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Title: Archives of defeat? : a historical materialist analysis of the theological turn of Alain Badiou
Author: Rudman, Thomas Matthew
ISNI:       0000 0004 5372 7801
Awarding Body: Manchester Metropolitan University
Current Institution: Manchester Metropolitan University
Date of Award: 2015
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This thesis offers a historical materialist analysis of the use of messianic discourses in contemporary theoretical and literary texts. It focuses on the way the recent ‘theological turn’ in Marxist theory relates to two major historical developments: the ascendency of neoliberal capitalism and the perceived absence of any socialist alternative. In theoretical terms, it produces a symptomatic analysis of Alain Badiou and his attempt to re-invigorate communist militancy via the figure of Saint Paul. Rather than follow Badiou’s avowedly atheistic turn to Paul, I undertake a materialist analysis of the texts of early Christianity in order to show that their style of ideological and political subversion is not incompatible with the egalitarian aims of Marxism. I extend this analysis of the radical potentiality of Christian discourses by examining the significance of messianic discourses in contemporary fiction in novels by Eoin McNamee and Roberto Bolaño. Both novelists deploy the conventions of crime fiction to narrate stories of revolutionary disillusionment and the impact of neoliberal economics in the north of Ireland and the Mexico-US border. My analysis focuses on issues of literary form and how the use of messianic imagery produces formal ruptures in the texts which trouble or disturb their manifest ideologies, notably the sense of revolutionary disillusionment and the notion that there is no longer any possibility of radical social change. The central argument is that the recourse to Pauline Christianity is not, as some scholars suggest, an archive of defeat for Marxism, but rather an entirely appropriate means to resurrect the idea of militant politics today. However, I argue that Badiou’s avowed atheistic reading of Paul is not sufficient to sustain the claims that he makes for its political significance. The aim of the thesis is thus to explore and address some of the shortcomings of Badiou’s position in order to defend the articulation of Marxism and Christianity, not by disavowing the messianic aspects of Pauline Christianity but by exploring their political and imaginative potential.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available