Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Arts and Sciences


Hispanic Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Ana Rueda


This dissertation analyzes fantastic short fiction in terms of its relationship to the traditionalist and progressive forces that were vying for hegemonic control over Spanish national identity in the ever-changing period of the nineteenth century, demonstrating how these powers shaped Spain’s past and future national character to suit ideologically driven narratives and revealing how fantastic literature can disrupt these narratives to unlock new patterns of thought. In Chapter 1, entitled “Fantastic Short Fiction and National Identity,” I delineate the historical/political circumstances that led to the rise of Spain’s dominant ideological frameworks. I also establish my own definition of the fantastic which, though indebted to the work of other theorists of the fantastic (principally Sigmund Freud, Tzvetan Todorov, and David Roas), places more emphasis on this literary mode in its specific role as a tool to break down the universal categories with which one classifies experience. In Chapter 2, entitled “Spiritual Dissection: Tradition, Progress, and the Role of the Church in the Spanish Fantastic,” I examine stories—by celebrated authors like Bécquer and Pardo Bazán as well as unstudied authors such as Pedro Escamilla—which, though intriguing in their own right, fall short of creating a fruitful debate surrounding the meaning of Spanishness due to their overt traditionalist or progressive biases. Chapter 3, entitled “The Smile of Ángeles: The Ambiguous Artifact and the True Measure of the Fantastic,” on the other hand, highlights more realist short stories of the fantastic—penned by Alarcón, Becerro de Bengoa, Bécquer, Blasco Ibáñez, Escamilla, Estébanez Calderón, Fernández Bremón, Gómez de Avellaneda, Pardo Bazán, Serrano Alcázar, and Luis Valera—which represent the true measure of the fantastic in its capacity to break down ideological barriers, inviting the reader to forge new paths of understanding and imagine new visions of Spanish identity. Through my close readings of these fantastic short stories, my dissertation illuminates the privileged position of the fantastic in questioning essentializing narratives as well as calling attention to various authors and texts that perform this critical role.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Funding Information

This study received the Dean's Competitive Fellowship from the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Kentucky, which was awarded in fall of 2021.

Available for download on Tuesday, May 21, 2024