My dissertation investigates why gestures of generosity, so prevalent in Irish and South African literature from 1974 to 2010, repeatedly fail to generate the cross-cultural understanding and social cohesion that is necessary for community formation. Generosity is an ethical and political matter that illuminates broader sociopolitical concerns about who can claim to belong to a community, whether in terms of race, gender, or nationality. I use generosity as vehicle for exploring how post-colonial communities understand and respond to difference, and look to literature for alternative imagined forms of community where belonging isn’t dictated by such criteria as race or nationality.
The transnational framework of my research seeks to explore new possibilities of how we conceive of community, and pushes against definitions of it as a homogeneous and tightly bounded entity in favor of a more inclusive, interconnected global community. Some of the writers that I work with include the Irish artists James Joyce, Edna O’Brien, and (filmaker) Pat Murphy. and the South African authors J.M. Coetzee, Nadine Gordimer, and K. Sello Duiker.