Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Romance Studies
Silence has been studied throughout history both in Western and Eastern Philosophy. Since Plato and Buddha, silence has been identified as an essential requirement to understand the world by contemplative observation and silent listening. In the twentieth century, feminist theory began to pay attention to the use of silence in various literary discourses in order to unravel the dynamics of sexual repression over women. These studies were later applied to other kinds of oppression suffered by marginalized groups in a given society. Taking into account various theoretical postulates in regards to feminism, postfeminism, and postmodernism, particularly the works of Toril Moi, Rita Felski, and Linda Hutcheon, this dissertation discusses the concept of silence and examines its rhetorical and political value in Contemporary Spanish and Mexican literature, published between 1990 and 2012. The first chapter examines ongoing theoretical challenges to interpret narrative silences and inserts this study in the mainstream of literary criticism. Chapter two analyzes the relevance of subversive silence under cultural and political oppression in relation to the construction of a national identity in Cristina Rivera Garza’s Nadie me verá llorar (1999), and in Dulce Chacón’s La voz dormida (2002). Chapter three focuses on the principles of Susan Sontag, Hayden White, and Walter Benjamin about the development of our ideological readings on history and art based on silent communication between the audience and the literary work in Carmen Boullosa’s El velázquez de París (2007), and Paloma Díaz-Mas’s El sueño de Venecia (1992). Chapter four reexamines the feminist theories by focusing on male and female silence, from the mature perspective depicted in Ángeles Mastretta’s La emoción de las cosas (2012), and Soledad Puértolas’s Mi amor en vano (2012).