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Title:Domestic faiths, global missions: post-secular science fiction at the millennium
Author(s):Morris, David
Director of Research:Koshy, Susan
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Koshy, Susan
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Loughran, Patricia; Ebel, Jonathan H.; Underwood, Ted
Department / Program:English
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):American Literature
Contemporary Literature
20th Century Literature
Science Fiction
Abstract:In the late twentieth century, new “post-secular” modes of literary representation emerged that challenged the implicitly Protestant epistemologies of dominant twentieth century American secularism. My dissertation, Domestic Faiths, Global Missions: Post-secular Science Fiction at the Millennium, examines science fiction novels that respond to the religious character of late twentieth century cultural conflicts by constructing “post-secular” narratives that imagine communities of genuinely diverse people on equal political and cultural footing. The novels’ near future setting allows them to examine contemporary problems in systemic contexts but free from the principles of causality demanded by realist novels and political programs. The first half of the dissertation reads novels by astronomer Carl Sagan and evangelists Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye to expose a co-constitutive relationship between conservative Christian fundamentalism and secular scientific materialism. While the novels appear politically opposed, Sagan and Jenkins/LaHaye both articulate global cultural visions based on similar conceptions of a private, rational subject with roots in a white Protestant intellectual tradition. Reading novels by Octavia Butler and Margaret Atwood, the second half of my dissertation explores partially religious subjectivities that escape the Protestant-secular binary and expand American secular culture to accommodate alternative religious traditions on a potentially equal basis. Rejecting the simple utopianism of Sagan and Jenkins/LaHaye, the novels imagine interim communities that build slowly toward revitalized public relationships without dramatic revolution.
Issue Date:2012-06-27
Rights Information:Copyright 2012 David Morris
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-06-28
Date Deposited:2012-05

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