"How Does it Feel to be a Problem?": Walker Percy and the Problematics of Race

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University of California, Riverside, 2007 - Blacks in literature - 384 pages
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Beyond discursive features, the dissertation investigates Walker Percy's perspectives on race relations in the American South, particularly as they transformed from 1960-1990, the decades during which Percy produced both imaginative work and an extensive body of non-fiction works. The dissertation explores relationships between the perspectives and ideologies presented in Percy's essays, interviews, public addresses, and letters on the issues of race and race relations in the American South to the perspectives as they materialize in his fiction. The dissertation finds that the influence of Percy's Roman Catholic faith, along with the metaphysics of his semiotic speculations, results in Percy's ultimate finding that race and race relations, like the human condition, are less "problematic" than they are mysterious and fraught with paradox. One of the most useful ways to understand and hence to address them, then, is through the communion of incarnate voices in an authentic dialogue, one open to investigations of the self, of the other, and of the possibilities for reconciliation and renewal that can result from this dialogic venture.

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