The ‘Old Western Men’: A Religious Mode of Response to the Conditions of ‘Secular’ Modernity, 1900-1970

Frampton, Daniel (2017) The ‘Old Western Men’: A Religious Mode of Response to the Conditions of ‘Secular’ Modernity, 1900-1970. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Abstract

This thesis forwards the concept of the ‘Old Western Men’, a phrase borrowed from C. S. Lewis, who used this term to assert the presence of a ‘Great Divide’ in history. Modernity, he believed, was essentially secular, unlike what had preceded it. In this sense, he was in opposition to it as a Christian. This thesis’s unique contribution to the current literature is that it applies Lewis’s identification of the Old Western Men to a broader spectrum of intellectuals and artists, previously referred to, more narrowly, as the ‘Catholic literary revival’. This Ph.D. locates such a revival within a broader ‘religious mode of response’ to modernity, which such men of letters as Lewis believed to be fundamentally materialistic; meaning that modernity denied the existence of an objective spiritual reality. Chapter one describes the general concept of the Old Western Men, including how it confronted secular modernity by attempting to reconcile mind with matter as part of an intellectual via media (middle way); it will also examine the importance that some intellectuals invested in the concept of imaginative understanding. Chapter two focuses on an Old Western emphasis on the ‘More-Than-World’ within the world, one that was essentially sacramental, having come to reconcile reason with the imagination. Chapter three forwards the Old Western notion of thinking ‘christianly’ by cultivating a divine indifference to worldly catastrophe. This also entails examining the concept of self-sanctification, as well as how the Old Western Men responded to the violence of their century by inviting the supernatural into their lives. Chapter four concludes the thesis by examining the spiritual/cultural device of Christendom as a redemptive discourse combatting European nationalism and racialism.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Art, Media and American Studies
Depositing User: Stacey Armes
Date Deposited: 22 Mar 2018 12:35
Last Modified: 22 Mar 2018 12:35
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/66544
DOI:

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