Date of Award

4-21-2010

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

English

Abstract

Monica Ali's Brick Lane and Mulk Raj Anand's Untouchable unite through the complex examination of nation and culture that they both perform. By utilizing post-colonial and cultural theories, as well as Judith Bulter's notion of performativity, it is possible to thoroughly study Ali and Anand's portrayal of national culture through their characters and writing. Since these novels focus on characters that experience immigration to Britain or colonization by the British, Ali and Anand employ the opportunities provided by such experiences, which include immigrant and colonized characters that" change their collection of cultural practices and then are contrasted with other characters in similar positions, to emphasize the hybrid national cultures of their characters and novels. These characters' national cultures are revealed to be performative as they make passionate attachments to identification categories, perform the normative practices mechanically, and desire the privileged national culture's attributes, but are still able to rearticulate their national cultural identity within the preexisting signification system. Thus, Ali and Anand highlight the performative construction of national culture by drawing attention to the performances of the hybrid national cultural identities that they portray in and through their novels. These insights that are gained from the juxtaposition of Ali and Anand's writing also trace what has or has not changed about the function of national culture and how the definition of "Britishness" has evolved to expose that this category is in constant flux.

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