Taubes’s novel continuously asks how we distinguish—if we can—between dreams, life, and books. Who or what speaks to the one who dreams? To the reader of a novel? Are dreams and novels and other kinds of books various mediums through which the dead speak? Can we hold this to be true while still honoring the dead as dead?
How much freedom can literature offer? Is the act of interpretation complicit with mastery and violence? This essay suggests that these questions are at the heart of Taubes’s novel Divorcing.
Who is this work being written for, what kind of critical stance does it take toward that imagined reader—challenging, comforting, prophetic, regressive? For me there is always something slightly transgressive about reading imaginative writing theologically.
How does literature shape the world, and the bodies, social forms, and political acts that constitute it? What particular roles might the category of religion, and specifically religious experiences, play in such shaping?
Villanova University’s Center for Political Theology is thrilled to launch this new blog, Literature and Political Theology, with a post from Benjamin Balthaser, one of its editors. We will be sharing posts from the other editors, Kris Trujillo, Mimi Winick, Brook Wilensky-Lanford, and James Ford III over the coming months, between symposia on literary works. Among the literary works that will be discussed are texts by Virginia Woolf, Octavia Butler, Philip K. Dick, Susan Taubes, and Zora Neale Hurston, and Helene Wecker.