Award Date

5-1-2013

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

First Committee Member

Beth C. Rosenberg

Second Committee Member

Mustapha Marrouchi

Third Committee Member

Megan Becker-Leckrone

Fourth Committee Member

Ralph Buechler

Number of Pages

247

Abstract

Joyce's "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man" functions as an axis around which writers from former British colonies--Salman Rushdie (India), Tayeb Salih (Sudan), and Tsitsi Dangarembga (Zimbabwe)--construct their own Bildungsromans. This nodal point is possible because Joyce's Bildungsroman represents a unique rendering of the genre which has proven useful for narratives of growth and development in newly independent nations. This dissertation focuses on a single narrative paradigm which acts as a common thread among the four authors. In each text (Rushdie's "Midnight's Children", Salih's "Season of Migration to the North", and Dangarembga's "Nervous Conditions"), the use of political issues acts as a driving force for the protagonist's Bildungs--the ongoing course of growth, maturation, and development which allows the Bildungs held to find his or her place in the wider world--as much or more so than providing political commentary. Political issues are thus often subordinated in the text to the narrative of development. The protagonist's Bildung in turn acts as a microcosm for the difficulties and growth process of a fledgling nation, and it exhibits the author's vision for his or her nation's future path.

The critical element of Joyce's Bildungsroman is Stephen Dedalus's virtual obsession with individualism, his seemingly ceaseless efforts to separate himself from everyone and everything around him, including his father, his mother, his country, his church, and the British Empire. These efforts force Stephen to attempt to avoid direct political involvement at all costs, even though the novel's most explicitly political moment--the Christmas dinner incident of chapter one--acts as a springboard for his personal development and for his desire to remain apart and removed. Moreover, his efforts to remain detached from politics and public life are destined to failure. The result is a narrative of development which suggests an inextricable link between public and private, between individual Bildung and national progress. That paradigm for the narrative of development proves valuable for Rushdie, Salih, and Dangarembga as they interrogate their own nations' progress after independence. The Joycean model of the Bildungsroman has thus proven to be particularly appropriate in the midst of the rapid emergence of new nation-states in the aftermath of empire, and as the world continues to evolve, the Bildungsroman will undoubtedly grow with it and maintain its relevance.

Keywords

Bildungsromans; British Empire; Colonialism; Colonies; Criticism; Dangarembga, Tsitsi; Imperialism; India; Joyce, James, 1882-1941; Neocolonialism; Rushdie, Salman; Ṣalih, al-Ṭayyib; Zimbabwe

Disciplines

African Languages and Societies | Literature in English, British Isles | Modern Literature | Other Languages, Societies, and Cultures

Language

English