Term of Award

Spring 2018

Degree Name

Master of Arts in English (M.A.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Literature and Philosophy

Committee Chair

Joe Pellegrino

Committee Member 1

Gautam Kundu

Committee Member 2

Hans-Georg Erney


In this essay, I will discuss Carter G. Woodson’s notion of the “mis-education” black Americans face and its applicability in British novelist, Zadie Smith’s, debut novel, White Teeth. This novel shows how mis-education affects four generations of female Caribbean migrants. My analysis emphasizes how this mis-education shapes the life of Smith’s character, Irie Jones. Throughout the text, Irie suffers from low self-esteem due to her cultural rootlessness. I attribute this rootlessness to the mis-education inherited from her female predecessors. Ultimately, I explore how instead of defeating this familial baggage, she falls victim to it.

Research Data and Supplementary Material