Going (In) Sane: Deconstructing Madness in Contemporary Argentine Narrative

Rojas, Eunice Anne, Department of Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese, University of Virginia
Pellón, Gustavo, Department of Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese, University of Virginia
Lagos, María Inés Lagos, Department of Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese, University of Virginia

Generally accepted as preferable to insanity, sanity is, in Foucault's History of Madness, stripped of its hierarchical primacy as madness' suppression by sanity is revealed to be nothing more than a construct of the Classical Age. This dissertation focuses on a similar challenge to the superiority of madness over reason in the novels and short stories of four Argentine authors writing in the late 20 th and early 21 st century. In particular I have examined Julio Cortázar's Rayuela and 62: un modelo para armar, as well as a number of his short stories, Juan José Saer's Las nubes and La pesquisa, Luisa Valenzuela's La travesía, and Ricardo Piglia's La ciudad ausente. I situate these works within the deconstructivist framework provided by Michel Foucault's History of Madness, and analyze the ways in which the superiority of reason to madness is called into question in light of the challenges posed by postmodern Argentine society. The works of the authors I have studied reflect a wave of glorification of the irrational as a consequence of a growing distrust of rationalism, and often use the concept of madness as a metaphorical representation of irrationality and resistance against supposedly rational forces of violence and repression. The four authors studied here seek to dislodge reason, sanity and rationality from their pedestal by proposing madness as a metaphor for the often artistic efforts of resistance against the violent and repressive consequences of an overreliance on Cartesian rationality.

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PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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