Date of Award

Spring 8-31-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Leila Gómez

Second Advisor

Deepti Misri

Third Advisor

Julio Baena

Fourth Advisor

Núria Silleras-Fernández

Fifth Advisor

Emmanuel David


This dissertation examines liminal subjecthoods in the narrative work of Dominican-American writer Junot Díaz and Argentinian writer and film-maker Lucía Puenzo. Moving across the American hemisphere, I follow subjects in transit in Junot Díaz’s novel The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2008), his collections of short stories in Drown (1996) and This is How You Lose Her (2012); and Lucía Puenzo’s novel El niño pez (2004), along with its filmic adaptation under the same title (2011), and her film XXY (2009).

The affective histories I trace in these narratives point to their modes of calling out inherited remnants of the past. In this way, my investigation seeks to expose the ways in which these cultural artifacts provide alternative sites of belonging through their very embodiment of the in-between. By refusing to ascribe to the varying mythos of origin and monolithic identity, the narratives I study make apparent the historical hauntings enacted by coloniality. The characters’ continual transition and negotiation of identity points to the ways in which they are corporeally inscribed by history. These texts are thus political agents that engage in decolonial gestures through queer embodiments and figurations. I deem such figurations “imagined be-comings” for they point to a moment not yet here, existing like the subjunctive “be” in the realm of desired possibility.

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