Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

Lisa Weihman

Committee Co-Chair

Dennis Allen

Committee Member

Gwen Bergner

Committee Member

Marilyn Francus

Committee Member

Keya Ganguly


The world system, core-periphery, and combined and uneven development---all concepts originating in sociology and economic history have enjoyed a fresh resurgence in literary studies (Moretti 2001, Casanova 2007, Deckard et al 2015). This dissertation studies the novel as a "global form," and explores its conceptual engagement with, as well its inflection by, the changing core-periphery relationship in a globalizing world. I focus on five Irish and Indian women novelists, Elizabeth Bowen, Molly Keane, Jennifer Johnston, Mahasweta Devi and Kiran Desai. Arguably, India and Ireland occupy anomalous and analogous positions in the literary world-system. As a growing cultural-economic power, India is often considered, unfairly according to some critics, to be the representative example of the postcolonial world; such a characterization often obscures the particular and diverse histories of countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. On the other hand, despite being a part of Great Britain and Europe, Ireland is often situated, controversially, as a postcolony within the "West," on account of its long colonial occupation by the English. By employing a comparative, world-systemic approach between Indian and Irish fiction, I seek to destabilize the West/non-West binary and instead emphasize the shifting relationships between the core and the peripheries shaped by non-monolithic, distinct kinds of colonialism. Fiction plays a significant part in registering as well as shaping the experience of uneven, postcolonial and peripheral modernity. Specifically, I argue in my dissertation that women's "domestic" fiction, far from being an apolitical, "private" corpus as they are often carelessly labeled, plays a significant role in the literary articulation of postcolonial and peripheral unevenness. The focus on the family in these fictional texts serves to illuminate the interplay between and imbrication of the domestic, the familial and the private with the (gendered) national and the transnational. The authors in this dissertation deserve attention, especially, because through such "domestic" and "private" topics as marriage, coming-of-age, sibling relationships and family history, they are able to uniquely elucidate the lived experience of peripheral modernity. Each of the chapters offers a reading of some aspect of the domestic, the familial and the private realms; these women novelists provide a global, and not simply metropolitan, account of domestic fiction, not only in terms of content, but also through formal innovations in their chosen genres of fiction.