Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Paradoxes of power : Apocalyptic agency in the left behind series
Author: Chapman, Jennie
ISNI:       0000 0004 2687 7943
Awarding Body: The University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2009
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
The Left Behind series of apocalyptic novels by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins is a popular publishing phenomenon. Some 65 million copies have been sold, and more than one in ten Americans has read at least one of the novels. Despite their cultural salience, however, academic attention to the novels and the worldview represented therein has thus far been desultory. This thesis seeks to fill the lacuna in the existing literature, arguing that religion as a social formation requires renewed attention in the discipline of American Studies. "Paradoxes of Power: Apocalyptic Agency in the Left Behind Series" is particularly concerned with the way in which notions of human agency, free will, and possessive individualism are formulated in the series. The following analysis will note that, in Left Behind, the representation of agency is divided against itself. The novels advance a strong form of human agency rooted in possessive individualism and the possibility of personal volition unfettered from external structures, but also assert the necessity of relinquishing one's self and one's will to God, and insist that human history is predetermined and invulnerable to human intervention. I will argue that the authors are the products of multiple, contradictory traditions, some of which valorize agency, others of which enervate or deny it. The paradoxes that arise at the confluence of these traditions constantly disrupt the clarity of the novels' vision and message in this regard. This study will examine the various language games, rhetorical manoeuvres, and discursive strategies employed in the texts in an attempt to make these contradictory conceptualizations of agency cohere. It will note the "tacking" or vacillating movement of the narrative between passive and active representations; describe the texts' positing of distinct forms of agency that are "sacred" and "mundane"; show how the novels blur the boundaries between "normal time" and "apocalyptic time" in order to mitigate the ostensible passivity of its protagonists; and examine the possibility that Left Behind does not dispense with human agency but instead rearticulates it, locating agency not in action but in knowledge. The textual analysis undertaken in this thesis is one which is alert to the theological positions that underpin Left Behind's narrative, as well as the history of "rapture fiction" as a genre. Therefore its methodology might be described as theologically-situated literary criticism. Such an approach permits texts to be taken on their own terms and opens a space for innovative and dissident readings, but also cultivates an awareness of the intellectual, ideological, theological, and historical contexts within which such texts are both produced and received.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available