In any age, humans wrestle with apparently inexorable forces. Today, we face the threat of global terrorism. In the aftermath of September 11, few could miss sensing that a great evil was at work in the world. In Flannery O’Connor’s time, the threats came from different sources—World War II, the Cold War, and the Korean conflict—but they were just as real. She, too, lived though a “time of terror.” The first major critical volume on Flannery O’Connor’s work in more than a decade, Flannery O’Connor in the Age of Terrorism explores issues of violence, evil, and terror—themes that were never far from O’Connor’s reach and that seem particularly relevant to our present-day setting.
The fifteen essays collected here offer a wide range of perspectives that explore our changing views of violence in a post-9/11 world and inform our understanding of a writer whose fiction abounds in violence. Written by both established and emerging scholars, the pieces that editors Avis Hewitt and Robert Donahoo have selected offer a compelling and varied picture of this iconic author and her work. Included are comparisons of O’Connor to 1950s writers of noir literature and to the contemporary American novelist Cormac McCarthy; cultural studies that draw on horror comics of the Cold War and on Fordism and the American mythos of the automobile; and pieces that shed new light on O’Connor’s complex religious sensibility and its role in her work.
While continuing to speak fresh truths about her own time, O’Connor’s fiction also resonates deeply with the postmodern sensibilities of audiences increasingly distant from her era—readers absorbed in their own terrors and sense of looming, ineffable threats. This provocative new collection presents O’Connor’s work as a touchstone for understanding where our culture has been and where we are now. With its diverse approaches, Flannery O’Connor in the Age of Terrorism will prove useful not only to scholars and students of literature but to anyone interested in history, popular culture, theology, and reflective writing.
Avis Hewitt has published articles in Flannery O’Connor Review, Christianity and Literature, and Renascence. She is associate professor of English at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan.
Robert Donahoo is professor of English at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas. He has published articles in Flannery O’Connor Review, Literature and Belief, Journal of Contemporary Thought, and Journal of the Short Story in English.