Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2019

Degree Type


Degree Name



Classical and Modern Languages, Literatures, and Cultures

First Advisor

Francisco Higuero


This dissertation aims to uncover from a critical perspective the ways in which several concepts are presented in three 21st century Spanish narratives written by women: Secreta Penélope by Alicia Giménez Bartlett, Mi vida según Martín by Sara Barrena, and Violetas para Olivia by Julia Montejo. Following an introductory chapter, each novel will be examined individually before exploring the significance of all three novels together. The main theorectical approaches used throughout this study include narratology, deconstruction, psychoanalysis, and postmodernism.

The investigation will begin by seeking to answer the following question: What are the main elements of the narratives, and how do these elements come together to produce meaning? In other words, it will begin with a narratological examination of the form and function of the narratives. Upon further analysis, one finds that meaning cannot be constructed merely based on what is present. There are a number of notable absences from the texts, as well, which all contribute to the creation of meaning. It is here that a deconstructive reading of the works based on Jacques Derrida’s concept of différance is essential. Moving into an even deeper examination of the narratives, this work will investigate the ways in which the characters try to construct their own identities according to – and at times differently from – traditional psychoanalytic theories of subjectivity. In addition, the novels will also be examined from a postmodern viewpoint in an attempt to demonstrate the ways in which the traditional dichotomies of, for example, mind/body, presence/absence, language/reality are deconstructed. All three narratives call for a reformulation of how subjectivity and identity are defined. Through such an examination, one begins to see the dangers of subjectivity that is centered on these traditional binary oppositions as well as the ways in which modern women are beginning to deconstruct these dichotomies.

After thorough examination, one finds that these narratives portray truth as something that is purely subjective, and as such, always out of reach. Meaning is constructed through both absence and presence, and is based on reworking and reexamining the past. The concept of selfhood, finally, must be reconceptualized in order to achieve a more embodied, multiple, and positive consideration of subjectivity.