Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Losambe, Lokangaka


Abstract Calling on both theoretical and critical womanist texts and the recent fiction of Jhumpa Lahiri -- her two recent works explored are her novel The Namesake and short story and novella collection Unaccustomed Earth -- this thesis seeks to show how Lahiri both exemplifies and proposes a redefinition of womanism in her work. Lahiri best exemplifies the family-centeredness of Africana womanism, the most thoroughly articulated theory of womanism to date, in her narratives of Bengali- American families, whose members well describe both physical and cultural maternity, a great tenet of womanism as defined by womanism scholars Chikwenye Okonjo Ogunyemi and Clenora Hudson-Weems. However, in questioning both Hudson-Weems and Layli Phillips’ notions of womanism that can be customizable for any culture, I propose a revision and thorough articulation of “Indian” or “Bengali” womanism as explored by Lahiri, adding characteristics such as intergenerational exchange. These articulations lead to greater questions (too large to explore in this thesis) of womanism and of “Indian womanism” which have yet to be explored, but which Lahiri introduces and complicates.