Date of Award

Summer 8-15-2020

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department

English and American Literature

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



Minor Fictions situates the bildungsroman as a key site for the adjudication of American citizenship and belonging over the long twentieth century. While the bildungsroman, as a literary technology for transmitting citizenship, develops subject-citizens and rights-based discourses, the minority bildungsroman highlights how rhetorical comparisons of young people and marginalized people energized fictions of national and individual development to define �proper� Americans. Over this historical period, authors of fiction worked to counter changes in citizenship regimes, which shifted over time in response to the vicissitudes of domestic and global politics, economic conditions, and race relations. This dissertation identifies bildungsroman tropes and explores how the pressure of historical forces contorts those tropes: the Fugitive Slave Act disorients mobility and self-possession, Jim Crow laws and segregation discourage masculine heteronormative growth, Japanese American internment and public health logics contain social integration, and capitalist and colonial border politics disinvest bourgeois individualism. By drawing out the developmental directives that defined American belonging from the delineation of citizenship to the present, this project explores the overlapping logics of the �minor��the minor age and the minority individual or literature � that undergird American exceptionalism and civic projects of modernity, civilization, settler colonialism, and empire.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Rafia Zafar

Committee Members

Long Le-Khac, Melanie Micir, William Maxwell, Cynthia Barounis,

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