Redeeming fiction: American evangelical fiction, gender, and culture

Joanna Fedson

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Abstract

This dissertation examines the cultural narratives present within contemporary Christian fiction in the United States. It explores some of the more popular genres within Christian fiction such as apocalyptic end-times thrillers and Christian romances as well as the relatively new genre of African American Christian novels. As popular fiction inherently shapes and reflects the ideologies, trends and ideas of the age in which it is produced, this study focuses on the interplay of cultural discourses between literary narratives and American and evangelical communities. By exploring the various ways in which these novels tell their stories, this dissertation seeks to show that popular Christian fiction provides important insights into contemporary evangelicalism, readers and American culture. First, using the Left Behind series as representative of the modern-day end times apocalyptic thriller genre, it finds that the novels offer insight into evangelical discourses surrounding masculinities. Analysis of the internal logics of the Left Behind narrative reveals that the genre is as much about male camaraderie and evangelical understandings of a Christian manhood as it is a critique of the perceived future trajectory of American society. Typically associated with a female readership, the Christian romances genre presents a counterbalance to the masculine focus of end time novels. Where end times novels tend to be pessimistic and jeremiadic in modality, Christian romances demonstrate an optimistic perspective in their portrayals of romance, love and family. In addition to analysing gendered discourses, this dissertation looks at the little explored, yet growing area of African American Christian fiction novels, examining how race operates within American evangelical discourses.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Publication statusUnpublished - 2011

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