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The postmodern sacred: popular culture spirituality in the genres of science fiction, fantasy and fantastic horror

McAvan, Em (2007) The postmodern sacred: popular culture spirituality in the genres of science fiction, fantasy and fantastic horror. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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      Abstract

      In my thesis I argue that the return of the religious in contemporary culture has been in two forms the rise of so-called fundamentalisms in the established faiths-Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, even Buddhist-and the rise of a New Age style spirituality that draws from aspects of those faiths even as it produces something distinctively different. I argue that this shift both produces post-modern media culture, and is itself always-already mediated through the realm of the fictional. Secular and profane are always entangled within one another, a constant and pervasive media presence that modulates the way that contemporary subjects experience themselves and their relationship to the spiritual. I use popular culture as an entry point, an entry point that can presume neither belief nor unbelief in its audiences, showing that it is 'unreal' texts such as Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, The Matrix and so on that we find religious symbols and ideas refracted through a postmodernist sensibility, with little regard for the demands of 'real world' epistemology.

      I argue that it is in this interplay between traditional religions and New Age-ised spirituality in popular culture that the sacred truly finds itself in postmodernity.

      Publication Type: Thesis (PhD)
      Murdoch Affiliation: School of Media, Communication and Culture
      Supervisor: Mishra, Vijay
      URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/188
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