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Access Type

WSU Access

Date of Award

January 2016

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Department

Classical and Modern Languages, Literatures, and Cultures

First Advisor

Helene Weldt-Basson

Abstract

Since the nineteenth century, the phenomenon of nation-building in Venezuelan society has focused on finding a figure such as Simón Bolívar, who could represent the birth of the nation and the liberal values that the Creole society–Creole refers to people of European stock born in the Spanish colonies–embraced after succeeding in the Emancipation movements. Simón Bolívar plays a central role in the construction of Venezuelan national identity, as well as that of Colombia and other Andean nations. Venezuelan society–the masses and the elite–is devoted to Bolívar’s cult. However, in the 1960s historical practice evolved from “great men” stories to what Miguel de Unamuno calls intrahistory. A number of critical works center on the new phenomenon, reflecting history from a multicultural perspective.

This dissertation focuses on new works that have appeared as attempts to offer a revisionist perspective with regard to the hegemonic discourse of the Bolivarian official history, exploring how these recent representations of the so-called “hero” contradict the already established scheme of national identity. In order to illustrate the deconstruction of hegemonic discourse, different types of literary and artistic expressions—fiction, film, and painting—are investigated. This dissertation begins by outlining the historical context in which the veneration of Simón Bolívar originated, considering concepts of nationalism, national identity, and cult understood by Benedict Anderson and Germán Carrera Damas. The following works are analyzed: Evelio Rosero’s novel La carroza de Bolívar (2012), Jorge Alí Triana’s film Bolívar soy yo (2001), Juan Dávila’s painting El Libertador Simón Bolívar (1994), and the digital photography created in Venezuela after the exhuming of Bolívar’s remains in 2012. I propose from a postmodern perspective, specifically the theory of Linda Hutcheon, how each of these works deconstructs and challenges the monologic discourse embedded in the classical image of the hero Simón Bolívar. All these works assert a revision of the complex traditional discourse. These works form a site of tension between national discourse and the heterogeneity that conforms the collective consciousness. The deconstruction of the Bolivarian icon is understood as a rearticulation of the social vision in Latin America that points to the transformation of the structure of classes, and the perception and interpretation of the circles of power that arise from governmental and economic elites.

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