“Necessary fictions”: authorship and transethnic identity in contemporary American narratives

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Leah A. Milne (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/
Christian Moraru

Abstract: As a theory and political movement of the late 20th century, multiculturalism has emphasized recognition, tolerance, and the peaceful coexistence of cultures, while providing the groundwork for social justice and the expansion of the American literary canon. However, its sometimes uncomplicated celebrations of diversity and its focus on static, discrete ethnic identities have been seen by many as restrictive. As this project argues, contemporary ethnic American novelists are pushing against these restrictions by promoting what the author calls transethnicity, the process by which one formulates a dynamic conception of ethnicity that cuts across different categories of identity. Through the use of self-conscious or metafictional narratives, authors such as Louise Erdrich, Junot Díaz, Ruth Ozeki, and Percival Everett mobilize metafiction to expand definitions of ethnicity and to acknowledge those who have been left out of the multicultural picture. The author further argues that ethnic American authors have galvanized self-conscious fiction--particularly stories depicting characters in the act of writing--in order to defy multiculturalism's embrace of coherent, reducible ethnic groups who are best represented by their most exceptional members and by writing that is itself correct and "authentic." Instead, under the transethnic model, ethnicity is self-conflicted, forged through ongoing revision and contestation and in ever-fluid responses to political, economic, and social changes.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2015
American literature, Ethnic American literature, Ethnicity, Metafiction, Multiculturalism, Postmodern, Literature
American literature $x Minority authors
Multiculturalism in literature

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