Despiadada(s) Ciudad(es): El imaginario salvadoreño más allá de la guerra civil, el testimonio y la inmigración

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Villalta, Nilda C.
Harrison, Regina
ABSTRACT Title of Dissertation: DESPIADADA(S) CIUDAD(ES): EL IMAGINARIO SALVADOREÑO MÁS ALLÁ DE LA GUERRA CIVIL, EL TESTIMONIO Y LA INMIGRACIÓN Nilda C. Villalta, Doctor of Philosophy, 2004 Dissertation directed by:Professor Regina Harrison Department of Spanish and Portuguese School of Languages, Literatures and Cultures This dissertation examines the transformation of the Salvadorean imaginary during the post-war period (1992 to the present), in El Salvador's "despiadadas ciudades" (ruthless cities) through the works of four authors who belong to the generation of the "splendid hells." Carmen González Huguet expresses feminine self-determination, violence, and changes common to Salvadorean society through the phenomenon of migration; Otoniel Guevara addresses the life of the common man in the violent and cruel city; Jacinta Escudos explores forbidden topics; and Quique Avilés narrates the life of the Salvadorean/Central American immigrant resident in Washington, D.C. In addition to close readings of the works of these four authors, this dissertation documents the parallel emergence of a body of Central American literary criticism. Several theoretical frameworks inform the study of González Huguet, Guevara, Escudos and Avilés. Critical studies of the literature and culture of post-war Central America, and of Central American exile/migration in the United States are central theoretical concepts, as well as the emergence and positioning adopted by engaged Central American critics. In addition a review of testimonial literature and the role of the subaltern situate the writers of El Salvador in an international theoretical corpus. The study of post-war literature and a characterization of its aestheticthe aesthetic of violenceare present in the textual analysis of these four writers, following a chronological/thematic approach, beginning with the war/migration years and the aftermath that follows. Interviews with the four authors enhance a description of the cultural and creative environment in which these four Salvadorean-focused authors write, as well as revealing authorial perspective on contemporary trends in cultural production. Post-war Salvadorean literature emerges from the effort of these writers who are intent upon fictionalizing the new reality of their lives. This generation of writers and their literature narrates, in a new paradigm, the experience of war, violence and reconstruction from an aesthetic of violence that is born of individual, everyday experience, which allow them to talk profoundly about their society.