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Title:"Lines of Spiritual Motion": The Realization of American Catholic Fiction, 1845-1965
Author(s):Oliverio, Lisa
Director of Research:Bauer, Dale M.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Bauer, Dale M.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Parker, Robert D.; Foote, Stephanie; Hansen, James A.
Department / Program:English
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):American literature
Abstract:This dissertation argues that Catholic literature, far from being an escape from the historical to the spiritual, revises major literary forms as negotiates American culture and doctrinal orthodoxy to create an American Catholic community. My research in Catholic print culture suggests, on the contrary, that religious writers responded to complex, interwoven political and theological concerns of the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. I argue, then, that the development of American Catholic fiction participates in the creation a middle-class American Catholic culture. While anti-Catholicism in the nineteenth century imagined Catholicism as antithetical to American citizenship, Catholic writers at the turn of the twentieth century tried to overcome divided loyalties and create a Catholicism that both accounted for and engaged with American culture. Although Catholic literary critics deemed traditional genres of American fiction anathema to Catholic theology and culture, Catholic writers adapted formal developments, from the sentimental novel of the nineteenth century to the popular modernism of the twentieth century, to confront an American social world that sought to exclude them and to reconsider official Church doctrine. “Lines of Spiritual Motion” therefore argues that American Catholic fiction is not only a religious discourse, but also a rich historical discourse. To that end, I focus on a diverse group of American Catholic writers—Mary Anne Sadlier, Orestes Brownson, Kathleen Norris, Dorothy Day, Hilary Leighton Barth, Harry Sylvester, and Flannery O’Connor—who provided a fertile ground for American Catholics to transition from a conflicted relation to dominant American culture to fuller participation in it, marked by the move from urban Catholic ghettoes at the turn of the century to American suburbs in the post-war era.  
Issue Date:2011-08-26
Rights Information:Copyright 2011 Lisa Oliverio
Date Available in IDEALS:2013-08-27
Date Deposited:2011-08

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