Loosening the bible belt: the search for alternative spiritual narratives in the fiction of Randall Kenan, Lee Smith, and Ron Rash

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Karen Wheeler Warren (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/
Scott Romine

Abstract: In this project I argue for new readings of Randall Kenan's A Visitation of Spirits and "The Foundations of the Earth," Lee Smith's Saving Grace and On Agate Hill, and of Ron Rash's poetry, short fiction, and his novel Saints at the River as texts that confront religious institutions that have become distanced from this intimate sense of spirituality. They critique religious communities that use their ideology to control sexuality, women, and nature. Of these three authors, Randall Kenan is the most harshly critical of the religious community in his texts. Using sexuality as his primary way into this issue, he highlights the oppressive and silencing force of religion, and offers no spiritual solution to this quandary. His solution centers on a more humanist, secular form of acceptance for those on the margins, specifically those on the margins of sexuality. Lee Smith takes a more positive stance, even while critiquing the role religion plays in repressing female identity and independence. Ron Rash critiques man's manipulation of and separation from the natural world. He argues for a reconnection to the divinity of nature in which humanity has the potential to find a spiritual connection to something outside and bigger than itself.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2010
Religion, Spirituality, Humanistic, Secular
Literature, Modern $y 20th century $x History and criticism.
Humanism in literature.
Spirituality in literature.
Religion in literature.

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