Emma Thompson

Graduation Year


Date of Thesis Acceptance

Spring 5-11-2016

Major Department or Program



Lauren Osborne


The Nation of Islam, under the leadership of Elijah Muhammad, published a weekly newspaper called Muhammad Speaks between 1960 and 1975. Applying theoretical concepts of counternarratives and myth from Hilde Lindemann Nelson and Wendy Doniger, I argue that the cosmology presented in Muhammad Speaks functions as a multifaceted counternarrative that responds differently to a white master narrative and an orthodox Muslim master narrative. Furthermore, I argue that because the cosmology is a mythic narrative, writers in Muhammad Speaks build authority for the NOI by shifting between lenses, which results in the creation of an identity that is not simply responsive to the master narratives but that is able to stand independently as a constructive identity. By melding Nelson’s theory of counternarratives with Doniger’s theory of myth, I explore the relationship between religion and politics and propose that the two are intertwined.

Page Count


Subject Headings

Elijah Muhammad, Hilde Lindemann, Wendy Doniger, Religion and politics -- Islamic countries, Sunnites -- Orthodox Islam -- Orthodox Muslim, Identity (Psychology) -- Religious aspects -- Islam, Newspaper publishing -- Muhammad Speaks, Muslims -- Ethnic identity, Whitman College -- Dissertation collection 2016 -- Religion Department

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Public Accessible Thesis

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