Date of Graduation

8-2014

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies (PhD)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Graduate School

Advisor

Steven Bell

Committee Member

Kirstin Erickson

Second Committee Member

Susan Marren

Keywords

Bahá'í, Bahiyyih Nakhjavani, Humor Studies, Luis Alberto Urrea, Postsecular, U.S. Latino Literature

Abstract

This study, employing a postsecular theoretical prism, analyzes the spiritual theses given expression through the historical fiction of Mexican-American, or Chicano, author Luis Alberto Urrea and exiled Persian Bahá'í author Bahiyyih Nakhjavani. This study examines three novels: Nakhjavani's The Woman Who Read Too Much, Urrea's The Hummingbird's Daughter, and its sequel Queen of America. These novels express world-views in which the spiritual has particular importance, not as a supersession of quotidian reality but in an integral partnership with it, the baseline upon which postsecular thought is built. This study concludes that such an expression of world-views signals towards the change in socio-political philosophy which philosopher and scholar Jürgen Habermas iterates in "Faith and Knowledge," his acceptance address for the 2001 Peace Prize awarded by the German Publishers and Booksellers Association. As per Habermas, a significant change is occurring in twenty-first century Western society; this change, I argue, is evident in the spiritually charged transnational historical fiction of Urrea and Nakhjavani.

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