Date of Award

8-2010

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Legacy Department

History

Advisor

Grubb, Alan

Committee Member

Marks , Steven G.

Committee Member

Barczewski , Stephanie L.

Abstract

The fin-de-sicle in Europe was a time in which, perhaps more than any other, thinkers framed social questions in religious, mystical, and particularly Christian, forms. The persistence, in the late 19th century, of Romantic narratives of sin and salvation coincided with the growth of organized social movements, with the result that many socialist thinkers saw the movement of history as one of redemption from some primal loss of unity. The three social thinkers which comprise this examination--GŽrard de Lacaze-Duthiers, Charles PŽguy, and Edward Carpenter--demonstrated an ambiguity between religious antecedents and engagement with contemporary problems, very like the more self-conscious fusions of tradition and change perpetrated by the artists and poets of the Modernist moment. All three shared a neo-Romantic preoccupation with man's conflicted nature--the presence of sin, suffering, and opposition to good which coexists with heroic integrity in the world--and all tried to resolve the problem using heterodox Christian modes of thought and argument, although their hoped-for paradises were temporal, secular, and socialist. Exploring their social projects and respective levels of success will clarify, on the one hand, how fanatical conservatism often takes the guise of avant-garde progressivism, but, conversely, how even the unconscious application of traditional, orthodox religious concepts can in some cases empower progressive, humanist social goals.

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