Journal of Religious Education

, Volume 62, Issue 2, pp 65–78 | Cite as

Decoding the mise-en-scène of contemporary secular spirituality: a research monograph. Part I: context, approach and relevant literature

  • Graham Rossiter


The film and drama studies term mise-en-scène, while normally not applied as an analytical construct relevant to spirituality, is used here to expand an understanding of contemporary secular spirituality—particularly in the way it is expressed through visual imagery. Another unusual element in this monograph is the comparison drawn between contemporary secular spirituality and traditional medieval Christian spirituality. While in two very different cultures at distinct periods of history, both have been dominated by a universal visual iconography that mediated powerful cultural sources of meaning and values; these were like the pillars that structured a unified social reality for the people of the time, shaping their views of meaning and purpose to life. The dominant cultural imagery in both situations conditioned the perceived underlying narrative or mise-en-scène for life. In addition to providing educators with a way of interpreting contemporary spirituality, the approach illustrates a religious education pedagogy for exploring spiritual and moral dimensions to contemporary living in contrast with the way life was interpreted in the past from an almost exclusively religious perspective. This material identifies the issues and explores the background literature to the study. The comparisons of spirituality and lifestyle, together with comments on sociological and educational implications (Parts II and III), will appear in the next issue of the Journal.


Spirituality Religion Consumerism Religious education Mise-en-scène 


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Copyright information

© Australian Catholic University 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Australian Catholic UniversitySydneyAustralia

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