Overview (Identities & Issues in Literature)
In the history of the United States and Canada, religion is one of the most fundamental dimensions of identity in literature. While the focus in literature has tended to shift over the centuries from overt championing of the Christian faith to various reinterpretations of it, religion has continued to be a prominent theme. The role of religion in individual and community identity can be defined in at least three major categories. The first category is prose expressions of religious faith as a foundation for daily life, including memoirs, autobiographies, devotional works, and political documents defining religious beliefs. The second category is creative expressions of religious faith as a source of positive inspiration in poetry, drama, short stories, and novels. The third category is creative expressions of religious faith as a cultural factor to be objectively described or to be countered by individualistic expressions of nontraditional beliefs.