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Exile as an Element of Everyday Existence in the Works of Contemporary Female Authors

Visnja Vujin, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


The following study examines the complexities surrounding identity negotiation in transnational literature written by twentieth and twenty-first century female authors. By focusing on nine authors, including Sandra Cisneros, Reyna Grande, Vesna Marić, Nadja Tesich, Julia Alvarez, Cristina García, Dubravka Ugrešić, Vesna Goldsworthy, and Achy Obejas, I analyze how they explore processes of identity representation and negotiation following physical displacement from their characters’ homelands. I draw upon recent theories of exile literature, national identity, identity negotiation, and borderland studies, in order to demonstrate how these authors uncover the complexity of contemporary exile and identity negotiation processes. I then explore the diverse aspects of exile and how these aspects affect the lives of female characters who find themselves struggling to come to terms with their multicultural identities. Over the course of this study, the term ‘exile’ has been used to denote physical and psychological displacement the characters experience after their physical detachment from their homelands, which further results in their profound lack of a sense of self. Ultimately, this dissertation argues that exile should be perceived as dialectical in nature, in order to account for diverse experiences of displacement twenty and twenty-first century people experience, and relies on works that highlight the need for a more inclusive definition of this concept. Finally, the comparative aspect of this study offers a look at authors who hail from different cultural backgrounds and who write about diverse exilic experiences, proving once again that there is no such thing as a uniform exile experience, despite certain parallels that can be drawn between these works. By juxtaposing writers of diverse heritages and backgrounds, I establish a transnational hemispheric dialogue between North American, South American, and Southeast European female authors, and I provide a comprehensive look at the works of contemporary female authors writing about different types of displacement.

Subject Area

Comparative literature|Ethnic studies|Gender studies

Recommended Citation

Vujin, Visnja, "Exile as an Element of Everyday Existence in the Works of Contemporary Female Authors" (2020). ETD collection for University of Nebraska-Lincoln. AAI27956780.