Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of English

Content Description

1 online resource (v, 293 pages)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Ed Schwarzschild

Committee Members

Lynne Tillman, Glyne Griffith, Erica Fretwell


border theory, fiction, intersectional feminism, multiethnic literature, postcolonial American studies, short stories, Women, Girls, Women in literature, Short stories, American, Feminist fiction, American

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities | Creative Writing | Women's Studies


A collection of nine short stories entitled THE TROUBLE WITH BRIGHT GIRLS is unified by women’s diverse coming-of-age experiences in late twentieth century transnational America. The story collection relies on techniques that highlight dislocation—temporal skips and wide temporal frames, fragmented and recursive narratives, borrowed genres, absurd premise, anti-heroines and anti-epiphanies—which gesture toward collective human experiences while troubling notions of universal knowledge and values and resisting redemption or closure. The critical introduction situates the collection through the theoretical lens of intersectional feminism, informed by Gloria Anzaldúa’s concept of the borderlands, and in relation to field of multiethnic/transnational literature of the U.S. An analysis of Lucy by Jamaica Kincaid, When I Was Puerto Rican by Esmeralda Santiago, and How the García Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez suggests new markers of the bildungsroman informed by Susan Stanford Friedman’s theory of new geographies. It is suggested that unlike previous theorizations of the bildungsroman, in transnational American literature the genre privileges movement, double consciousness, and hybridity, which itself is haunted by a network of ongoing pasts that result in permeable, contradictory, and open-ended subjectivities. Drawing on American and postcolonial studies, and in concert with intersectional feminism that interrogates interlocking constructs of gender, race, class, citizenship, and ableism, this creative-critical study hybridizes the craft of creative writing and literary analysis with cultural studies.