Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy


Comparative Literature


Dr. Paul Coates


My contention is that the narrative framework of social movements, especially the ones deemed “successful” such as the American Civil Rights Movement and the Polish Solidarity Movement, reflects unity and collectivity within collective memory. During the period of the movements’ duration, this provides a clear rhetorical purpose: to give the appearance of unity in order to give effective voice to the demands. I argue that the voices that did not fit into the collective movements emerge subsequently to question this monologic language in literary form. This dissertation uses Bakhtin’s notion of dialogic language to argue that novels in the postresistance period challenge the mythical underpinnings of the movements, as well as collective memory, in order to give voice to individual’s experience of the movement. Using postmodern theory, I establish a postresistance analytic framework. The novels I examine resist a narrative of progress from oppression to freedom. Through their fragmented narratives and shifts in time, the individual characters react to the rhetorical frameworks of the movements. I use novels written after the American Civil Rights Movement and Polish Solidarity Movement in order to provide a more complete conception of this postresistance analysis. Ishmael Reed’s Flight to Canada (1976) and Stefan Chwin’s Hanemann (1995) allow me to discuss how dialogic voices question the conception of place and its imagined link to history and myth. I use Alice Walker’s Meridian (1976) and Janusz Anderman’s Cały Czas (2006) to focus on individuals within the movements who question the rhetorical motivations of the movements.