Short Story Cycles

Jhumpa Lahiri’s Fiction in the Context of the American Short Story

The main objective of this thesis is to explain the liminal position of Lahiri’s fiction in the context of the American short story. Lahiri’s short fiction is positioned in this thesis as occupying the interstice between U.S. ethnic studies and cosmopolitanism. The context of the American short story is presented through a diachronic overview of the literary form from the beginning of the 19th century to the beginning of the 21st century. In order to fully understand the context of the American short story this thesis also shows how critical understandings of the American canon have changed within the field of American Studies, especially after the 1970s.

This thesis then continues to elaborate on the specificities of U.S. ethnic fiction, its
general characteristics and tendencies and applies certain elements of them to Lahiri’s fiction. Ethnic fiction is explained using the literary form of the ethnic short story cycle. Furthermore, this thesis outlines the respective theoretical fields of ethnic studies and cosmopolitanism but also shows the limitations of both of these theories. A potential overcoming of those limitations is seen in the combining of the two antagonistically defined fields into a dialectic

This thesis also offers a theoretical understanding of Lahiri’s fiction through a
psychoanalytical prism. The psychoanalytical approach also puts special emphasis on the elements of ethnic fiction and cosmopolitanism found in her short stories. The focus of the psychoanalytical approach is on the effects of assimilation, repression, the uncanny and on analyzing Lahiri’s neurotic characters. Implementing the psychoanalytical framework, this thesis offers an analysis of Lahiri’s two short story collections, Interpreter of Maladies and Unaccustomed Earth. In analyzing the first collection, emphasis is put on the structure which
exemplifies the structure of an ethnic short story cycle and on the importance of food metaphors. Lahiri’s second collection is understood through the figures of the second generation immigrants and intergenerational trauma.

from: Jhumpa Lahiri’s Fiction in the Context of the American
Short Story by Glamuzina, Goran. Master’s thesis / Diplomski rad. 2022.

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