Date of Award

9-24-2009

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

First Advisor

Ronald G. Shafer, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Christopher M. Kuipers, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Lingyan Yang, Ph.D.

Abstract

This study examines tendencies by structuring agencies like religion and society to other supernatural phenomena that do not conform to accepted systems during the long nineteenth-century and into the New Millennial period. Specifically, I investigate how and why society others supernatural phenomena perceived as subversive or inauthentic since they cannot be quantified or qualified through accepted means, especially scientific a priori and empirical means. My method incorporates Marxist, cultural, psychoanalytic, and linguistic theory to consider how human relationships with supernaturalism mutate as we proceed to a pseudo-modernist world condition. These efforts of resistance to othering are a significant part of Romanticism, Victorianism, and Transcendentalism throughout the long nineteenth-century and influence New Millennial literature and the associated popularity that surrounds what is a new spirituality. This secularist method provides alternative means for enlightenment external to traditional religious structures that are currently engaged in an ideological war. Artists included in this study who support this overall thesis include J.M. Barrie, Christina Rossetti, William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Horace Walpole, Lord Byron, Edgar Allan Poe, Arthur Conan Doyle, R.L. Stevenson, Matthew Arnold, Edmund Burke, Martin Scorsese, Dan Brown, and J.K. Rowling. Their texts show how unconventional supernatural phenomena are involved in the creative process by preserving childhood curiosity (Chapter I), are othered through textualization efforts that vilify supernatural agency through horror and terror-inducing techniques marked by traditional Gothic criticism (Chapter II), support platonic and romantic soulmate relationships that do not conform to social intentions (Chapter III), and encourage the discovery of Truth through various socially subversive tendencies (Chapter IV). I complete the study with an examination of contemporary works to illustrate how nineteenth-century philosophies associated with supernaturalism continue to affect our current world state (Chapter V). This is especially apparent as we struggle against a New Terrorism that subverts authentic supernatural interactions to preserve fundamentalist interpretations of traditional religious and social systems.

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