We Dive And Reappear in New Places:Aesthetic Experience and Fundamentalism Undone
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CitationFrancis, Philip. 2011. We Dive And Reappear in New Places:Aesthetic Experience and Fundamentalism Undone. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard Divinity School.
AbstractThis dissertation is an ethnographic study of 100 men and women who grew up in an American fundamentalist Christian community and left it, and for whom the arts played an instrumental role in the process of leaving. The majority of these individuals are alumni of the Bob Jones University School of Fine Art, a fundamentalist Christian college in Greenville, South Carolina, or The Oregon Extension, an aesthetically charged semester study-away program that draws its students from conservative Evangelical Christian colleges. Each individual contributed a memoir to the study and the majority were interviewed as well. Each chapter explores the role of aesthetic experience in the undoing of a different fundamentalist method of belief preservation. Methods of belief-preservation, or what C.S. Peirce called the `fixations of belief,' are ways of securing beliefs, of rendering them steadfast by cultivating certain mindsets, relationships and practices that play upon what William James referred to as the "inherent conservatism of mind." My argument should not be read as a general theory of a necessary causal relationship between aesthetic experience and the undoing of fundamentalism. My thesis moves in a different direction. I ask how, in what manner, and under what conditions, does aesthetic experience function in the process of upending fundamentalism, in those circumstances when it does so function.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37367439