‘Seeking’ as the ‘Soul of the Plot’: An analysis of three vernacular narratives

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Abstract

I argue that the role of the ‘seeker’ and practices of ‘seeking’, especially (but not only) in the field of New Spiritualities, constitute a late modern tradition of practice. Rather than a personal and idiosyncratic form of behaviour with minimal salience, seeking is better understood as a collective mode of thought and practice by means of which receptive subjects adapt to the radical pluralisation of late modern religious authorities. To support my case I discuss three vernacular biographies from different regions of the UK as post-1945 case studies. Drawing on a theoretical framework based in the work of Vladimir Propp and Walter Burkert, I argue that, despite substantive differences, each biography shares a common structure of a search for symbolic goods in the face of multiple competing authorities. I conclude that seeking is a late modern vernacular tradition with historical and anthropological roots.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationVernacular Knowledge
Subtitle of host publicationContesting Authority, Expressing Beliefs
EditorsÜlo Valk, Marion Bowman
Place of PublicationSheffield
PublisherEquinox Publishers
Chapter9
ISBN (Electronic)9781800502147
ISBN (Print)9781781792360, 9781781792377
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2018

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