Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Mary Ann Caws

Subject Categories

English Language and Literature | History of Art, Architecture, and Archaeology | Latin American Languages and Societies | Latin American Studies


Aesthetics, Cuba, France, Painting, Poetry, Visual Culture


This dissertation employs an interdisciplinary approach to trace the history of exchange and influence between Cuban, French, and Francophone Caribbean artists in the twentieth century. I argue, first, that there is a unique and largely unexplored tradition of dialogue, collaboration, and mutual admiration between Cuban, French and Francophone artists; second, that a recurring and essential theme in these artworks is the representation of the human body; and third, that this relationship ought not to be understood within the confines of a single genre, but must be read as a series of dialogues that are both ekphrastic (that is, they rely on one art-form to describe another, as in paintings of poems), and multi-lingual. Finally, I contend that these translational relationships must be examined within the greater context of twentieth-century modernisms, particularly Surrealism. I apply critical, theoretical and philosophical frameworks articulated by Edouard Glissant, Antonio Benitez Rojo, and Maurice Merleau-Ponty to four case studies of inter-genre, inter-national, multilingual dialogues unfolding over the course of the century to reveal dynamic figurations of bodies that are at once visual, poetic and performative.