Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


My intent in this work is to see what consequences can be derived from looking from the perspective of Christianity (especially, liberation theology) at three very different writers: John Dos Passos, Flannery O'Connor, and Thomas Pynchon. Having taken this stance, I will be viewing one major work of each of these three writers as work which deals with the nature of human commitment and its relationship to a stated or implied utopia. My intention is to perform a religious and ideological reading of the three authors, and to see what the implications are of liberation theology for literature in an age where the intelligentsia frequently assume Christianity to be nostalgic, inherently reactionary, and theoretically obtuse.;I have chosen these three particular writers for various reasons, but mostly because they are very different from each other in the implications they make for commitment and utopia. Therefore, they offer liberation theology the widest scope in which to exercise itself as an approach to literature.;In the course of the thesis, I show how together, these works cast doubt both on the possibility of a non-religious socialism, and the possibility of a non-socialistic religion. A utopian commitment both artistically and politically, which focuses on this world and the next as a continuum, becomes necessary.;Within liberation theology, utopianism and commitment are vital. Utopia is such that this world is infused with the kingdom of God, however imperfectly. Liberation theologians are as aware as anyone that human effort alone is not enough to create utopia; divine participation in history is as essential as it is unstoppable. Liberation theology also explodes the cynic's false dichotomy of "idealism" versus "realism"; the most realistic people are idealistic: they are utopians. They eschew both worldliness and quietism.;Aside from the various conclusions I make about the ideologies of each of the three texts, I also come to advocate readings which stress the reader's participation as the bearer of Christian faith. This type of reading does not eschew non-Christian texts, nor does it attempt to discover hidden Christianity in such texts.



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