Title page for ETD etd-0706102-115040

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Vassiliou, Likourgos James
URN etd-0706102-115040
Title Spirit Matter(s): Post-Dualistic Representations of Spirituality in Fiction by Walker Percy, Toni Morrison and Gloria Naylor
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Department English
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
John R. May Committee Chair
John Lowe Committee Member
Rick Moreland Committee Member
Sarah Liggett Committee Member
Rita Culross Dean's Representative
  • platonic dualism
  • existentialism
  • theology of liberation
  • religion in american fiction
  • individualism and spirituality
Date of Defense 2002-05-21
Availability unrestricted
Spirit Matter(s): Post-Dualism Representations of Spirituality in Fiction by Walker Percy, Toni Morrison and Gloria Naylor, examines the ways in which these authors have presented spirituality in The Moviegoer, Song of Solomon, and Mama Day respectively. In these works, spirituality is a need for connection among humans in this world, rather than a notion that points to dualistic views of the spiritual and the material as two different realms. Through this perspective on spirituality as a reality of the physical world, the political and socio-economic problems of the world are not—nor can they be—set aside in favor of the spiritual search. The solitary quest of the individual that overcomes distinctions of class, race, sex, etc. to gain enlightenment proves insufficient to explain modern spiritual concerns. Instead, the examined texts propose that problems such as injustice and exploitation, and the struggles that arise when people fight against them, are part of the human condition, and therefore of the human spirit as well. The ethical obligations that arise from connection with one another guide people to the ways in which spiritual awareness can become ethical praxis, and so spirituality leads to a concern with the problems of the political and socio-economic sphere rather than to an escape from them by “transcending” such concerns. Finally, a vision of spirituality as part of the physical world affirms life and valorizes struggle in it rather than sacrificial death.
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