Date of Degree

9-2016

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Hispanic & Luso-Brazilian Literatures & Languages

Advisor(s)

Oswaldo Zavala

Committee Members

Magdalena Perkowska

José del Valle

Subject Categories

Latin American Languages and Societies | Modern Literature

Keywords

Latin American Literature, Testimonio, Ficcion

Abstract

In the last twenty years, the writing of testimonial literature in Latin America has gradually declined due in part, because civil war struggles in Central and South America have ceased and the misrepresentation of facts in testimonial narratives have discouraged readers and critics from studying testimonial literature with the same enthusiasm as previously done. Another contributing factor is the question of authorship of these narratives because of problematic issues in identifying whether or not the informant or the transcriber authored the work. Furthermore, scholars realize that at times the transcriber interrelate fact and fiction to the extent of creating a reciprocal effect on each other. Critics argue that the intent of testimonial literature is to give a voice to the voiceless and to denounce the injustices committed against marginalized societies in Latin American countries and not to create literary fiction.

In this study, I argue that in the midst of all the skepticism and controversy surrounding the genre, many contemporary Latin American writers use fiction to rewrite testimonial novels. This investigation demonstrates how fiction is put into use to rewrite and reconfigure testimonial narratives in Latin America into a new genre that termed “la nueva novela testimonial” or “the new testimonial novel.” The purpose of this new literary form is to eliminate conflicts created by the traditional testimonial literary genre.

I demonstrate that “la nueva novela testimonial” can be defined through five important characteristics: first, that the survival of testimonial literature is crucial. Second, fiction diminishes the role of politics. Third, fiction revalues the concept of solidarity where readers are more compelled to empathize and show solidarity with the characters and more willing to effect change in society. Fourth, the fictional narrative voice becomes more personalized. Fifth, “la nueva novela testimonial” is in constant evolution. This project discusses the future of fictional testimonial narratives that are examples of “la nueva novela testimonial” and how fiction will pave the way for this new modality to progress with the hopes of giving the genre a more positive stance in the literary field.

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