Beyond the nation: Issues of identity in the contemporary narrative of Cuban women writing (in) the Diaspora

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)



First Committee Member

Lillian Manzor - Committee Chair


This dissertation traces the narrative of contemporary Cuban women writers from their early work published in Cuba through their Diaspora narratives. It explores the discursive and narrative techniques that contemporary Cuban women deploy in their narratives to challenge Cuba's dominant cultural constructions of national and gendered identity. I posit that contemporary Cuban women's narratives produced on and off the island display aislamiento (isolation) that serves as a means of "talking back" to Cuba's patriarchal discourses. The introduction presents an overview of recent debates on nation, gender and identity within the context of contemporary Cuban literary history and feminist theory. Chapter one examines the textual and discursive techniques Daina Chaviano deploys in Fabulas de una abuela extraterrestre and El hombre, la hembra y et hambre to expose and denounce dominant discourses on nation and gender. In her insular and Diaspora narratives, Chaviano borrows from and contests various literary works and traditions to rewrite Cuban history and the Canon and "talk back" to those who have sought to construct and silence women. Chapter two investigates the ways Zoe Valdes deconstructs Cuban history and its national icons in order to represent Cubanness. Whereas the first part explores the narrative techniques Valdes and Dulce Maria Loynaz apply in their novels, Sangre azul and Jardin , to contest traditional notions of nation and gender, the second part analyzes La nada cotidiana and elucidates how this text debunks Cuba's revolutionary icons. Chapter three examines the narrative and discursive strategies Yanitzia Canetti utilizes in Al otro lado and Novelita Rosa to represent and undermine gender and national identity. The conclusion offers some insight into the future of Cuban Studies.


Literature, Latin American; Literature, Caribbean; Women's Studies

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