Author ORCID Identifier

https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5272-3591

Date of Award

Fall 12-10-2018

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

First Advisor

Dr. Christopher Kocela

Second Advisor

Dr. Matthew Roudane

Third Advisor

Dr. Paul Schmidt

Abstract

Even before the likes of Max Weber and Frederic Jameson pushed forward the idea of disenchantment, feelings of dissatisfaction and meaninglessness caused by the technological and economic developments of what they called our modern and postmodern ages, it had been seen in much of our literature, art, and popular culture. A few early examples in drama would be Thornton Wilder’s Our Town and Arthur Miller’s The Man Who Had All the Luck, in which characters question the material world in search of what they feel is some elusive meaning in their lives. Some later examples of drama that tackle these issues are Paula Vogel’s The Long Christmas Ride Home and Sara Ruhl’s In the Next Room (Or the Vibrator Play) in which the issue of how we develop meaningful relationships is portrayed as essential to answering the question of how we can make our lives more meaningful. Examples in fiction which explore these issues of dissatisfaction and meaninglessness would be Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow, Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower, and Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Fifth Book of Peace, all of which deal with the issues of trying to navigate through a cosmos that is so much more powerful than one’s self while trying to survive and maybe even change a society that just seems to lust after material things and power, often to destructive ends. This dissertation’s contribution to an analysis of these artistic works is to synthesize the tools of process physics, process philosophy, process theology, and theopoetics in order to form a cosmological interpretive strategy of literature that leads towards the process of reenchantment, the idea that we as individuals are still integrally connected to society and the cosmos.

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