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Title page for ETD etd-04032006-133024

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Fulmer, James Burton
Author's Email Address burt.fulmer@vanderbilt.edu
URN etd-04032006-133024
Title René Girard and the exorcism of the possessed consumer
Degree Master of Arts
Department Social and Political Thought
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
William Franke Committee Chair
George Graham Committee Member
  • identity
  • mimesis
  • desire
  • consumerism
  • Christianity
Date of Defense 2006-04-03
Availability unrestricted
This thesis describes René Girard’s mimetic theory of desire and explicates its relevance for a critique of consumerism, emphasizing the loss of identity that can result from mimesis in a consumer society. It first presents Girard’s theory of desire, giving special attention to its implications for identity development. It then discusses more directly both his limited, explicit treatment of consumerism and the unspoken ways in which his theory can elucidate the situation of the consumer, focusing on how consumer society may manage to prevent the violence that often results from mimetic contagion, but does nothing to prevent what Girard calls “metaphysical desire.” Finally, it turns to Girard’s analysis of novelistic and Christian conversions and suggests how these may be seen as salvific alternatives to consumerism. I hope thereby to develop an effective tool for critiquing consumer society and for advocating Christian compassion and humility as the means of allowing identities stunted by consumerism to flourish.
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