University of Illinois at Chicago

Obliterated Margins: Severo Sarduy's Writing and Painting

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posted on 2020-05-01, 00:00 authored by Mayte Gonzalez Harbison
This dissertation analyzes the interaction that exists between the visual and verbal imageries in the work of Cuban writer and painter Severo Sarduy. The overall structure of the study takes the form of five chapters, including the introduction. In CHAPTER One), I critically examine Sarduy’s references for art in his theoretical texts written during the mid-1960s-1980s: Escrito sobre un cuerpo (1969), Antología: “Cromoterapia.” (1974), and Christ on the Rue Jacob: “Severo Sarduy, why do you Paint?” (1987). This section contains text-as-process, where Sarduy establishes a dialogic mode of performativity between word and image. He delineates and expands the readability of visual objects, the application of semiotics to the visual arts, and enables a fresh account of the experience of any artist, painter or writer, in the origin of their creation. CHAPTER Two) is exclusively dedicated to his series of paintings, a pictorial line of work that started in the 1960s and did not stop until shortly before his death in 1993. CHAPTER Third and Fourth) explores Sarduy’s pictographic gestures in literature. I present a critical reading of his novels Cobra (1972), Maitreya (1978), and Colibrí (1984) from a visual artistic point of view. I uphold my reading with a review of his neobaroque mechanisms: substitution, proliferation, and condensation. Also, confronted with different ekphrastic readings from critics across disciplines I feel inclined to craft another term to my disposal, “ekphrastic juncture,” where image and text co-obstruct and, in the process, illuminate each other. Across my study, I answer questions to understand the Sarduyan ekphrastic model. How do writers reconstruct the visual image, how do they make it corporeal, turn it into color, or action, such that readers can begin to visualize it? What specific resources do readers use when they try to apprehend what is described in words?



Riera, Gabriel


Riera, Gabriel


Hispanic and Italian Studies

Degree Grantor

University of Illinois at Chicago

Degree Level

  • Doctoral

Degree name

PhD, Doctor of Philosophy

Committee Member

Torres, Maria Teresa Rosman, Silvia Roa, Cristian Ruiz, Barbaro Martinez

Submitted date

May 2020

Thesis type



  • en

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