Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Memory and Resistance: Representations of Subjectivity in the Contemporary Latin American Novel
by Verduzco, Raul Carlos, Ph.D., Yale University, 2010, 442; 3440632
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation examines diverse approaches to subjectivity and to the construction of personal identities based on mechanisms of resistance to hegemonic and institutionalized discourses of power, as seen in works of Moacyr Scliar (Brazil), Daniel Leyva (Mexico), and Héctor Abad Faciolince (Colombia).

These writers' interest in the exploration of subjectivity seems to arise from a discontent with the official interpretations of collective history and with socially predetermined identities. Through a reinterpretation of the personal and collective histories that influence self-figuration, these novels attempt to resignify the symbols that constitute the subject in order for the protagonists to understand themselves and rejoin their societies as renewed, self-aware individuals.

The first chapter explores theoretical approaches to subjectivity and memory as tools to develop formal and discursive resistance strategies to be used in self-representation. Mainly, I discuss the perspectives of Terry Eagleton, Paul Smith, and Kim L. Worthington regarding the role of the subject in literature and social relations. As for Memory, I make use of Henri Bergson and Marcel Proust's perspectives, in the light of Edward Casey's theory of "activist" and "passivist" memory. Additionally, I analyze different literary devices as potential forms of resistance to be found in the novels discussed.

The second chapter is a study of the novel Cenas da vida minuscula , in which the Brazilian writer Moacyr Scliar explores Jewish mysticism and extrapolates it to the Jewish-Brazilian reality in order for the protagonist to self-fashion his social, cultural, and religious identity. The third chapter is devoted to Una piñata llena de memoria, in which Mexican writer Daniel Leyva exposes the uses and abuses of memory, and proposes poetic language as the only plausible element to determine identity.

The fourth chapter explores literature as a form of memory in Hector Abad Faciolince's Asuntos de un hidalgo disoluto. In this novel, 72 year-old Gaspar Medina dictates his memoirs, echoing different literary traditions of self-writing and exposing the paradox of representing a dynamic subject using a fixed artifact such as language.

Using memory as resistance to time and social practices, formal experimentation as resistance to mainstream realism, humor and historiographic revision as resistance to social and historical discourse, and poetic language as resistance to fixed meaning, these writers redefine the subject's identity by the reinterpretation of religion (Scliar), history (Leyva), and literature (Abad Faciolince). My aim is to show that through the processes of resignification allowed by poetic language these texts propose an alternative view of the role of the subject in society.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Perez, Anibal Gonzalez
School: Yale University
School Location: United States -- Connecticut
Source: DAI-A 72/02, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Latin American literature
Keywords: Abad Faciolince, Hector Joaquin, Brazil, Colombia, Leyva, Daniel, Memory, Mexico, Scliar, Moacyr, Subjectivity
Publication Number: 3440632
ISBN: 978-1-124-42149-0
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