American Exceptionalism as Religion: Postmodern Discontent

American Exceptionalism as Religion: Postmodern Discontent

by Jordan Carson


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Jordan Carson’s American Exceptionalism as Religion looks at how American nationalist ideologies intersect with religious ones in contemporary literature. Carson traces out how an exceptionalist belief system began to emerge historically with a distorted picture of religious commitment. He then connects this trend to writers such as Don DeLillo, Ana Castillo, Thomas Pynchon, George Saunders, and Marilynne Robinson to argue that these authors dismantle the privatization of religion in their writing and then offer their own alternatives. Their work, he argues, redefines religion in terms of practice and discipline, gauging it by its power to ground and guide behavior, morality, and sociality.
As American exceptionalism resurfaces in public discourse, Carson’s timely work invites readers to reconsider the nexus of religion, politics, and culture. Carson argues that defining religion according to secularist criteria has insulated ostensibly secular ideologies as well as traditional religion from public scrutiny. DeLillo’s, Castillo’s, Pynchon’s, Saunders’s, and Robinson’s redefinitions of religion result in a better grasp of how individuals actually live out their religious lives. More importantly, these authors help erect a framework for constructively engaging American exceptionalism and the ideas that support it.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780814214435
Publisher: Ohio State University Press
Publication date: 08/14/2020
Series: Literature, Religion, & Postsecular Stud Series
Edition description: 1
Pages: 240
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Jordan Carson is a Visiting Lecturer at Baylor University.

Table of Contents

Abbreviations of Author Works
Introduction    American Religion and Its Discontents
Chapter 1        Unsaying American Ideology: Don DeLillo’s Apophatic Approach
Chapter 2        Faith in the Borderlands: Ana Castillo’s Holy Joderones
Chapter 3        The Depth of the Riches: Thomas Pynchon’s Spiritual Hybridity
Chapter 4        Redefining Bountyland: George Saunders and the Gift of Humanity
Chapter 5        Creeds Fall Away: Marilynne Robinson’s Democratic Individualism
Works Cited


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