Date of Award

Winter 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Languages and Cultures

First Advisor

Marcia Stephenson

Committee Chair

Marcia Stephenson

Committee Member 1

Howard Mancing

Committee Member 2

Paul Dixon

Committee Member 3

Song No


This dissertation analyzes six novels by Chilean writers: Marta Brunet's:Humo hacia el sur (1946) and Maria Nadie (1957); Mercedes Valdivieso's La brecha (1961) and La tierra que les di (1963), and Maria Elena Gertner'sIslas en la ciudad (1958) and La Derrota (1964). This study explores the articulations of gender, race, class relations, and identity representation in mid-20th -century Chilean literature. I argue that a number of female writers in mid-twentieth century Chile played an important role in the construction of a national identity as they examined traditional social practices and models, and provided new grounds to portray diverse groups and their relations. My project considers the articulations of female and minority identity and culture and this is guided by a post colonialist awareness of the relationship between performance, certain forms of power, approaches to knowledge, and subject-formation. Through this approached I analyze the identity-formation frictions that arise among social groups from the point of view of their place in society. ^ In my research I study how the philosophy of ideas serves as a mechanism of cultural hegemony to signify and determine certain social traits in individuals. I explore the question of how role-performativity influences the space for female and indigenous identities as under-represented subjects in the literature of this period. My dissertation analyzes the specific historical factors that have influenced these roles, beginning with the nineteenth century and continuing through the mid-twentieth century. In my research I intend to show that these works play a key role in the discussion of traditional models as they confront the phenomenon of social mobility through performance, and also reveal topics of gender and of racial minorities that had been gaining relevance and validity in the literary Chilean scene. ^ My research has revealed that the patriarchal order is reinforced and protected by both sexes as a way to keep traditional values and practices that have been present since the establishment of the new republic. In the works studied, the patriarchal order is not simply an image but encapsulates an ideology sustained by male characters and some female characters that follow its precepts and restrain others trying to subvert the system. These works portray the existing female ambivalence when they are confronted to each other to overcome any threat the other may represent. This study has also revealed that these writers use the concept of performance to manipulate certain codes and hegemonic practices ingrained in Chile's collective consciousness in order to dissipate social differences present in its populations and social groups. Mid-20th century literature provides important examples of growing social awareness among the country's working and privileged classes studied in this project.