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Permanent link (DOI): https://doi.org/10.7939/R3S756W6B

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Aesthetics, Symbols, Metal: Religion and Defilement in a Post-Secular Age Open Access

Descriptions

Other title
Subject/Keyword
regression
Fyodor Dostoevsky
death metal
defilement
Paul Ricoeur
Jacques Derrida
authenticity
psychoanalysis
hermeneutics
Richard Kearney
Gianni Vattimo
transgression
Christian extreme metal
purity
phenomenology
black metal
religion
extreme metal
subcultures
aesthetics
Julia Kristeva
contingency
the grotesque
Mary Douglas
symbols
post-secular theory
Type of item
Thesis
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Unger, Matthew P.
Supervisor and department
Kent, Stephen A. (Sociology)
Examining committee member and department
Mos, Leendert P. (Psychology)
Shields, Rob (Sociology)
Barbour, Charles (Sociology)
Savage, Roger (Ethnomusicology)
Department
Department of Sociology
Specialization

Date accepted
2013-08-21T11:56:17Z
Graduation date
2013-11
Degree
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Doctoral
Abstract
This dissertation relies on the wager that we live in an age in which seemingly archaic religious symbols contribute to how people orient themselves, respond to, and explain things in the world. Drawing from Paul Ricoeur’s early texts on religion, symbolism, evil, and defilement, I analyze three predominant interpretations of the return of religion, or the post-secular. I examine how these three interpretations, which I label regression, authenticity, and contingency, in fact rely upon each other and their mediation allows a theory of symbolic aesthetics that reflects the contingent coalescence of the political, the moral, and the juridical. The empirical portion of my study—the analysis of the musical subgenre and subculture of heavy metal, extreme metal—reinforces the idea that even deeply irreligious, transgressive, and grotesque art forms exemplify the unique manner of religion’s significance in the post-secular moment. Contrary to the idea that religion functions as a semi-autonomous social sphere, I argue that the symbols of defilement, authenticity, and purity signify that religion, social discourses, and phenomenological experience co-create and co-constrain each other. A close examination of this interaction within popular culture exemplifies the evocative nature and deep historical import of these symbols. My fieldwork and discourse analysis of extreme metal reflects this confluence and coalescence of the psychological, the social, the juridical, and the political.
Language
English
DOI
doi:10.7939/R3S756W6B
Rights
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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