Dissertation defence (English): Nana Arjopalo


24.2.2023 at 12.00 - 16.00
FM Nana Arjopalo defends her dissertation in English entitled “Narrating Deliverance: The Literary Double in the Writing of Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Bharati Mukherjee” at the University of Turku on 24 February 2023 at 12pm (University of Turku, Educarium, Edu2, Assistentinkatu 5, Turku).

The audience can participate in the defence by remote access: https://echo360.org.uk/section/3781cb76-df67-412f-9c22-63b0f97ee4d1/public (copy the link to the browser).

Opponent: Professor Jena Lee Habegger-Conti (Western Norway University of Applied Sciences)
Custos: Professor Joel Kuortti (University of Turku)

Digital copy of the dissertation at UTUPub: https://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-951-29-9143-3 (copy the link to the browser).


Summary of the Doctoral Dissertation:

Doubles and twins are common tropes in literature and popular culture, but their portrayal has often been limited to evil versions of the protagonist, bad omens, or harbingers of death. Nana Arjopalo’s doctoral dissertation explores other meanings for the literary double in contemporary South Asian American writing.

The double is connected to conceptions of identity and selfhood. The dominant notion of an individualized self is largely a Western construction; universal theories on identity and the double do not directly apply to South Asian American fiction due to differing perceptions of subjectivity. Writing ‘I’ requires the construction of identity as a unified subject, and many nondominant groups, such as women and/or ethnic minorities are unable to do so. Instead, ‘I’ may emerge as a plural construction, expressive of a non-unitary self. The concept of a non-unitary self has been a popular topic of scholarship in feminist criticism for several decades, but the focus has been on autobiographical texts. In South Asian American writing, the literary double blurs boundaries between the individual and the community, expressing more than a singular ‘I’ could, and creating new forms of selfhood.

The dissertation studies the double in literary works by three prominent Bengali American writers: Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Bharati Mukherjee. The dissertation argues that in the primary texts examined, the literary double challenges the concept of individual subjectivity with a plural one. Its frequent occurrence is informed by the postcolonial context and connected to the bi-cultural identity of the Bengali American writers and their fictional characters. The double gives voice to that which has been silenced, functioning as a narrative vehicle for deliverance from the past – from individual, familial, or colonial trauma.
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