Intimate Geographies: Romance and the Rhetoric of Female Desire in Contemporary Historical Fiction by Caribbean American Women Writers

Doctoral Dissertation


In this dissertation I argue that by focusing on different forms of female desire contemporary Caribbean American women writers reinvent the literary genres of the romance and the historical novel and, in doing so, extend notions of what constitutes US-American literature and history. They create alternative accounts of US-Caribbean political and cultural relations that underscore the connection between women’s desire for intimacy and national belonging on the one hand, and autonomy and independence on the other hand. I analyze the depiction of female desire in three contemporary English-language novels by US authors with origins in the hispano- and francophone Caribbean: Haitian American Edwidge Danticat’s The Farming of Bones (1998), Dominican American Julia Alvarez’s In the Name of Salom (2000), and Cuban American Ana Menndez’s Loving Che (2003). These authors challenge traditional representations of women’s participation in nation building which link the female body to national territory and limit women to being suffering mothers, virgin lovers, or seductive traitors. Instead they privilege the embodied experiences of women based on specific material and historical conditions. This emphasis on the personal, intimate aspect of history foregrounds the implication of women in creating historical discourse and in developing transnational identities in the Americas.


Attribute NameValues
  • etd-07232007-153953

Author Marion Christina Rohrleitner
Advisor Kate Baldwin
Contributor J. Javier Rodriguez, Committee Member
Contributor Kate Baldwin, Committee Co-Chair
Contributor Theresa Delgadillo, Committee Member
Contributor Joseph Buttigieg, Committee Member
Contributor Ivy G. Wilson, Committee Member
Contributor Glenn Hendler, Committee Co-Chair
Degree Level Doctoral Dissertation
Degree Discipline English
Degree Name PhD
Defense Date
  • 2007-07-05

Submission Date 2007-07-23
  • United States of America

  • counterculture of the imagination

  • Cuban revolution

  • Trujillo

  • Sebastien Onius

  • racism

  • Cuba

  • immigration

  • Roosevelt Corollary

  • rememory

  • independence movements

  • Haiti

  • women’s literature

  • Julia Alvarez

  • second generation immigrants

  • Amabelle Desir

  • Che Guevara

  • J. Michael Dash

  • Edwidge Danticat

  • twentieth century

  • In the Name of Salome

  • Cristina Garcia

  • historical fiction

  • US-foreign policy

  • Loving Che

  • postmemory

  • Latina literature

  • The Farming of Bones

  • Ana Menendez

  • Dominican Republic

  • massacre

  • Camila Henriquez

  • Americas

  • whiteness

  • Caribbean American literature

  • Jose Marti

  • romance

  • transnationalism

  • Salome Urena de Henriquez

  • University of Notre Dame

  • English

Record Visibility Public
Content License
  • All rights reserved

Departments and Units


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