Beyond the borders of exile: exile, immigration, and migration in U.S. women’s writing

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Sonia Alvarez Wilson (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Maria Carla Sánchez

Abstract: This dissertation explores representations of trauma, healing, and memory in the literature of exile. Traditionally, analyses of this literature adhere to the parameters of ethnicity and national origin; however, I argue that an analytical focus on trauma, healing, and memory rather than ethnicity or national origin reveals discursive strategies that transcend cultural borders. I begin my analysis with a consideration of the representation of rupture from the homeland and its representation in Dreaming in Cuban by Cristina García, América's Dream by Esmeralda Santiago, and Geographies of Home by Loida Maritza Pérez. I argue that authors of the literature of exile portray the traumatic experience of rupture from one's homeland through the immediacy of domestic violence. I then turn to the common thread of folk medicine used by Ann Petry in her work The Street and Judith Ortiz Cofer's The Line of the Sun. These traditional faith practices, primarily brought to America through the slave trade, are utilized by the authors as a source of empowerment for the characters in their texts. A consideration across cultural lines reveals that this is a powerful counter-hegemonic strategy prominent in the landscape of exilic survival. Finally, utilizing Marianne Hirsch's framework of postmemory, I consider the prominent use of the photograph in Geographies of Home and Nicole Krauss's History of Love. This analysis demonstrates that whether migrant or immigrant, the search for the American Dream, or at least safe haven, follows discernable patterns of rupture, healing, and challenges of "acculturation." This three-tiered analysis reveals a community of exile portrayed by U.S. women authors and brings transnational and transcultural connections into relief.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2015
Exile and trauma, Exile literature, Latina literature, Postmemory, Santeria
Exiles' writings $x History and criticism

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