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Languages of Self: American Immigrant Writers and the New Global Literature
AdvisorGlotfelty, Cheryll A.
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In a global era, identity categories take on new meanings as globalized communities and all their accompanying tokens of identification (social, political, and personal) are formed and placed into competition with previously-held national and local identities. This dissertation explores the ways in which immigrant writers have conceived of identity, grappling not only with the social conditions which give rise to individual and collective identities, but also how these projects are depicted in the literary form. It's clear that an emerging subcategory of writers exists, particularly among immigrant writers, whose literature not only reflects, but also attempts to articulate the concerns of globalization. Because globalization directly impacts our view of interconnections between people, in other words, our notions of community and interpersonal connections, it also directly influences our view of the self and how social and personal identities are formed. It is natural, then, to speak simultaneously of globalization and identity when discussing the impacts globalization has had on the body of American literature. Furthermore, because immigrants are the most socially and economically vulnerable to the forces of globalization, the fiction of immigrant writers tends to strongly reflect transnational discourses on identity. Interconnectivity becomes important for these authors as they create their own sense of community on top of the nation and beyond its boundaries. The literary inheritance of writing produced from the ashes of postmodernism and contemporary globalization, from deterritorialization and interconnectivity, promotes writing that creates a new sense of community. In this project, I limit discussion to immigrant and first-generation writers, to those who have been most directly affected by global forces, in order to examine the ways in which globalization has influenced discussions of identity, and in turn, contemporary American literature. Through close readings of Adeline Yen Mah's <italic>Falling Leaves</italic>, Aleksandar Hemon's <italic>The Lazarus Project</italic>, Junot Díaz's <italic>Drown</italic>, and Rattawut Lapcharoensap's <italic>Sightseeing</italic>, issues which affect contemporary discourses on globalization and identity such as power, marginality, time, space, and history are explored along with their impact on the body of what I term "globalized American literature."