Title page for ETD etd-05152009-144335


Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Thompson, Drew Kennedy
Author's Email Address dthom35@lsu.edu
URN etd-05152009-144335
Title Wendell Berry and the Politics of Homecoming: Place, Memory and Time in Jayber Crow
Degree Master of Arts (M.A.)
Department Political Science
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Cecil L. Eubanks Committee Chair
Ellis Sandoz Committee Member
T. Wayne Parent Committee Member
Keywords
  • self
  • modernity
  • creation
  • decline
  • rituals of domesticity
  • agrarian
  • membership
  • political philosophy
  • political theory
  • politics and literature
Date of Defense 2009-04-30
Availability unrestricted
Abstract
This study examines the “politics of homecoming” appearing in author Wendell Berry’s novel Jayber Crow. The novel portrays the community of a small rural town, as narrated through the autobiography of its bachelor barber. The life-story of Jayber Crow is a journey of homecoming, progressing through three stages of nativity, estrangement, and restoration. These phases correspond and interact with philosophical motifs that can be traced throughout Berry’s corpus, but reaching their fullest expression in Jayber Crow. “Place” is the first motif, and facilitates a discussion of Berry’s contemporary agrarian vision of community. “Memory,” the second motif, becomes effective during the self’s estrangement, and enables its return to authentic community. Memory is discussed in the context of Berry’s critique of modernity. The final motif, “Time,” is important for its implications for membership, which is Berry’s ideal of the authentic community. This concept of membership appears throughout the essay, having both practical political, as well as metaphysical aspects important to the discussion. Ultimately, membership informs all political associations, as well as pointing to the proper relationship between man and creation. In this light, Berry’s politics of homecoming offers unique and bold insights into the nature and purpose of human society. His political vision is directed toward the restoration of health to the human soul, the reunification of authentic communities, and ultimately, the reconciliation of all mankind to the divine order of creation.

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