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Exemplary U.S. Ethnic Bildungsromane in the Era of High Multiculturalism


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Kvarantan, Alma. (2018). Exemplary U.S. Ethnic Bildungsromane in the Era of High Multiculturalism. Diploma Thesis. Filozofski fakultet u Zagrebu, Department of English Language and Literature. [mentor Šesnić, Jelena].

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In this graduation thesis I explore how members of marginalized groups form their identity and integrate into the mainstream society. This is done by comparing the classical European Bildungsroman as defined by Franco Moretti, with the Bildungsroman written by ethnic authors in the era of high multiculturalism in the United States. The novels chosen for the analysis are The House on Mango Street (1984) by Sandra Cisneros, Breath, Eyes, Memory (1994) by Edwidge Danticat, The Kite Runner (2003) by Khaled Hosseini and American Dervish (2012) by Ayad Akhtar. The protagonists of the chosen novels all belong to different minority groups. I offer a brief summary of the origins and features of the Bildungsroman and a brief history of the development of multiculturalism around the world with a focus on its development in the United States and how the Civil Rights movement and the change in the composition of the US population contributed to the move from the notion of the melting pot to that of multiculturalism. The question of multiculturalism’s validity at the present time has been briefly explored as well. Based on Christopher Douglas’s book A Genealogy of Literary Multiculturalism the development of literary multiculturalism has also been explained. Douglas partitions literary multiculturalism into three phases and we are interested in the third phase, i.e. the period from 1965 onwards, because at that time there is an increase in multicultural literary work and revisions of traditional genres, including the Bildungsroman. In the analysis I study how the protagonists reach maturity and thus form their identity by finding a balance between the expectations of the immigrant community and the mainstream society. Furthermore, we see how the tension between the ethnic and the national is aggravated by discrimination and alleviated by education. In the analysis we also see in what ways the classical Bildungsroman and the ethnic multicultural Bildungsroman differ.

Item Type: Diploma Thesis
Uncontrolled Keywords: the classical Bildungsroman, the US ethnic Bildungsroman, multiculturalism, immigration
Subjects: English language and literature
Departments: Department of English Language and Literature
Supervisor: Šesnić, Jelena
Date Deposited: 28 Nov 2018 10:44
Last Modified: 28 Nov 2018 10:44

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