Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Thesis


Humanism in literature; Humanism in music; Black metal (Music); Wallace, David Foster;


The twenty-first century appears to herald a new epoch, one in which religion and other similar belief systems appear to have run their course. However, this should not necessarily mean that other forms of spirituality and interconnectedness must fade away. Within America, there is a humanistic undercurrent that is gaining strength within our postmodern condition, even as we begin to challenge several of the tenets of postmodernity itself. The groundswell of American humanism has a notable and wholly unintended effect: it ideologically rehabilitates modes or vehicles of thought that might otherwise be labeled as defunct, or inapplicable to the changing world around them. Two forms of discourse that have been changed in this way are black metal and postmodern literature, by United States bands such as Liturgy and Wolves In the Throne Room, and by writers like David Foster Wallace. While both of these art forms initially sought to revolt against a perceived status quo, once their revolutions became culturally codified, they seemed to lose much of their potency. However, by choosing to operate within these art forms' modes of discourse, but not adopting all of their accompanying ideological baggage, Liturgy, Wolves In the Throne Room, and David Foster Wallace have breathed new life into the husks of former rebellions not by simply acting as deconstructionists, but as constructors as well. Discontent to accept the empty victories of misanthropic nihilism and despair that were once inextricably associated with their genre, these United States black metallers favor transcendence and spiritual growth within their black metal. Concordantly, David Foster Wallace's writing utilizes many of the forms of postmodern literature, but discards an all-out allegiance to a particular postmodern use of irony's iconoclasm, and uses them to speak to an attentive interconnectedness that he sees as integral to the human experience. All three artists hearken to a deeper, mindful humanism that values an existential need for self-determination and also recognizes the essential interconnectedness of the human condition. While all three artists also recognize the difficulty inherent in such a task, they see it as vital to the continuance of a positive human experience.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Department of Languages and Literatures

First Advisor

Grant Tracey

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (iii, 82 pages)



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