Stony Brook University
The Graduate School
Doctoral Defense Announcement
Nationality and Lesbian Sexuality in Latina, Latin American, and Spanish Narrative
Margaret G. Frohlich
This dissertation examines the relation of national identity to sexual identity in
contemporary Hispanic novels and films of a lesbian theme. This diverse array of narratives eco
each other in many key ways and share in common an historical stage in which national
boundaries are in flux. Associated with waves of immigration and globalized economies, these
fluctuations call into question the essential quality of other social identifications, such as gender
and sexuality. The novels selected for this dissertation highlight the difficulties of affirming a
marginalized identity in this context without repeating the same modes of exclusion that
characterize marginalizing power relations.
Negotiations between lesbian and national identity are evident in narratives from the
1990’s, such as Con Pedigree by Lola Van Guardia (Isabel Franc) and the film Brincando el
charco directed by Frances Negrón-Muntaner. The interplay between nationality and sexuality
in a context of cultural and spatial border crossings works to destabilize the binaries local/global
and hetero/homo. Frequently a topic of lesbian fiction, the figure of the bisexual further
complicates these facile oppositions. La insensata geometría del amor by Susana Guzner and
Margins by Terri de la Peña explore sexual biases surrounding bisexuality and relate disputes
over sexual boundaries with national border tensions. These novels reveal the complex relation
of margin to center and how mechanisms of exclusion are perpetuated and produced in both
Lesbian fiction extends the topic of difference within lesbianism to the problematic of
difference within language. This genre frequently depicts characters engaged in the act of
writing, and the national inflection of this writing reflects the deterritorialization that
characterizes a minor literature, as defined by Deleuze and Guatarri. The novels Beatriz y los
cuerpos celestes by Lucía Etxebarria and Réquiem por una muñeca rota by Eve Gil further our
understanding of space-time ontology and lesbian identity by emphasizing characters’ discomfort
with the linear temporality that undergirds the historically intact nation. These novels indicate
the epistemological constraints on various figurations of sexuality and suggest the need for a
more nuanced understanding of the relation of national discourse to sexual discourse, one that
permits their interdependencies.
Date: August 28, 2006 Program: Hispanic Languages and Literature
Time: 2:00 Dissertation Advisor: Professor Lou Charnon-Deutsch
Place: Melville Library, N-3062