Living in limbo : creating transnational identities in literature

WCU Author/Contributor (non-WCU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Rachel Caroline Adams (Creator)
Western Carolina University (WCU )
Web Site:
Laura Wright

Abstract: This thesis examines the ways transnational identities are created in three works of fiction: Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea (1966), Julia Alvarez’s How the García Girls Lost Their Accents (1991), and Zakes Mda’s The Heart of Redness (2000). I base my analysis on Stephen Clingman’s articulation of the nature(s) of transnational literature: that is particularly concerned with boundaries and their navigation; Benedict Anderson’s concept of the imagined community. Putting these theories into play with each other, I look at various transnational identities the protagonists of these texts create—how they must imagine themselves to be members of multiple, sometimes conflicting, nations, and how they learn to navigate the boundaries between these nations. I also examine which characters “benefit” from their transnationalism and why, based on their various nexuses of race, gender, ethnicity, class, and location in temporal and historical space. Antonio Benítez-Rojo’s theory of the repeating island serves as the backbone for my concluding thoughts, in which I posit the idea that what distinguishes transnational literature from other literatures is its distortion and interruption of chronological time. Throughout the work, I incorporate concepts from outside the world of literary theory in order to emphasize the fact that, although this thesis deals with literary texts, the identities created within the texts also exist, and are of primary importance, outside literature.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2014
alvarez, anderson, clingman, mda, rhys, transnational
Rhys, Jean. -- Wide Sargasso Sea
Alvarez, Julia. -- How the Garcia girls lost their accent
Mda, Zakes. -- Heart of redness
Identity (Philosophical concept) in literature
Literature and transnationalism
Transnationalism in literature

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