Date of Graduation
Eberly College of Arts and Sciences
Theorists of place acknowledge human need for attachment to place, but this bond is often stated as a given, without an explication of its origin or attributes. Implementing the concept of place-connectedness formulated by Lawrence Buell, I analyze the process of bonding with new places described in immigrant life writing, focusing on twentieth-century texts by authors from Russia, the Soviet Union, and Communist bloc countries. Examining the sources through which American imagery was available to East Europeans during the 1900s, I confirm a link between the concepts of the American Dream and of place-connectedness and contend that for immigrants, establishing an attachment to a new place is a process that begins before emigration. The initial stages of this process are imaginative---learning and dreaming about America, visualizing it as an ideal place. These idealized pre-existing images of America mediate immigrants' encounter with the new country and influence their connection to American places.;The American Dream imposes a binary structure on immigration narratives, compelling the authors to contrast the old and the new worlds, the old and the new places. Texts examined in this project demonstrate that the process of claiming a new place as one's own is rife with ambiguities and setbacks. Only by negotiating the rift between the dream and the perceived America can an immigrant adjust to and begin to feel at home in the new place. At the same time, the bond to the home country can never be severed, so that the rejected place, no matter how deficient it might have seemed before emigration, acquires a constituent power in immigrant place-connectedness, serving as a reference point for comparisons and valuations. As transnational individuals, immigrant authors maintain attachment to multiple places--- physical, imagined, and remembered.
Rodimtseva, Irina V., "In Search of a Dream America: Place-connectedness in East European Immigrant Life Writing" (2012). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 4913.