Lois Wilson

Project Title: “Belief initiates and guides action – or it does nothing.” Towards the postsecular turn in women’s speculative fiction, 1960-present.

 The genres of speculative and science fiction provide an ideal opportunity for writers to play out abstract thought experiments or highlight issues in their own society. Often, this involves a focus on the organizing force of religious belief in an alternative future or universe that raises important questions about our own. My research explores how the landscape of religion has been reimagined by authors such as Octavia Butler, Nalo Hopkinson, Margaret Atwood, Angela Carter, Naomi Alderman, Marge Piercy, Mary Doria Russell, Jeanette Winterson and Ursula Le Guin. It asks what their texts share in terms of alternative ideologies, and how their differing portrayals of Judeo-Christian, secular humanist, pagan or eastern beliefs offer commentaries on our changing world. This interdisciplinary project draws from literary, theological, postcolonial and feminist theory, and explores the questions raised in the “postsecular turn” of the late twentieth century. The term “postsecular” may refer to the end of secularism, but it can also indicate a position from which to critique it as an ideology in itself. Ultimately, the research examines how religious discourse can be a powerful tool both for corruption and for positive change in these fictional works.

Awarded: Carnegie PhD Scholarship

Field: English Literature

University: University of Edinburgh

Latest News