Graduation Date


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department or Program

Graduate Humanities

Department or Program Chair

Joshua Horowitz, PhD

First Reader

Thomas Burke, MFA

Second Reader

Mairi Pileggi, PhD


Re­‐naming one’s self is an empowering act of self­‐definition; re­‐naming others is an attempt to codify, contain and censure identity. Re­‐naming emerges as a compelling theme in contemporary transnational literature, appearing in three notable texts: Zadie Smith's White Teeth (2000), Jeffrey Eugenides' Middlesex (2002) and Salman Rushdie's memoir Joseph Anton (2012). These texts depict stories of diaspora, the forced migration or dispersal away from a homeland. Communities of diaspora negotiate between two cultures: an originary culture and the culture of the new geographic location. From these negotiations emerge a third, hybridized identity that reimagines the majority culture and challenges structural inequity. Personal acts of re­‐naming parallel diasporic experience, and this thesis demonstrates how re­‐naming and hybrid identities call for more plural epistemologies of belonging in an increasingly globalized and interconnected world.