With these two impressive studies, further progress is made in the growing reinvestigation of the ways that religion and the Bible have been at the center of American reading and writing. These volumes diverge in crucial ways, but they also feature important similarities: Claude Le Fustec’s work is highly theoretical and aimed at critics concerned with canonical works of the highest order, while Erin Smith’s work focuses on the reading practices of ordinary Americans in the context of mainstream best sellers that have typically remained unexamined by literary critics. These critics come together in a shared interest in the instrumental power of reading. Both also sharply call into question the explanatory powers of the secularization thesis, thus providing ample opportunity for thinking about the emergence of the mode and theory we are now identifying as the postsecular. In other words, these...

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