Seeing the Light
On the Social Logic of Personal Discovery
In Seeing the Light, Thomas DeGloma explores such accounts of personal discovery, employing a variety of primary source materials, from newsletters to websites to video documentaries and foundational texts. In stories that range from the discovery of a religious truth to remembering a childhood trauma to coming out of the closet, DeGloma reveals a common social pattern: When people escape a place of darkness by discovering a life-changing truth, they typically ally with a new community. Individuals then use these autobiographical stories to shape their stances on highly controversial issues such as childhood abuse, war and patriotism, political ideology, and religious conversion. Thus, while such stories are seemingly very personal, they also have a distinctly social nature. Tracing a wide variety of narratives through a stunning three thousand years of history, Seeing the Light uncovers the common threads of such stories and reveals the crucial, little-recognized social logic of personal discovery.