Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Comparative Literature (Interdepartmental Program)

Document Type



In La Communauté desoeuvrée (1983) French philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy describes how a community is creating by bringing its members together under a collective identity. The invention of myths, such as the myth of racial superiority and the mythic revolutionary community, functions to sustain the hegemonic dominance wielded in Haiti by the United States and later by François Duvalier, the Porfiriato and its aftermath in Mexico, and white society in the United States Deep South. These myths often engender policies founded in the inhospitable treatment of those who are deemed lesser or ‘other’. Nancy’s conception of being singular plural posits that our exposure to the other remedies the mythic community, because such a configuration requires the perpetual exposure of the self to others, which maintains the fluidity of interpersonal relations and in turn keeps the community future-oriented. Jacques Derrida’s De la grammatologie (1967), Force de loi (1990), and Politiques de l’amitié (1994) offer a reconceptualization of the political implications of subjectivity, community, and responsibility allows us to identify individual behaviors that can foster the development of a democracy “to come” and which also align with Nancy’s re-inscription of community. This project examines how the mythic community is portrayed in René Depestre’s Le Mât de cocagne and Un arc-en-ciel pour l’Occident chrétien, Mariano Azuela’s Los de abajo, Carlos Fuentes’s La región más transparente del aire and Gringo viejo, and Ernest Gaines’s A Gathering of Old Men and A Lesson Before Dying. The authors’ representations of racial disharmony, marginalization, and violence function as a critique of colonialism, the mythic multicultural American community, and of “imperialist capitalist hegemonic patriarchy” to paraphrase bell hooks’s term. This project explores how the reverence for certain myths is linked to a rigid conception of hegemonic masculinity in which manhood is synonymous with domination. Thus, it is necessary to identify the conditions that marginalized men cultivate to achieve masculine subjectivity, and how patriarchal hegemonic masculinity may be challenged by new formulations of masculinities, which may allow such marginalized men to resist totalitarian powers and foster the sort of communal existence founded upon peace and tolerance of the Other.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Russo, Adelaide