The temporal trope of the ghost and the rhetorical figure of the family in hispanic horror films of the 2000s

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This dissertation analyzes three films from Mexico, Spain, and Argentina--Kilómetro 31, El orfanato, and Aparecidos (2007)--and their interplay with the historicism that has traditionally served as the default referent for

This dissertation analyzes three films from Mexico, Spain, and Argentina--Kilómetro 31, El orfanato, and Aparecidos (2007)--and their interplay with the historicism that has traditionally served as the default referent for "reality" in Western narrative. While grounding my approach in temporal critique, I borrow from deconstruction, psychoanalysis, and queer theory to explore ways in which ghosts and the rhetorical figure of the family are manipulated in each national imaginary as a strategy for negotiating volatility within symbolic order: a tactic that can either naturalize or challenge normative discourses. As a literary and cinematic trope, ghosts are particularly useful vehicles for the exploration of national imaginaries and the dominant or competing cultural attitudes towards a country's history, and thus, the articulation of a present political reality. The rhetorical figure of the family is also pivotal in this process as a mechanism for expressing national allegories, for articulating generational anxieties about a nation's relationship with its history, and for organizing societies and social subjects as such, interpellating them into or excluding them from national imaginaries according to its grammar/logic. The proposed trajectory through these films will help facilitate a study of the potential of these rhetorical figures to either reinscribe or question two of the most fundamental processes that go into the cartography of ideology: the imposition of (a) time and the negotiation of social subjectivity within it. Competing political narratives may use any number of rhetorical strategies to position themselves in time to promote their agendas while continuing to reinforce the overall framework that determines the parameters of what is visible, and thus debatable. As temporal anomalies who are defined by their (in)visibility, ghosts can be used to either reinforce this framework or they can be used to articulate alternative relationships to time, and consequently, other political possibilities. Ghosts, families, and children are especially volatile rhetorical figures because of their potential to expose the mechanisms of societal organization--the construction of social subjects through their relationship to the time and the families of which they are presumably products--as negotiable processes rather than self-evident truths.