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Title: Sacred impulses, sacrilegious worlds : postsecular intimations in Graham Greene and Naguib Mahfouz
Author: Bahrawi, Nazry
ISNI:       0000 0004 2749 1698
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2013
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Inspired by Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age (2007), this thesis reconsiders ‘the secular’ from within the discipline of literature and theology, employing comparative literature as a methodology. Focusing on the writings of two modern authors of religious doubt, Graham Greene and Naguib Mahfouz, I argue that the secular as an ontological category is from its inception post secular. In the first theoretical part of this thesis, I explore religious utopianism, and argue against the notion that utopianism is a uniquely ‘Western’ concept by outlining its prevalence in non Western societies. Then, I theorise modern intimations of the secular as four dichotomies: faith/reason, this worldliness/otherworldliness, personal/communal and freewill/determinism. In doing so,I draw parallels between ideas of the secular from Western philosophers such as Immanuel Kant and Friedrich Nietzsche and classical Islamic thinkers like Ibn Sina and al-Farabi. Drawing from the concepts of ‘religious utopianism’ and ‘secular dichotomies’, I develop a comparative literary lens known as utopian theologics to explore secular narratives in the selected works of Greene and Mahfouz. The second part of this thesis applies utopian theologics, by first historicising the secular from the socio-political and biographical spheres of the two writers to map out their ‘lifeworlds’ in the Habermasian sense of the word. More elaborately, I embark on a close reading analysis of the selected works according to the dichotomies identified to explore the way their conventional hierarchical orders have been reversed, or rendered irrelevant by hybridisation. Finally, I conclude that the secular disposition, as intimated in the novels, falls apart when its polemics are investigated, though its sense of lasting realness in the modern world is fuelled by perceptions of religion’s seeming antithesis to the idea of human agency. The postsecular narratives that govern the selected works also suggest that humanity has an inclination for ‘sacred impulses’ despite the advent of ‘sacrilegious worlds’.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Muslim Religious Council of Singapore ; Muhammadiyah Association of Singapore
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: PJ Semitic ; PR English literature