University of Notre Dame
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A New Space for Aesthetics: Contemporary Literature and Filmic Representations of Alterity Within the Southern Cone

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posted on 2013-12-08, 00:00 authored by David I Gregory-Negron

The effects of the Cold War in Latin America resulted in a series of violent dictatorships that transformed Marxism into a transnational threat to erase all dissidence. Following the model imposed by Augusto Pinochet in Chile, the Southern Cone witnessed the reshaping of its respective nations: from the political engagement of the sixties and seventies to neoliberal countries shaped by fear. The results of the military policies were thousands of murders, disappearances, and tortures, along with various economical crises. As a result, the victims of these policies started to resist the oppression of their illegitimate governments. They opposed a homogenous political program that excluded any alternative form of political discourse.

Focusing on the contemporary corpus of literature and films of the last fifteen years, this study analyze the use of aesthetics in both Chile and Argentina as an additional expression of critique to the national homogenous definitions proposed since the time of the dictatorships. These films and novels propose a new body of/for the collective national imaginary. I suggest that they open a new space for aesthetics, a new form of interaction with the politics imposed in the public space. In Chapter One the terms, theoretical frame and historical context that guide the dissertation are introduced. Chapter Two analyzes the contemporary literature of Chile as a response to the dictatorship and its effects, focusing on both writers that endured the regime and those who left. Chapter Three takes these considerations in terms of film language and how we can understand the collective identity of Chile. Chapter Four focuses on Argentina and how identity is build from memory and the language that forms that memory. Chapter Five explores a varied sample of the 'New Argentine Cinema' and how they build a visual language that interacts with both the national and global context. The Conclusion explores the implications of film and literature in a world used to media while opening the door for further investigations how contemporary literature and film are used in similar conditions though different national specificities, specifically in Spain.


Date Modified


Defense Date


Research Director(s)

Dr. Maria Rosa Olivera-Williams

Committee Members

Dr. Jim Collins Dr. Joseph Buttigieg Dr. Samuel Amago


  • Doctor of Philosophy

Degree Level

  • Doctoral Dissertation


  • English

Alternate Identifier



University of Notre Dame

Program Name

  • Literature

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