James Lorenz


Professor Graham Ward


Worcester College

Research Overview

This thesis contributes to the interdisciplinary study of theology and film. It recognises that the current methodology of this study is usually limited to narrative and thematic approaches to cinema, and it argues that a more productive and substantial methodological question remains unasked: what, if anything, is theological about the medium of film itself? The first half of this thesis attempts to answer this question, so that the second half can explore the theological power of film in the work of Andrei Tarkovsky through a methodology that prioritises questions about the form and style of cinema as an art. In other words, this research does not seek to ‘apply’ theological concepts to film, but instead to address the theological concepts that arise from cinema itself as an art form.

Research Area/s

Modern and Systematic Theology; Theology and the Arts


After completing my undergraduate studies here in Oxford, earning First Class honours, I worked as a teacher briefly before returning to the university. Following a distinction in my MSt, I began my doctorate in 2017. While my passion for cinema and the arts drives my research, I also organise various film groups in my spare time. Recreationally, I participate in a number of sports and enjoy writing fiction.

Select Papers & Publications

  • First Reformed (2017) review (Journal for Religion, Media and Film, forthcoming)
  • ‘“Now at last you are face to face.” Encountering grace from below in Robert Bresson’s Diary of a Country Priest (1951)’ (Conference paper at ‘Theology from Below’, Stellenbosch, 2019)
  • ‘The Theological Power of Time and Memory in Andrei Tarkovsky’s Nostalghia (1983)’ (Seminar paper in the Modern Theology and Patristics Graduate Seminar, Oxford, 2018)
  • ‘Memory, Imagination, and Anticipation: Using the science of memory to explore Augustine’s understanding of transcendence and the happy life’ (Conference paper at European Society for the Study of Science and Theology, Lyon, 2018)
  • Film reviews for the online journal ‘Thinking Faith’ (accessible here: https://www.thinkingfaith.org/articles/cold-war)

Academic Interests

Systematic theology; film theory; theology and the arts; phenomenology; sacramental theology; time and memory.

Academic Related Activities

  • Teaching Assistant for ‘Key Themes in Systematic Theology’ classes (Trinity 2019).
  • Teaching undergraduate tutorials for ‘Thesis Research Skills’ (Trinity 2019).
  • Undergraduate admissions interviewer at Worcester College (Michaelmas 2018).
  • GJCC (Graduate Joint Consultative Committee) representative 2018.
  • UNIQ summer school tutor (summer, 2018).


Awarded an AHRC scholarship (2017-2020).

Areas of Teaching Competence and Experience

Completed the faculty run Graduate Teacher Training Scheme (GTTS).