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Title page for ETD etd-12012013-225252

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Brown, Laura Cade
URN etd-12012013-225252
Title Stating the Self: Contemporary Latin American Autobiography and Authoritarianism
Degree PhD
Department Spanish
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
William Luis, Ph.D. Committee Chair
Benigno Trigo, Ph.D. Committee Member
Earl E. Fitz, Ph.D. Committee Member
José M. Medina, Ph.D. Committee Member
  • Latin American autobiography
  • self-writing
  • authoritarianism
  • Reinaldo Arenas
  • Clarice Lispector
  • Diamela Eltit
Date of Defense 2013-09-24
Availability unrestricted
Due to the cultural and political influences of the Cuban Revolution, the Boom literary movement, and poststructuralism, autobiography has received little attention in Latin American literature. This dissertation argues that self-writing has followed a distinct trajectory in Latin America, evolving away from traditional understandings of the genre towards a more complicated relationship between the self and the state. Furthermore, the discursive practices of surveyance, surveillance, and torture that characterize authoritarian governments have impacted the autobiographical form as we know it, resulting in metafictional, hypersexual, and linguistically chaotic texts. “Stating the Self” takes as case studies self-writings by Reinaldo Arenas (Cuba, 1943-1990), Clarice Lispector (Brazil, 1920-1977), and Diamela Eltit (Chile, 1949-), redefining, with the help of poststructuralist and postmodern theories, self-writing in the Latin American context. In the face of authoritarianism, these authors exhibit a struggle over subjectivity and linguistic sovereignty, as well as crisis of representation stemming from trauma, repression, and censorship. These theoretically innovative approaches to self-writing can ultimately be read as speech acts, that is, verbal assertions of the self in the wake of state repression.
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