Date of Award

May 2018

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

English

First Advisor

Liam Callanan

Committee Members

Josepha Lanters, Valerie Laken, George Clark, Anne Basting

Abstract

In his 2012 New York Times article “Has Fiction Lost Its Faith?,” Paul Elie notes how Christian belief glimpsed in contemporary U.S.-American literary fiction functions in a social or sociohistorical manner within the narratives. If indeed assigned to an individual, the set of beliefs and their development are so difficult to determine, Elie contends, that the character no longer serves as a believer. This story collection responds to that critique and challenge by introducing characters who live out, live with, and live in consequence of their Judæo-Christian faiths. These stories take faith seriously—as the reason for everything to know about the characters in them. Beliefs drive values, attitudes, and behaviors. So here, faith makes a difference in lives, and lives of faith make a difference in the world. Since the stories’ content engages with what it means to be a 21st-century Christian in the global, transcultural, postcolonial Church body, each character must choose the way s/he will follow, all the while losing, surrendering, or assuming spiritual leaders and authorities. It is not their faiths with which they struggle, but with building support networks for their faiths. In addition, the stories’ formal properties engage styles and approaches of Biblical Scriptures; literary modes of speculative fiction, as they are used to pose supernatural motifs; and, genre elements of folktale, as they are used to socialize and inculcate. The purpose of the collection is to elucidate the spiritual expressions and experiences of the characters.

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