Date of Graduation

Spring 5-2014

Level of Access

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department or Program

English

Number of Pages

102

First Advisor

Osucha, Eden

Abstract

Broadly speaking, postmodernist thinking presumes the failure of traditional value systems and epistemologies, reacting to this crisis in truth and knowledge with radical skepticism. This perspective privileges relativity over objective truth, interpretation over meaning, an infinity of multiple perspectives over unified systems of thought and belief, and concrete principles over abstract expressions. As Western religion insists upon exclusive universalized truths and principles, the persistence and even resurgence of religion and religious fundamentalism in a contemporary historical moment otherwise characterized by the pervasive influence of postmodernist tenets in secular life presents a striking paradox. The novels examined in this thesis all variously attempt to explain this apparent contradiction – how postmodern society seems to reject totalizing systems of knowledge and value, but encourages religion and its universalizing conceptions. In different ways, these novels frame religion as a pragmatic reaction to societal anxieties, rather than the result of divine revelation, emphasizing how beliefs morph in response to societal crises. They critique the concept of the religious grand narrative, demonstrating its susceptibility to change and its inability to provide a full story. Finally, these texts address what happens when traditional religious beliefs fail according to postmodern logic, and suggest that people engage the secular to replace the system of belief religion once provided. These novels suggest a human tendency to yearn for systems of belief but simultaneously deny any credibility to an overarching narrative, affirming postmodern society’s attraction to multiplicity while still perhaps allowing for the human need for systems of knowledge and value.

Open Access

Available to all.

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