Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Committee Member

Vincent Perez

Second Committee Member

Evelyn Gajowski

Third Committee Member

Gary Totten

Fourth Committee Member

Jorge Galindo

Number of Pages



Over the last thirty years, the hemispheric turn in the field of American Literature has led to exciting and unique possibilities for scholarship and pedagogy. This shift away from nationalistic notions of literary canons, and the consequent decentering of the United States within the literary hemisphere, has opened new avenues for how we understand and teach American literature. In many ways, this turn has allowed for the reclamation of what it means to be “American” in such a way that reminds us that, “the name America has rightfully belonged to the entire hemisphere […] and that its equation with the United States is a relatively recent act of ‘rhetorical malpractice’” (Bauer 239). Hemispheric notions of belonging are of particular importance when viewed through the lens of our current political climate that is a veritable powder-keg fueled by racist, sexist, xenophobic, and nationalistic sentiments. In these uncertain times, questions of citizenship and what it means to belong reveal themselves as being of the utmost urgency.

While much has been written in the field of hemispheric literary studies over the last few decades, the issue of citizenship, particularly as it intersects with the subjects of race and gender, is an under-explored area of study. This dissertation explores these intersecting issues within the works of W. E. B. Du Bois and José Martí (Chapter One), Richard Wright and Alejo Carpentier (Chapter Two), Toni Morrison and Gabriel García Márquez (Chapter Three), and Jamaica Kincaid and Edwidge Danticat (Chapter Four). These textual pairings serve to highlight the complicated structures of identity formation as they emerge from or in relation to citizenship and belonging.

The idea of citizenship has been explored by many scholars in a wide variety of fields. While definitions of citizenship are admittedly fluid, Kathleen Knight Abowitz and Jason Harnish provide an excellent starting point for this conversation in their article “Contemporary Discourses of Citizenship” (2006). They argue that, “Citizenship, at least theoretically, confers membership, identity, values, and rights of participation and assumes a body of common political knowledge” (653). While this initial definition limits itself to a certain type of citizenship, specifically political citizenship that presupposes the ability for civic participation, it provides a productive starting point for this study. Starting from political or “legal” citizenship, or “legal” citizenship, over four chapters I consider how this concept intersects with cultural citizenship. In addition to exploring how legal and cultural ideas of belonging contradict and intersect with one another, I also examine how race and gender influence how these modes of citizenship come to bear on the characters in the eight novels to be analyzed. This will shed light on how these convergences and divergences change and evolve over time. This project addresses how intersectional notions of citizenship race, and gender overdetermine sets of identities in four pairs of narratives from across the Americas.


African American Literture; Citizenship; Comparative Studies; Hemispheric Studies; Latina/o Literature; Multiethnic Literture


American Literature | Arts and Humanities | Latin American Languages and Societies | Latin American Literature | Other Languages, Societies, and Cultures

File Format


File Size

7600 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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