Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Susan Mooney, Ph.D.

Committee Member

John Lennon, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Quynh Nhu Le, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Stanley Gontarski, Ph.D.


African American Literature, Postcolonialism, Drama, Land Ownership, Myth


Land ownership dispossession is a key feature in establishing imperial hegemonies. In the colonial context, limiting access to land concentrates wealth, power, and influence in the hands of a small colonial or neocolonial elite, excluding others from financial independence, accumulation of generational wealth, political representation, and a stable living situation. British imperial activities spanned multiple continents, engaging similar patterns of dispossessing the native population from their land, language, and cultures. In this endeavor, culture and literature in particular, as Edward Said points out in Culture and Imperialism, have been complicit in inculcating imperial ideologies and justifying territorial occupation. As Said states, “the main battle in imperialism is over land, of course; but when it came to who owned the land, who had the right to settle and work on it, who kept it going, who won it back, and now plans its future – these issues were reflected, contested, and even for a time decided in narrative” (23). Certain twentieth century British and American writers, especially modernist and late modernist authors, use mythology to subvert the relationship between imperial hegemony and literature and re-imagine the societal beliefs, artistic justifications, and historical assumptions that provided a foundation for colonial ideologies. The authors in this study represent a transatlantic, multi-ethnic literary engagement with the ongoing consequences of British colonialism as related land ownership dispossession in both the Irish and American contexts. The Irish texts include several Northern Irish works: Brian Friel’s Translations (1980), Marina Carr’s By the Bog of Cats (1990), W.B. Yeats and Lady Augusta Gregory’s Kathleen ni Houlihan (1902), and Sean O’Casey’s Juno and the Paycock (1924). The American texts include Irish-American author Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey into Night (1956) and A Moon for the Misbegotten (1947) and African-American author Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun (1959). The authors reveal the complicity of imperialist land ownership dispossession with imposed patriarchy, capitalist reformation of native economies, materialist attitudes towards labor and possession, and cultural domination of how native people relate to their natural surroundings. My project incorporates postcolonial and feminist analysis, myth theories, archival comparisons, and performance studies in its exploration of land ownership dispossession, imperial hegemonies, and mythologies.