Term of Award

Spring 2013

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

Dustin Anderson

Committee Member 1

Gautam Kundu

Committee Member 2

Joe Pellegrino

Committee Member 3

Joe Pellegrino


This work argues for a greater reception of transnationalism in literary studies. Though the steady rise of transnationalism has already been studied in many areas of academia, literary studies has only begun to pay attention to it, and scholars appear to remain largely rooted in postcolonial or nationalistic thought. Refusing to read current texts through the lens of transnationalism hinders the literary academy's relevancy since creative writers today are addressing changes to the national structure in their fictive works. This study suggests why a new theoretical construct is needed to understand those texts, and it uses two representative examples: Zadie Smith's novel White Teeth and Dave Eggers' novel What Is the What. Smith's work focuses intently upon the friction people experience in the face of transnationalism when they refuse to let go of their colonial mindset. Eggers' text centers on a Lost Boy from Sudan and, through an alternative form of narration, examines how storytelling itself will have to change, since simple narratives no longer exist in a transnational world and people no longer identify with one nation or setting.

Research Data and Supplementary Material