Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Gorman, David J.

Degree Name

Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)

Legacy Department

Department of English


American literature; Philosophy; Social psychology; Individualism in literature; Ethnic groups in literature; Self in literature; Minorities in literature; American fiction--Minority authors--History and criticism


Drawing from existential philosophy, neuroscience, and social psychology, in Writing Against the Ethos of Individualism: A Study in Contemporary Multiethnic American Fiction, I investigate the representation of the self in fictions by Bharati Mukherjee, Leslie Marmon Silko, Maxine Hong Kingston, Sandra Cisneros, and Toni Morrison. I argue that these writers imagine the lives of their fictional characters in terms of the phenomenology of existence and reveal how subjective experiences and personal relationships influence who these characters are and who they become. In imagining a self's authentic ontology in relation to others, multiethnic writers not only write against the dominant narratives of our time that posit each individual as an end in itself but also question Martin Heidegger's view of an authentic selfhood as untenable. In addition, they make a strong case for a change in the individualistic ethical principles of the West to a more humane paradigm, which in Native American philosopher V. F. Cordova's words is "a recognition of the We-factor.".


Advisors: David Gorman.||Committee members: Michael Day; James Giles.


145 pages




Northern Illinois University

Rights Statement

In Copyright

Rights Statement 2

NIU theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from Huskie Commons for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without the written permission of the authors.

Media Type