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Title: Towards a preterite theology : resistance and spirituality in the novels of Thomas Pynchon
Author: Moss, Richard James
ISNI:       0000 0004 5352 4756
Awarding Body: Durham University
Current Institution: Durham University
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis will explore how the American writer Thomas Pynchon creates a functioning, working theological model for the “preterite” communities and spaces with three of his novels: Gravity’s Rainbow, Vineland and Against the Day. Building on John McClure’s postsecular reading of Pynchon in Partial Faiths and religious readings of the texts by Dwight Eddins and Kathryn Hume, this thesis expands on the themes and theories presented in these critical works. In this thesis I posit that the theological material of Pynchon is largely underrepresented in Pynchon criticism, and what work there is does not engage with Pynchon as a complete religious writer. Through a socio-historical perspective, this work endeavours to express how important religious modes are to a variety of topics in the corpus, from politics, to history and Pynchon’s engagement with power structures and oppression. In exploring how religions inter-relate with both each other and more secular concerns, I analyse how Pynchon, across these three texts, fashions a dialogue of resistance that endorses the importance of spirituality. I build on McClure’s theories of a “partial” conversion narrative within the texts, and take this further to express a total commitment to spiritual systems that effects Pynchon’s wider concerns with resistance, liberation and transcendent spaces and possibilities. This thesis explores Pynchon’s valorisation of pluralism and a heterodox approach to religious consumption, but also how he critiques it, creating a double quality that constantly shifts and morphs the spiritual discourse of the text. I argue that Pynchon’s ‘serious’ take on the spiritual dimensions within these novels shows him building a complex ethical and social system around preterition and resistance, and that resistance within the text is reliant on such spiritual discourse. Through this reading, this thesis posits that Pynchon’s spiritual framework cannot be considered as a mere aspect of his work, but core to a plethora of his social and political concerns.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available