Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Phillip Sipiora, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Tova Cooper, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Ylce Irizarry, Ph.D.


altruism, apocalypse, desert, divinity, ethics


My thesis entails an examination into the presence of the sublime in two novels by Cormac McCarthy: his postmodern western The Crossing and his apocalyptic work The Road. I draw on Kant's aesthetic theory of the sublime, specifically focusing on the Dynamical and Mathematical sublime in relation to the settings of these two narratives. For the sake of brevity, I limit my study to nature's and religion's relation to the sublime in these works. Areas of particular interest to me include: a) How/why the characters of each novel appear unaffected by or even resigned to the lack of control or explanation concerning their surroundings and b) Whether the characters' sense of choice is dependent upon the presence of the sublime in their surroundings. At the thesis' conclusion, I suggest further routes for research, such as the potential connection between the aforementioned Kantian notion of human freedom and a burgeoning concept of morality in McCarthy's later novels, and perhaps a link from McCarthy's sublime and otherworldly slant to literary subgenres such as Magical Realism.