Synopsis: What becomes of theology when we think of it aesthetically? What becomes of aesthetics when we think of it theologically? These are the guiding questions that inform both the method and the conclusions of this volume's exploration into the literary world of Herman Melville's "characteristic theology." Far from a specialist work that simply seeks to flesh out the religious disposition and myriad influences of one particular literary giant, Johnson's focus in this volume is instead the identification of a philosophically robust aesthetic conception of theology at its most politically and contemporarily relevant. By way of the Masquerade it sets in motion and in which it fully participates, from its beginning to its very end, this book uses Melville's fiction as vehicle for a radical aesthetic engagement with the theological bases of subjectivity and sovereignty. Through this exploration Johnson conceives the creatively duplicitous character of a materialistic theology whose aim is nothing less than the fashioning of a new heaven and a new earth. Endorsements: "That great sea monster of a novel, Moby-Dick, has alternatively been celebrated as a product of good Protestant theology and as a work of anti-Christian blasphemy. Melville himself called it a 'wicked book.' In this expansive reassessment of Melville's career, we meet an author who passes through the theological nihilism of Moby-Dick to forge an aesthetics of subjectivity. This is a bold, provocative, sometimes disturbing book, important for students of literature, philosophy, and theology." -Benjamin Myers Charles Sturt University, Sydney "A beautiful performance of the labor of thinking. The range of conversation partners--from Hegel and Zizek to Dave Eggers, Lawrence Sterne, and Clement Greenberg--is exhilarating. The focus on 'character' in all its senses very fruitfully reorganizes the terms of the encounter between philosophy, theology, and politics. And the canon is expanded. Apparently Herman Melville did not just write 'Bartleby, ' Billy Budd, and Moby Dick." -Yvonne Sherwood University of Glasgow Author Biography: Bradley A. Johnson is an independent researcher whose articles on philosophical aesthetics, theology, and politics have appeared in the Journal of Religion, Political Theology, and Postscripts.