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Theses Doctoral

A Choice of Illusions: Belief, Relativism, and Modern Literature

Morrison, Alastair

This dissertation considers how defenses of traditional faith in Britain have adapted to new frontiers of cultural relativism and religious difference. Its contention is that poetry has become central to such defenses. Relativistic thinking would seem to dispose against metaphysical belief; poetry, as a parallel claimant for cultural and expressive particularity, and as a sensuously non-empirical rhetorical medium, offers a way of muffling the dissonance that might otherwise arise from positioning difference and particularity as pretext for claims of universal truth. This study traces formal and rhetorical innovations from the Victorian crisis of faith forward to literary modernism, with a brief conclusion contemplating related developments in more contemporary poetry and religious thought in Britain.

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Academic Units
English and Comparative Literature
Thesis Advisors
Robbins, Bruce
Degree
Ph.D., Columbia University
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