Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
The use of imaginative literature as a source of philosophical inquiry into the nature of social order, oppression or conflict, as well as the role of violence and nonviolence in personal and political action, has been largely neglected by the field of peace studies. Similarly, literary criticism has failed to confront these issues. While war literature has been used, primarily, as a source of insight into the war experience, peace-studies literary critics, such as Michael True, Gregory Mason and John Getz have sought to identify a literary canon which embodies and inspires the values of peace or the principles of nonviolence. In an attempt to open new critical territory for both the field of peace studies and literary criticism, this thesis investigates the relationship between twentieth-century violence/nonviolence and fiction/literary theory. Based upon a historical and theoretical framework concerned with events such as the Holocaust and the American civil rights movement, as well as the philosophical and social issues which arose from these events, Martin Amis's Time's Arrow (1991), Timothy Findley's Not Wanted on the Voyage (1984) and Alice Walker's Meridian (1976) are analysed from a "postwar" perspective. The "postwar", as I conceive of it, refers not to a historical period but to the act, in practical and symbolic terms, of undermining oppressive and violent relations of power. It does not connote an ideal, just and violence-free society, but the process of moving away from warfare and violence to an undetermined end. In each novel, the authors draw upon established, culturally significant stories to "twist around" history to confront the reader, in the present, with the "meaning" of these (hi)stories. These three novels receive critical attention which confronts such issues as violence, nonviolence, resistance to oppression, and the relationship between means and ends.
Jefferess, David M., "Violence, Nonviolence and "Postwar" Fiction: A Peace-Studies Approach to time's Arrow, Not Wanted on the Voyage and Meridian" (1996). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 6017.
McMaster University Library