Signs that point nowhere : empty theological forms in twentieth-century American literature.
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My dissertation considers how twentieth-century writers such as F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Carson McCullers, Sylvia Plath, and Bret Easton Ellis have attempted to find meaning in a world that no longer believes in God. I examine how, in the face of the death of God, the characters in these authors’ works still turn to religious rituals and forms, particularly marriage, Scripture, icons, baptism, the Eucharist, and confession. However, these forms are no longer connected to the Christian faith and have been divested of their spiritual value; thus, they can no longer provide the grace, redemption, and healing they once offered. I argue that these emptied, ineffective forms counter literature that espouses belief without doctrine or faith without content by revealing the deep need for traditional, theologically full Christian forms.