Date of Degree
Access restricted until 09/04/2021
PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)
First Committee Member
Second Committee Member
Third Committee Member
Hospitality is relational, a system of ethics contending with difference, navigating the mutable boundaries between self and Other. Desire or duty to reflect the gracious inclusivity of God without regard for reciprocation marks Christian hospitality in particular. Given the shortcomings of humankind in comparison to the divine, however, the utopian ideal of hospitality extended to all cannot be had on Earth. Thus, the impulse to reach out to the Other continually comingles with the shameful awareness of human limitation, a paradox the philosopher Emmanuel Levinas calls “infinite responsibility.” Building upon Levinas’s concept and fellow philosopher Jacques Derrida’s assertion that “ethics is hospitality,” I examine how various U.S. writers engender or interrogate the concept of Christian hospitality. Specifically, I investigate how each author develops shame as an affect with regard to Christian hospitality to the racial Other, the impoverished Other, the sexual Other, and the inanimate and animate Other in the natural world. The chapters feature case studies focusing primarily on one historical figure, Christopher Columbus, and three writers—Erskine Caldwell, Richard Rodriguez, and Leslie Marmon Silko—and four key moments in U.S. history: the 1892 celebrations of Christopher Columbus as a figure of belonging vs. later shameful perceptions of him as a figure of oppression; the plight of the rural poor in Depression-era Georgia; the ostracism of AIDS sufferers in San Francisco in the early 1990s; and the conflict between capitalist developers and environmentalists in the Southwest in the early 2000s. I demonstrate 1) how an author interrogates the tenets of Christian hospitality; and 2) how shame can both inspire commitment to social change and cloud a text’s reception due to negative, and even painful, emotions. Ultimately, I examine the authors’ attempts at “mobilizing shame,” a tactic among activist authors to trigger public shame in order to garner support at the grassroots level, ultimately shaming government bodies and average citizens into reform.
Christianity, homosexuality, hospitality, nature, poverty, shame
xvii, 233 pages
Includes bibliographical references.
Copyright © 2016 Jennifer D. Loman
Loman, Jennifer D. "Shame, Christian hospitality, and the American writer." PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) thesis, University of Iowa, 2016.
Available for download on Saturday, September 04, 2021