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Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown: Hysteria in Caribbean and Latino-Caribbean Literature

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posted on 28.10.2014, 00:00 authored by Diana Gonzalez-Cameron
This dissertation explores the cause and function of hysteria in the feminine subject in Post-Colonial Caribbean and Latino Caribbean works by women writers. The literary corpus examined which comprise texts from the nineteen seventies to the year two thousand, include selected stories from Papeles de Pandora by Rosario Ferré, “Pollito/chicken” by Ana Lydia Vega, Dreaming in Cuban by Cristina García, Geographies of Home by Loida Maritza Pérez and Sirena Selena vestida de pena by Mayra Santos Febres. This study employs a methodology informed by psychoanalysis, especially the works by Sigmund Freud, Jacques Lacan and Luce Irigaray; feminist criticism and cultural studies. I propose that the causes for the development of hysteria in feminine subjects change according to the era and are various, such as: the repression of feminine desire and the fallibility of the symbolic order in relation to female representation; past and present traumas in conflict with the creation of a hybrid identity by an immigrant or exiled subject; and the dictums of a patriarchal prescriptive society in its views on gender and sexual difference. Regarding the function of hysteria I found that it also fulfils multiple duties: the articulation of the need for a space for feminine representation in the symbolic order; the creation of a female imaginary as an alternative to the phallic models of the symbolic; the elaboration of feminine subjectivity in conjunction with a hybrid identity by immigrant and exiled subjects; and finally, the construction of a new nomadic subject, one who crosses the binaries of gender, race, ethnicity and class in Puerto Rican literature.



Saona, Maria Margarita


Hispanic and Italian Studeis

Degree Grantor

University of Illinois at Chicago

Degree Level


Committee Member

Niebylski, Dianna Rosman, Silvia Roa de la Carrera, Cristian Aparicio, Frances R.

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