Re-humanizando al sujeto alienado : extrañamientos de lo masculino en la narrativa existencial cubana




Watlington, Francis David

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My dissertation Re-Humanizing the Alien: Estranged Masculinities in Cuban Existentialist Fiction examines the role of alienation in the construction of compensatory masculine subjectivities during the social, cultural and industrial modernization of Cuba, dating from the mid-19th century until the initial stages of the Cuban Revolution, in the 1960s. In this project I analyze, primarily from the perspective of gender studies, transcontinental philosophy (European and Latin American) and the history of ideas in the Hispanic-American world, the shifts in masculine identity formation among Cuban intellectuals and writers whose work deals with the relation between angst and freedom in the context of crisis tendencies in the developing colonial/postcolonial state. For this purpose, I will analyze the works of the following Cuban authors: José Antonio Saco (1797-1879), Juan Francisco Manzano (1797-1854), Enrique Labrador Ruiz (1902-1991), Virgilio Piñera (1912-1979), Edmundo Desnoes (1930-) and Calvert Casey (1924-1969). Studying these writers and their literary production, I will be able to contribute to current debates on existentialism with regard to the role of masculinities in generating forms of resistance against patriarchal and colonial oppression. Moreover, I demonstrate how these gender constructs interrogate traditional notions of Cuban and Spanish Caribbean modernity by deploying existential narratives in the service of fashioning a literary-grounded decolonial ethics. Consequently, I provide a critical reading of the topic of existentialism which demonstrates the validity of the notion of gender as a useful category of analysis for understanding the role of affect in destabilizing cultural gender norms. This project ultimately aims to analyze alternative ways of expressing masculinity which have emerged from within literary negotiations of identity, thus allowing for a more inclusive and comprehensive evaluation of Cuban male subjectivities, and a deeper understanding of the historical development of social and economic relations in the nation-state, as well as its engagement with ideology, race, national character and politics.


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