Publication Date




Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Modern Languages and Literatures (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Chrissy Arce

Second Committee Member

Lillian Manzor

Third Committee Member

George Yudice

Fourth Committee Member

Donette Francis


Seeking alternative metaphors for understanding the Caribbean experience as it is illustrated in contemporary Spanish Caribbean novels, this dissertation explores broken bodyscapes in order to approach the organizing metaphor of dismemberment. I establish a metaphorical connection between the body with missing limbs and the family tree with missing limbs in order to map the space of limb/o in which both allegorical and literal orphans are depicted in the following novels: La casa de la laguna (1997) by Rosario Ferré, Nuestra señora de la noche (2006) and Sirena Selena vestida de pena (2000) by Mayra Santos-Febres, El reino de este mundo (1949) by Alejo Carpentier, Del amor y otros demonios (1994) by Gabriel García Márquez, Son de almendra (2005) by Mayra Montero, and Bachata del ángel caído (1999) by Pedro Antonio Valdez. In my consideration of these Spanish Caribbean histories and herstories, I focus on the formation of fictive families and propose the model of the adoptive community to understand the bonds that are forged when traditional kinship structures are turned upside down. To complement this notion of the adoptive community, I integrate the entangled relationship between musicality and textuality into my study, reading music as an alternative modality that activates the process of kinning. I have coined the term kinning in order to signal the performance of kinship, a practice of re-membering that is activated when the unspeakable is communicated through music. Organized thematically into four chapters, this dissertation rethinks limb/o in relation to the search for a holistic identity.


Spanish Caribbean literature; dismemberment; orphanhood; kinship; body; limbo