Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Modern Foreign Languages

Major Professor

Luis Cano

Committee Members

Dawn Duke, Michael Handelsman, Nuria Cruz-Cámara, Jana Morgan


The dissertation “Reformulando espacios, estereotipos y discursos: Las narrativas femeninas de la violencia en la literatura hispanoamericana contemporánea” analyzes four novels from contemporary Spanish-American literature: Laura Restrepo’s El leopardo al sol (1993), Julia Álvarez’s En el tiempo de las mariposas (1995), Nora Strejilevich’s Una sola muerte numerosa (1997) and Ana Valentina Benjamin’s 7x1: Siete crímenes per cápita (2006). All four novels focus on historical backgrounds marked by violence such as the emergence of the drug cartels in Colombia, the military dictatorship in Dominican Republic during Trujillo’s rule, the Dirty War in Argentina, and a very particular manifestation of urban violence represented in the action of two female serial killers. Based on John Abbink’s idea that, in some historical instances, violence has the effect of a constituent force in social relations, our literary analysis focuses on the way this phenomenon is conveyed as a creative force in the process of deconstructing and reshaping female identity. This dissertation examines how the female characters rework conventional stereotypes (as mothers and wives), spaces (the home), practices (such as the use of silence), and even the role of writing, without breaking radically with social constructs. However, this tradition is destabilized in the novel 7x1: Siete crímenes per cápita, in which, by presenting the aggressive behavior of two characters who respond with physical violence to the suffered aggression, breaks with paradigms and expresses a kind of aesthetic violence that forces the receptor to notice a still brutal presence of this phenomenon in society. Ultimately, this dissertation will demonstrate how this novel invites the feminine narratives of violence in Spanish-America to re-evaluate themselves.

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