Date of Award

Spring 5-16-2019

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

English

First Advisor

Dr. Joanna Levin

Second Advisor

Dr. Ian Barnard

Third Advisor

Dr. Rei Magosaki

Abstract

Looking primarily at two critically acclaimed texts that concern themselves with American citizenship—F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and Stephanie Powell Watts’ No One is Coming to Save Us—I analyze the claims made about citizenship identities, rights, and consequential access to said rights. I ask, how do these narratives about citizenship sustain, create, or re-envision American myth? Similarly, how do the narratives interact with the dominant culture at large? Do any of these texts achieve oppositional value, and/or modify the complex hegemonic structure? I use Pierre Bourdieu’s “The Forms of Capital” to investigate the ways in which economic, cultural, and social capital are distributed amongst identity groups of citizens, focusing on its favorable distribution to white upper-class men. Interesting, too, is the way in which these texts relate with one another and evolve over time. As Fitzgerald reaffirms boundary rights to white upper-class social capital to longstanding wealthy white males, Watts celebrates the survival of black individuals through the hard-earned persistence of human connection. Ultimately, as Gatsby fails to repeat the past, Watts succeeds in rewriting it.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Available for download on Monday, May 17, 2021

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