The Politics of Poverty: Conscience and Justice in the Modern Novel (thesis)
As a student of literary theory, I am fascinated by how literature explores and elucidates ideology and its concomitant social and cultural impact in the real world—a sort of meta-ideology. With a background in poverty and human capability studies, I am particularly interested in ideological change that substantiates social justice and rectifies morally arbitrary inequality. . . .can a novel tangibly inform and empower real-world change? Can literature convey conscience, a feeling of ethical obligation to do justice in the name of equality and liberty? Can this conscience, in turn, actually lead to justice? I answer these questions in the affirmative and, in doing so, offer a theory that will hopefully fill a void in the way we qualitatively assess the social impact of novels. The theory—what I term the politics of poverty—attempts to show how conceptual understandings of conscience in literature lead to real-world manifestations of justice, alleviating hardship and oppression. This thesis examines Charles Dickens’s Oliver Twist (1838) and Richard Wright’s Native Son (1940) using this theoretical framework. . . . [From Introduction]
Thesis; [FULL-TEXT RESTRICTED TO WASHINGTON AND LEE UNIVERSITY LOGIN]Jake Elijah Struebing is a member of the Class of 2014 of Washington and Lee University.