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Author's School

Graduate School of Arts & Sciences

Author's Department/Program

Romance Languages and Literatures


Akiko Tsuchiya, Andrew Brown, Lingchei Letty Chen, Nina Davis, Tabea Linhard, Erin McGlothlin, Joseph Schraibman


English (en)

Date of Award


Degree Type

Restricted Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


My dissertation examines the connections between postmemory and gender in contemporary novels and films on the Spanish Civil War: Soldados de Salamina (2001; 2003), La mitad del alma (2004); El lápiz del carpintero (1999); and Death in El Valle/La muerte en El Valle (1996). Each of these texts features intergenerational dialogues that explore how the memory of the war and its aftermath has been transmitted, experienced and recounted. In particular, I underscore how the inherited trauma affects the development of female subjectivity and narrative authority in second- and third-generational accounts of the past. I have drawn upon theoretical and critical readings from the Holocaust Studies context, and am indebted to Marianne Hirsch's formulation of "postmemory" as a unifying concept throughout the project. Postmemory is memory mediated by temporal distance from the traumatic event, but also by claims to authority over its narration. I adapt and expand on Hirsch's model in my consideration of postmemory in a uniquely Spanish context. Specifically, I argue that postmemory, as portrayed in these novels and films, is by its very nature extrafamilial and transnational. Intergenerational dialogues that transcend familial and national boundaries are crucial for interrogating and revising gendered representations of the war and postwar period. While helping foster working-through between survivors, perpetrators and postmemorial figures, these dialogues compel an ethical, empathic relationship to those silenced by history. Significantly, each of my texts establishes a woman as the addressee and interpreter of first-generation accounts: more than an heir to the past, she will also shape the past's inheritance. Not only do my works posit women in this important role, but they often highlight transnational collaboration between female characters in order to recover and re-inscribe women's accounts of the war and postwar in the present. I show the desire for and resistance to such alliances, examining acts of female co-authorship as ruptures in the intergenerational transmission of traumatic memory. My dissertation posits postmemory as an ongoing, communal activity, characterized less by its relationship to the past alone, and more by how second- and third-generation figures visualize their task in bringing past and future together.


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