Date of Award

Spring 4-22-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Matthew Suazo


My thesis explores the ways postcolonial and postmodern authorship informs the practice of storytelling as a performance that draws attention to the process of narrative construction. I use the texts: Foe by J.M. Coetzee, Running in the Family by Michael Ondaatje, and The Moor’s Account by Laila Lalami to argue that these texts establish authorship as a mechanism of agency over the production of one’s truth, proposing alternate constructions of truth that vary from the West. I begin with Foe to examine how Coetzee decenters his authorial voice to prevent himself from voicing the subaltern. Coetzee expands upon these dynamics of power, language, authorship and what it means to tell one’s story to speak the truth. My second chapter on Ondaatje analyzes how personal history becomes convoluted and uncertain, as Ondaatje indicates the ways in which the telling of history is a social construction. Most importantly, storytelling serves as the continuation of the multiple identities Ondaatje’s father possesses, and Ondaatje enshrines this multiplicity in his memoir without any conclusive answers about his own self-identity. My last chapter focuses on The Moor’s Account exposes how the subaltern uses Western modes of language and knowledge to subvert dominant historical narratives. Lalami uses it as a point of departure for her novel, and ultimately expands how this mode of writing can use fiction to reimagine historical events through fictionalizing historical figures to uplift the marginalized voice. I conclude that renewing these stories through these different authorial voices creates narratives that are transnational tools of knowledge. Instead of displacing the subaltern, these narratives recenter their voices and open up new forms of interpretation of identity, culture, and place.

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