Civilized Music: Postsecularism and the Humoured Body in Don DeLillo’s Underworld, Thomas Pynchon’s Vineland, and David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest
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This thesis examines the way in which the representation of laughter, or the represented experience of humour, is postsecular in the contemporary American fiction of Thomas Pynchon, David Foster Wallace, and Don DeLillo. Laughter dramatizes a paradoxical desire for control that is prayer-like in Pynchon’s Vineland. In Wallace’s Infinite Jest, the humoured body signifies the transcendence of the self out of solipsistic imprisonment. And finally, Don DeLillo’s Underworld, describes laughter as wondrous, powerful, and numinous experience, and the humoured body forges a connection between human beings. Ultimately, the literary analysis attempts to validate the philosophical axioms that the human need for humour is religious and that the topic of humour ought to be included in the discourse of postsecularism.