Honors College

Document Type

Honors Thesis


English, Journalism


Margo Lukens, Mimi Killinger

Committee Members

James Brophy, Richard Brucher, Gregory Howard

Graduation Year

May 2021

Publication Date

Spring 5-2021


This thesis explores depictions of Black lives in America through consideration of journalism, along with novels and plays by 20th-and 21st-century African American writers. It looks, in particular, at Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s 2013 novel Americanah and her famous TED Talk, “The Danger of a Single Story.” In the latter, she warns against telling a single story about Africans, one that often involves pain, trauma, and poverty; Adichie’s warning is also especially relevant to a critique of stereotypical conceptualizations of African American suffering. Americanah provides a new Black narrative and a new definition of Blackness, one that tells a story focused on romantic love (Black joy) more than the single story of pain or trauma (Black suffering). This thesis will demonstrate how Adichie’s novel challenges the reader to recognize that single stories of Black suffering render too narrowly the fullness of Black human experience.