Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Postcolonial Novels, Nationalism, National History, Trauma Theory, Family

Major Advisor

Eleni Coundouriotis

Associate Advisor

Kerry Bystrom

Associate Advisor

Patrick Hogan

Associate Advisor

Jerry Phillips

Field of Study



Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Open Access


This study examines the depiction of family histories and stories of familial interactions and dynamics in eight recent postcolonial novels. I examine the depictions of family and nation in these novels and discuss the counter-histories that emerge as a means of questioning national narratives. This project contributes to discussions of the relationship between the nation and the novel and how postcolonial nationalism reshapes understandings of the construction of the nation-state in an increasingly transnational world.

In this study, I draw upon Anne McClintock’s and Susan Strehle’s examinations of how nationalism often separates the idea of family and home even while using these spheres as legitimating metaphors for national power. I examine how the novels’ depictions undermine the division of nation and family and question the subordination of the supposedly private familial life to the public national sphere. I utilize trauma theory, specifically drawing upon the work of Dominick La Capra, to consider how the novels represent the impact of historical events that are traumatic and represent the effects of trauma by structuring its effects into the narrative. I draw upon the work of Chandra Mohanty to argue that these literary depictions prompt a reconsideration of familial relationships in order to rethink and revise nationalism and constructions national identity.