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Doctoral Defense
Event Type: Abstract: Abstract/Summary:
This thesis looks at the representation of national and transnational spaces in contemporary Latin American literature. In doing so, it argues that contemporary writing expands both the geographical imaginary of the physical spaces of the state and more significantly, frequently alters the conceptual envisioning of nation through unsettling its conventionally understood links to history, language, and identity. I develop the notion of literary transnationalism as an emerging aesthetic, defined by its handling of space, time and social cohesion. I argue that the region’s contemporary literature moves away from the clean parameters of nation and into bi-national, multi-national, de-national, post-national, extra-national, and virtual domains. This framework includes: 1) migration-related texts 2) multi-territorial texts that traverse many geographies 3) nationally ambiguous or undefined texts, including Marc Augé’s non-places 4) and texts imbedded in extra-national and virtual realms. I define space as a finite system of representation with imagined limits, be they geographical, national, linguistic or digital. 

In order to study the spatial aesthetics of transnationalism, I begin by looking at three migration-themed texts from Brazil in my first chapter, Luiz Ruffato’s Estive em Lisboa e lembrei de você (2009), Wilson Bueno’s Mar Paraguayo (1992), and Oscar Nadasato’s Nihonjin (2011). Specifically I argue that contemporary migration-themed novels disrupt narrative time-space cohesion by obscuring the frontiers between the national and the transnational. In the following chapter, I study the interplay among speed, mobility and power in Roberto Bolaño’s 2666 and its theatrical adaptation by Spanish director Àlex Rigola. Seeing the two works in dialogue, I focus on the place of stasis and non-mobility as a counterpoint to speed and their implications for transnationalism. In the third chapter, I turn to Bernardo Carvalho’s Teatro (1998) and Gilberto Noll’s Harmada (1993), exploring the contrast between spatial ambiguity, and ruins and decaying spaces. I propose that ruin acts as an affront to the flattening processes of globalization in the two novels. To conclude, I examine two collections of literary blogs in Spanish and Portuguese, the Brazilian publishing house, Companhia das Letras’ Amores Expressos blogs, as well as Elboomeran(g) a vast literary blog in Spanish. Employing both close and distant readings, I show how online literary writing elucidates the poetics and spatial fluidity vital to contemporary transnationalism.

Date and Time: Wednesday, April 15, 2015 at 9:00am to 1:00pm

Location: ICC 450