2007 Student Research Conference:
20th Annual Student Research Conference

Language & Literature

“I think I know what you did last night”: An Evaluation of Organized Midwestern Religion
Cara A. Hurst
Dr. Alanna Preussner, Faculty Mentor

Organized religion has always been a point of debate. The faith and strict teachings of many Protestant religions, especially in the Midwest, has and will continue to spur heated conversation. Midwestern novelist and Nobel Prize winner Sinclair Lewis created several characters which embody such religious zeal; most notably, Elmer Gantry. However, I contend that this rambunctious religious attitude is merely a cover for immoral action. Through an analysis of the main characters in O.E. Rolvaag's "Giants in the Earth" and Sinclair Lewis's "Elmer Gantry" I will argue that organized religion ultimately serves as a material force which supports a less than holy personal desire. More specifically, I will claim that organized religion in a Midwestern landscape has and continues to provide an excuse for moral misconduct, allowing it to be used as a tangible tool for personal gain rather than as an abstract belief or concept for spiritual contentment.

Keywords: Elmer Gantry, O.E. Rolvaag, Beret Hansa, Sinclair Lewis, Midwest, Organized Religion, Corruption, Protestant

Topic(s):English

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 58-2
Location: OP 2117
Time: 3:00 pm

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