Modes of reproduction: Gender, subjectivity, and familial relations in Southern Cone literature since 1950
Kuberka, Beth Anne
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This dissertation approaches Southern Cone literature since the mid-twentieth century through the lens of various "modes of reproduction," linking ideological reproduction of state power structures with biological reproduction, as represented through literary images of women and children. Southern Cone history of this time period is marked by authoritarian governments and their aftermaths--from Juan Perón's first presidency in Argentina in the 1940s through 1950s, to the region's military dictatorships in the 1970s and 1980s. The image of women as mothers who produce the future citizens of the nation, and the importance of properly molding children to embody that future were two key concepts used to promote visions of national identity under these regimes, as well as to champion neoliberalism following them. This dissertation project examines how gender and familial roles are used in literature to interrogate such national identities promoted through violent state force. Chapter One offers a close reading of Julio Cortázar's 1956 short story "Final del juego." I propose that the reproduction of gendered power relations in Cortázar's story reflects a culture of gendered public spectacle in Juan and Evita Perón's Argentina, a product of the ever closer proximity of the public and private spheres under Peronism. Chapter Two examines the relationship between children and modernization, questioning what kind of national subject formation results in childhood when a nation's process of modernization legitimizes state violence and torture. In Cristina Peri Rossi's "En la playa," César Aira's Cómo me hice monja , and Alejandro Zambra's Formas de volver a casa , the national subjects that emerge under such conditions do so in terms of various iterations of exile. Finally, Chapter Three focuses on literature from post-dictatorship Chile: Diamela Eltit's "Colonizadas" and El cuarto mundo , and Alberto Fuguet's Mala onda . I argue that these authors' use of images of the family, women, and the neoliberal market--images used in political rhetoric to highlight Chile's healing process--instead reopen and expose the nation's still bleeding wounds.