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Title: Textures of the Sensible: Reading Affect in Diamela Eltit
Authors: Ramanathan, Sowmya
Advisors: Nouzeilles, Gabriela
Contributors: Spanish and Portuguese Languages and Cultures Department
Keywords: affect
Subjects: Latin American studies
Gender studies
Issue Date: 2021
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: In Textures of the Sensible: Reading Affect in Diamela Eltit, I examine the work of Chilean writer, artist, and intellectual, Diamela Eltit, during the historical moment defined by dictatorship and later by neoliberal deregulation, privatization, and technological advancement in Chile. I trace the textures of literary and aesthetic tradition that Eltit cites and transforms, showing how she grounds the avant- and neo-avant-garde’s aesthetic proposals within the embodied experiences, material and social specificities of the marginal, minor, and feminized characters in her novels. In this process, I show how affect is central to Eltit’s framing of the intimate entanglement between aesthetic form and sociopolitical critique, and thereby, of writing as an ethically and politically situated praxis. My first chapter places Eltit in dialogue with one of her early literary influences, Cuban writer, Severo Sarduy. In their shared linguistic playfulness and neobaroque experimentation with intermediality through painting, radio, and photography, I show how writing, for Eltit, uproots the foundations of rational epistemology and unveils the sensory nature of aesthetic and embodied perception. I explore these phenomenological resonances further in my second chapter, where I analyze the affective dynamics of space in conversation with fellow Chilean writer José Donoso, whose El obsceno pájaro de la noche (1970) intrigued her for its chaotic domestic spaces. I show how intimate life is framed as an inherently ambivalent, embodied experience, that disrupts dominant spatial paradigms in her novels—public-private, interior-exterior, national-foreign—and problematizes the disciplinary and sensible formations of the couple, family, and nation, central to dictatorship and transitional rhetoric. My final chapter examines Eltit’s collaboration with Chilean photographer Paz Errázuriz on El infarto del alma (1994), in which Eltit remembers the Surrealist concept of convulsive aesthetics and the artists consolidate a photo-book that moves between text and photograph to depict the uncanny, romantic relationships between patients in a psychiatric hospital in Putaendo, Chile. In Eltit’s work, affect manifests as the ambivalent force of possibility or potential within the sociopolitical and aesthetic regimes of the sensible, permitting me to theorize the textures and effects of her oeuvre beyond the paradigmatic frameworks of trauma, melancholy, or mourning.
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Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Spanish and Portuguese Languages and Cultures

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