Queer Genealogies in Transnational Barcelona: Maria-Mercè Marçal, Cristina Peri Rossi, and Flavia Company
University of Cambridge
Modern and Medieval Languages
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
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Tanna, N. (2017). Queer Genealogies in Transnational Barcelona: Maria-Mercè Marçal, Cristina Peri Rossi, and Flavia Company (Doctoral thesis). https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.17220
This dissertation examines lesbian and queer desire in texts in Catalan and Spanish written in Barcelona, Montevideo, and Buenos Aires from the 1960s to the present. In the texts, desire includes but is not limited to the erotic; it encompasses issues of queer textuality, relationality, and literary transmission. I focus on the works of three authors who have spent the majority of their lives in Barcelona. However, the city appears almost incidentally in their works; the genealogies that the authors trace are transnational. The texts combine literal movement (through exile or diaspora) and a metaphorical sense of being “out of place” that prompts writers to take refuge in writing. I demonstrate that despite depicting affinities beyond the family and nation, the works reveal the persistence of familial and national ties, albeit in spectral or queer ways. Rather than tracing continuous lines of descent that emphasise origins, the works are principally concerned with futurity and fragmentation, as in Michel Foucault’s reading of genealogy. Chapter One on Maria-Mercè Marçal’s La passió segons Renée Vivien (1994) traces a literary genealogy from Sappho to Renée Vivien in fin de siècle Paris to Marçal. The novel represents a merging of literary desire and erotic desire; Marçal’s search for symbolic mothers turns out to be a search for symbolic lovers that is oriented towards the present and future. In Chapter Two, I posit that in Cristina Peri Rossi’s La nave de los locos (1984) “happiness” consists of being open to chance and unpredictability unlike in conventional “happy” scripts in which a valuable life is believed to consist of (heterosexual) marriage, children, and property ownership. In Part II I argue that through fragmentation, allegory, and ambiguity, Peri Rossi’s El libro de mis primos (1969) contests authoritarian discourse without itself becoming a site of hegemonic meaning. In inviting the reader’s collaboration, it ensures authorial legacy. Part I of Chapter Three is an analysis of the temporality of obsession in Flavia Company’s Querida Nélida (1988). I propose that obsession and melancholia may point to a utopian future rather than signalling an entrapment in the past. My study of Melalcor (2000) in Part II suggests that queer forms of relationality that are not centred on procreation and monogamy offer ethical models of sociality. Part III focusses on Company’s return to biological family in Volver antes que ir (2012) and Por mis muertos (2014). The resurgence in these texts of family members who have died signals that just as the queer haunts the family, the family haunts the queer.
Cristina Peri Rossi, Maria-Mercè Marçal, Flavia Company, Queer temporalities, literary genealogy, Sappho, Renée Vivien, Barcelona, lesbian literature, queer literature, queer, lesbian, Sapphic, queer textuality, transnational literature, exile, diaspora, genealogy, Michel Foucault, fragmentation, legacy, obsession, affect, melancholia, La nave de los locos, Ship of Fools, Tapestry of the Creation, dictatorship, Sara Ahmed, Rosi Braidotti, La passió segons Renée Vivien, El libro de mis primos, Melalcor, Querida Nélida, Volver antes que ir, Por mis muertos, inheritance, eroticism, futurity, queer futurity
PhD funded by UK Arts and Humanities Research Council (grant no. 1376944).
This record's DOI: https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.17220
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