Date of Completion
Multiculturalism, PEN/Faulkner, PEN/Oakland, William Faulkner Foundation, John Edgar Wideman, David Bradley, Ha Jin, Luis J. Rodriguez, Julia Alvarez, Sabina Murray
Dr. Cathy J. Schlund-Vials
Dr. Clare Eby
Dr. Kate Capshaw
Field of Study
Doctor of Philosophy
“Prizing Difference: PEN Awards and Multiculturalist Politics in American Fiction” considers the multivalent ways in which literary prizes – particularly the PEN/Faulkner prize – highlight a contested set of multiculturalist politics in the U.S. literary canon. Focusing on historical flashpoints such as the mid-century Civil Rights movement, the culture wars of the 1980s, and the 1992 L.A. Riots/Uprisings, I investigate the ways in which shifting understandings of ethnic difference generate competing ideas of what it might mean to successfully incorporate cultural diversity in the U.S. As a significant site of literary canon formation through the recognition and promotion of its prizewinners, the Poets, Essayists and Novelists (PEN) organization has increasingly engaged a multiculturalist agenda through its tactical recognition of ethnic American authors. “Prizing Difference” critically engages this agenda through an examination of how this preoccupation with racial difference in prizewinning novels intersects with competing notions of national identity and belonging. I examine the works of authors such as Luis J. Rodriguez, Julia Alvarez, Philip Roth, David Bradley, John Edgar Wideman, Julie Otsuka, Ha Jin, and Sabina Murray.
Wright, Laura, "Prizing Difference: PEN Awards and Multiculturalist Politics in American Fiction" (2018). Doctoral Dissertations. 1796.
Available for download on Saturday, April 29, 2028