Heather Ouellette

Heather Ouellette

University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth

English


2003

Mentor: Emily Hinnov, Graduate Student, Department of English

Interpreting the Diaspora? South Asian Authors in America

Minority authors today still feel pressure to fulfill the role of the other to the western audience, often resulting in bland narratives that do not stray far from convention, such as those addressing ethnic food, the "exotic" female, and other stereotypes. Because of geographical factors and generational differences, the portrayal of "traditional" stories of Indian life are divergent. This study will analyze the effects of postcolonialism, if any, on contemporary South Asian and Indian-American literature, using three collections of short stories by Indian women.

All three women currently reside, write, and/or teach in the United States. Does the fact that these writers have settled in the States undermine or reinforce their efforts towards portraying an "authentic" narrative of Indian (or American) life? This proposal questions if location automatically limits the perspective of ethnic heritage and authority.

Is one voice among the three writers more authentic than the other two? My proposal will address the need for a definition of authenticity, but I can posit a definition of my own, if possible, only after my research is complete. I further propose exploring the dangers of prescribing authenticity to a certain kind of narrative, which only serves to claim authority while negating all other works.

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