Gesturing toward the Global: Latin American Literature at the Turn of the 21st Century

Other Titles


This dissertation theorizes the place of Latin American fiction from the 1990s and the 2000s within a global framework by studying ways in which authors reflect upon the experience of globalization and situate themselves beyond the boundaries of national literatures. In particular, it analyzes a set of disruptive practices that lay in-between spaces among the verbal, the performative, and the visual. By gesturing toward the global, these phenomena seek to estrange and re-mediate power relations both within literary canons and across worldwide cultural hegemonies. Through them, authors not only address globalization as a literary topic, but claim an active role in imagining the global. The interest of this study is thus twofold, for while such a gesturing distinguishes contemporary authors who otherwise do not claim to form a generational movement or aesthetic, it also invites a reconfiguration of received ideas about global culture. Among such phenomena, I study appropriations of the concerns and methods of contemporary art, parody of celebrity culture, and representations of alternative models of globalization. The first of four chapters shows how Cesar Aira's motif of the sonrisa seria calls for readers to critically explore the relationship between iconic images, what these represent beyond the realm of the national, and their function within visual displays of power. The second chapter analyzes Aira and Mario Bellatin's borrowings from conceptualism and performance art as they bear upon the problems of the circulation of books and the commodification of the presence of the author in a world market. The third chapter presents how, by imagining Medellin as the capital of the world, Fernando Vallejo carries out a transcendental exploration of the limits of the visual as an instrument for mediation between local, national, and global realms. Lastly, the fourth chapter considers the reasons behind the persistent choice of Nazism, as it is represented in pop culture, as a distressing backdrop for contemporary reflections on globalized politics in Roberto Bolano, Jorge Volpi and Ignacio Padilla.

Journal / Series

Volume & Issue



Date Issued




Globalization; Cesar Aira; Fernando Vallejo; Roberto Bolano; Mario Bellatin; 1990s Latin American Literature


Effective Date

Expiration Date




Union Local


Number of Workers

Committee Chair

Committee Co-Chair

Committee Member

Degree Discipline

Degree Name

Degree Level

Related Version

Related DOI

Related To

Related Part

Based on Related Item

Has Other Format(s)

Part of Related Item

Related To

Related Publication(s)

Link(s) to Related Publication(s)


Link(s) to Reference(s)

Previously Published As

Government Document




Other Identifiers


Rights URI


dissertation or thesis

Accessibility Feature

Accessibility Hazard

Accessibility Summary

Link(s) to Catalog Record