Hungerford explores the work of major American writers, including Allen Ginsberg, Don DeLillo, Cormac McCarthy, Toni Morrison, and Marilynne Robinson, and links their unique visions to the religious worlds they touch. She illustrates how Ginsberg's chant-infused 1960s poetry echoes the tongue-speaking of Charismatic Christians, how DeLillo reimagines the novel and the Latin Mass, why McCarthy's prose imitates the Bible, and why Morrison's fiction needs the supernatural. Uncovering how literature and religion conceive of a world where religious belief can escape confrontations with other worldviews, Hungerford corrects recent efforts to discard the importance of belief in understanding religious life, and argues that belief in belief itself can transform secular reading and writing into a religious act.
Honoring the ways in which people talk about and practice religion, Postmodern Belief highlights the claims of the religious imagination in twentieth-century American culture.
Amy Hungerford focuses her discussion on literary bestsellers as well as little-known traditional and digital literature from smaller presses, such as McSweeney's. She deftly matches the particular human stories of the makers with the impersonal structures through which literary reputation is made. Ranging from fine-grained ethnography to polemical argument, this book transforms our sense of how and why new literature appears—and disappears—in contemporary American culture.