Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Science

Document Type



What does it mean, and what does it take, to practice personal responsibility in the face of political oppression? In this dissertation, I trace the essential themes of responsibility through a critical analysis of three stories: Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, C. S. Lewis’s That Hideous Strength, and George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. No comparative study of these important works of twentieth-century political literature exists. Yet, each of these stories merits the attention of students of character and politics because all three unforgettably portray men who strive to live meaningful lives against the contrived meaning imposed on them by those in power. Importantly, my inquiry into personal responsibility through these stories is also a study in poetic imagination—a study in the relationship between imagination and reason, and the significance of that relationship for politics. In this task, I draw on C.S. Lewis’s understanding of human beings as poetical animals, or story creatures, and his effort to revalidate a balanced relationship between reason and imagination. I contend that, through their stories, Huxley, Lewis, and Orwell help us see what it means to become accountable actors in the face of political oppression. I examine three essential themes of personal responsibility: integrity of the word, integrity of the human person, and foundations of political society. To conclude, I reflect on the relationship between personal responsibility and the quest for justice in light of these stories. Throughout, one of my primary tasks in this study is to show how each story invites us to witness and reflect on the use and abuse of words, of persons, and of power, in a way that at once draws and enables us to become accountable actors.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Student has submitted appropriate documentation to restrict access to LSU for 365 days after which the document will be released for worldwide access.

Committee Chair

Sandoz, G. Ellis