterlives" of biblical texts, created over the centuries and up to the present day. In particular, it will consider the themes of sexuality, gender, sin and desire which have been a particularly popular focus within these visual portrayals.

Students will learn the methods and theories required to study the biblical texts and their visual afterlives, tracing the ways that artistic engagements with the Bible can shine a new and captivating light on these ancient traditions. In addition, we will consider how artists’ own cultural contexts shape and inspire their visual interpretations of the Bible, and how these interpretations may still influence cultural discourses of gender and sexuality, even today. 

Topics covered in this course will include Adam and Eve in art and contemporary advertising, biblical femmes fatales and fin de siècle art, masculinity in Bible movies, biblical bathing beauties and Laura Mulvey’s male gaze, visualising sacred sexualities, biblical messiahs and sporting messiahs in advertising and returning the postfeminist gaze in social media and music videos.

Availability 2018

Semester 1




THEOREL 215: 15.0 points


30 points at Stage I from the BA Schedule


THEOREL 212, 312, 315

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