Year of Publication

2012

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

College

Arts and Sciences

Department

Hispanic Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Susan E. Carvalho

Abstract

The Spanish expression haciendo memoria is almost always translated as "remembering." I chose the literal translation "making memory" because it more adequately describes the task of mourning that takes place when dealing with trauma. Psychology tells us that when a traumatic event occurs, only a non-narrative imprint of an event is recorded--seared--in the mind, and the narrative form must be created. Only then can it be mentally manipulated and even communicated and --in both a literal and literary sense-- made history.

The trauma explored in this study is centered on the dirty war in Argentina of the 1970’s and 1980’s. This period is usually framed as the excessively brutal and violent extermination of armed rebels by the last Argentine military dictatorship (March 1976-December 1983). But this emplotment of history does not adequately explain the origins or the severity of the violence. In part, it is this narrative deficit which keeps the trauma fresh in the Argentine collective consciousness. There is an overwhelming wealth of information about this period; yet the traditional models for framing history do not seem to suit the data nor do they fully capture the ethos. They are like loose characters and events searching for a story in which to belong or a narrative to call home. Part of the mourning process is the creation of emplotments and narrative structures which can make sense –make memory—of the dirty war.

This dissertation focuses on the early narrative of Martín Caparrόs, one of the narrative voices ‘making memory’ of this time period. In my dissertation I will explore his first three novels against the backdrop of Michael Rothberg’s study “Traumatic Realism”, which identifies three dimensions of the representation of traumatic history: a demand for documentation, a demand for reflection on the limits of representation, and a demand for engagement with the public sphere. I will disentangle Caparrόs’ complex narrative techniques in order to uncover his early struggle with these three demands, as he attempts to create his own constellation of meaning.

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