Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2018

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors



First Advisor

Lori Emerson


Recent trends in literary discourse have identified the “postsecular” in fiction, reimaginations of spiritual traditions in particularly postmodern ways. Much analysis of the postsecular posits the postsecular in fiction as an affirmation of postsecular spirituality, and celebrates its ability to describe a world “reenchanted” in postmodernity. I argue that an analysis of the postsecular which has reenchantment as its conclusion terminates too quickly, and fails to account for the ideological locus of the postsecular utopic gesture. Postsecularism, on this account, points to alternative narratives that run counter to the dominant and oppressive historical narratives of modernity. Rather than posit a return to the religious, preterite narratives seek instead to apophatically illuminate terroristic narratives of progress to allow for their deconstruction. I use Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow as a quintessential example of this account of the postsecular novel. In my conclusion, I draw upon the work of Walter Benjamin, Fredric Jameson, and Simone Weil to discuss how this reimagined postsecular narrative invokes questions regarding narrative interpretation itself, and the way literary discourse must operate under postmodernity.