Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Languages and Cultures

First Advisor

Patricia Hart

Committee Chair

Patricia Hart

Committee Member 1

Paul B. Dixon

Committee Member 2

Howard Mancing

Committee Member 3

Inigo Sanchez-Llama



The purpose of this study is to utilize certain aspects of cognitive psychology as a framework to analyze the police procedural novels of two Spanish authors: Francisco García Pavón and Lorenzo Silva. Specifically, we will focus on two main aspects of the mind studied by the cognitive sciences: Theory of Mind and metarepresentations. Theory of Mind (ToM) refers to the capacity that human beings have to attribute mental states to other humans, as well as oneself, based on their bodily and facial gestures. The concept of metarepresentation refers to the ability of humans to keep track of who said what. In other words, it refers to the capacity to remember and to recognize a representation’s original source of information. The main thesis of this study is to demonstrate that the need to engage one’s Theory of Mind and metarepresentational abilities increases in direct relation to the complexity of society. Moreover, this idea is also applicable to the works of the aforementioned authors. Consequently, the more complex the society, the greater the need for the police investigator to engage his cognitive abilities. This investigation will show that the work of Lorenzo Silva, which is the work whose narrative action is set in a more complex society, contains the greatest number of instances and characters rich in ToM. Generally, Silva’s narrative action takes place in urban areas or in places diverse in ethnicities, nationalities, and ideologies. Thus, the protagonist of Silva’s work, Rubén Bevilacqua, in the midst of his investigations, is forced to interact with characters from different cultures, in rapidly changing urban centers, and with beliefs or ideologies different from his own. In addition, Bevilacqua shows a great deal of competency in regards to the idiosyncrasies that arise from the changing role of women in society and specifically, in an institution as patriarchal as the Guardia Civil. Therefore, we will seize the opportunity to explore how stereotypes and gender roles are presented by both authors during the tardofranquismo and in the present day. In contrast to Lorenzo Silva’s narrative, García Pavón’s work takes place in a more static social context, during the last decade of Franco’s regime in the rural world of La Mancha. As a direct consequence of the country’s sociopolitical repression of its citizens and international isolationism during the dictatorship, there exists in the nation a homogeneity of ideas, beliefs, and ethnicities. Some aspects of this society, shown in the novel, seem fossilized, having remained unchanged in time. This is especially true in relation to women’s rights and roles. The need to use ToM with women in this social context is lacking for three reasons: first, women’s minds are considered to be inferior to that of men, which means that reading a woman’s mind does not constitute a challenge; second, since women were confined to the private sphere during the dictatorship, the situations and interactions in which reading a mind could be important were limited; and third, as happens in fiction, misinterpreting the mind of women in a patriarchal society fails to carry grave consequences for the men, since women would always be held responsible and guilty of any misinterpretation. Therefore, this type of society does not require that the investigator, Plinio, use his cognitive abilities to their full potential to succeed in his investigations. This cognitive approach to literature seems very appropriate since one of the characteristics of the police procedural genre entails the investigator’s capacity, aptitude, and need to read the suspects’ minds as accurately as possible. In other words, the investigator must be able to put himself or herself in the criminal’s mindset, to adopt his point of view. Likewise, if the role of the police procedural reader is to suspect every character, then the role of the writer is to adopt the reader’s perspective and to ensure that the reader suspects the greatest number of characters for as long as possible. This circumstance makes the police procedural an ideal environment in which the ToM can be engaged by the minds of the writer, the reader, and the characters. These characteristics of the genre, that demand the use of the reader’s ToM, are precisely the reasons why we consider the cognitive sciences to be the ideal framework in which to analyze the police procedural works of our two authors. Each author, in his on way and during his own historical time, began a new chapter in the Spanish police procedural. Lastly, our intention with this study is to use an interdisciplinary approach to literature by bringing together the humanities and the cognitive sciences.