Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Comparative Literature (Interdepartmental Program)

Document Type



My dissertation utilizes an interdisciplinary approach to analyze Argentina’s “Dirty War; in it, I argue that our view of the Other is the key to not repeating the past. Literature has long been accepted as a resource for understanding culture; this dissertation moves beyond literature, and includes photography, art, and film to demonstrate how artists have represented and responded to this period of political oppression. Adopting a psychoanalytic approach for my research, I begin with a literary analysis of multiple texts which exhibit features of what Anne Whitehead calls “trauma fiction,” texts in which the narrative voice displays the repetition and fragmentation of memory caused by trauma; I also include the paintings of two artists, whose works have not previously been analyzed, but which fall into this category. I examine two photographic exhibits, using them to reveal how Freud’s theories of mourning and melancholia function. I also use the exhibits to explain the connection between photography and loss, and how photography fits within Lacan’s understanding of the Imaginary, the Symbolic, the Real, and the “gaze.” My investigation of Tununa Mercado’s En estado de memoria is the first to apply the psychoanalytic theory of “phantom trauma” to her text; I argue that the pathologies from which the narrative voice suffers are exacerbated by, but not exclusively the result of trauma experienced as an adult. I conclude with an examination of three films which deal with the long-lasting effects of the “Dirty War” on Argentine society; I propose that it is not enough to narrate the past; the portrayal of the Other should include an element of horror; furthermore, we must acknowledge—and give voice to—those unspoken feelings, and desires, wherein we identify, not only with the victim(s), but also with the aggressor(s) in order to prevent the repetition of the past.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Martins, Laura