Although sometimes religion and sexuality are treated as an aberrant theme in American literary and religious history, American writers from Nathaniel Hawthorne to John Updike have been fascinated with the connection between religious and sexual experience. Through the voice of American fiction, Religion and Sexuality in American Literature examines the relations of body and spirit (religion and sexuality). Using both canonical and non-canonical fiction, Ann-Janine Morey examines novels dealing with the ministry as the medium wherein so many of the tensions of religion and sexuality are dramatised and then moves to contemporary novels that deal with moral and religious issues through metaphor. Based upon a sophisticated and selective application of metaphor theory, deconstruction and feminist postmodernism, Morey argues that while American fiction has replicated many traditional animosities, there are also some rather surprising resources here for commonality between men and women if we acknowledge and understand the intimate relationship between language and physical life.
Introduction; 1. Body languagebioluminescence of metaphor; 2. The stubborn density of desire: religion and sexuality in nineteenth-century fiction; 3. A tradition of divine lechery: men write about the ministry; 4. A war of words: women write about the ministry; 5. Comfort to the enemy: women write about the ministry; 6. The fox in the well: metaphors of embodiment in the androcentric imagination; 7. Fatal abstractions: metaphors of embodiment in the gynocentric imagination; 8. Conclusion: words are not the thing itself; Appendices; Bibliography; Index.