Our Nation, Ourselves: Constructions of Subjectivity in Chilean Historical Fiction of the Democratic Transition (1990-2010)

Karr-Cornejo, Katherine Elizabeth Bunting, Department of Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese, University of Virginia
Lagos, Maria-Ines, Department of Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese, University of Virginia

Our Nation, Ourselves: Construction of Subjectivity in Chilean Historical Fiction of the Democratic Transition. Katherine E.B. Karr-Cornejo This dissertation traces representations of selected historical figures of the colonial period in Chile (1540–1818) as they are used by producers of culture during the democratic transition in order to highlight the ways in which the subjectivity of the individual relates to contemporary constructions of national Chilean identity. The first chapter studies Isabel Allende's novel Inés del alma mía (2006) in the light of Inés Suárez's (1507–1580) constructed subjectivity. I argue that Allende's novel engages in a project to recuperate Inés Suárez as a foundational symbolic figure for the modern Chilean nation, illustrated through her association with various markers of stereotypical chilenidad, Chileanness. By systematizing the ways in which Catalina de los Ríos (1604?–1665), Quintrala, has been portrayed in historiography, fiction, and on the television screen, in the second chapter I argue that contemporary historical fiction, particularly Mercedes Valdivieso's Maldita yo entre las mujeres (1991), Virginia Vidal's Oro veneno puñal (2001), Juanita Gallardo's Herencia de fuego (2003), and Gustavo Frías's Tres nombres para Catalina (2001, 2003), posits a demythification and recuperation of the figure that does not go so far as to call into question the structural power of forces for violence. The third chapter focuses on Jorge Edwards's El sueño de la historia (2000), the constructed subjectivities of the historical figures within the novel, and the role of architecture in order to understand the ever-evolving relationships between selfhood, lived-in space, and its design. The final chapter engages with the ideas iv of heroism and the figure of the caudillo in order to argue that contemporary representations of the heroes of Chilean Independence continue to be portrayed as ideal figures in popular culture, represented by two made-for-TV movies (Héroes, 2007) while literary attempts to make thicker the tapestry of knowledge of the era of independence challenge this ideal, as exemplified by Juanita Gallardo's Déjame que te cuente (1997) and Virginia Vidal's Javiera Carrera madre de la patria (2000). Taken as a whole, this project shows that the subjectivities depicted in historical fiction of the democratic transition reflect tensions present in Chilean society as it continues to negotiate collectively the role of the individual and the group within the practices of everyday life.

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PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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