From the national to the individual: Forging identities through the use of culinary imagery in representative twentieth -century Hispanic dramas
Despite the increasing number of studies pertaining to culinary imagery within the last fifty years, scant attention has been directed to Spanish American or Peninsular dramatic texts. My dissertation addresses the topic by examining the ways in which food is presented and manipulated in various representative Hispanic dramas of the twentieth century during dictatorial rule and post-transition to democracy in what are arguably the three most important sites in the Hispanic theatrical world: Spain, Argentina, and Chile. I argue that the appearance of food in these dramatic texts is not merely a costumbristic detail, but, instead, constitutes a reflection of the exploration, contestation, and transgression of national identities imposed during times of dictatorial regimes in these countries. Following the transition to democratic rule, the utilization of culinary imagery illustrates much of the conflict and confusion created in the process of delineating individual identities in a pluralistic society. The core of my investigation is a series of analyses of the dramatic texts, informed by sociological, food studies, and cultural studies concepts of identity, in order to assess the socio-historical and political factors that contribute to the use of culinary imagery in twentieth-century Hispanic theatrical texts.
El tragaluz (1967) by Antonio Buero Vallejo (Spain) portrays the haunting persistence of hunger during the Spanish Civil War and the ways in which it dictates familial interactions thereafter. The three Southern Cone dramas I explore treat the themes of hunger and gluttony: Lo crudo, lo cocido y lo podrido (1976) by Marco Antonio de la Parra (Chile), Hoy se comen el flaco (1976) by Osvaldo Dragún (Argentina) and La nona (1977) by Roberto Cossa (Argentina). Their use of the excesses or absences of food questions the structures of power that maintain oppressive practices in society. Cocinando con Elisa (1994) by Lucia Laragione (Argentina) exemplifies how the process of cooking and the transference of knowledge are a means by which social control is exerted and hierarchical stratification within the household is enforced. Lastly, two plays highlight cannibalism and specific items of food and their relationship to issues of personal freedom and identity creation: Personal e intransferible (1988) by Carmen Resino and Mermelada de fresa (1999) by Mariló Seco. Culinary imagery in the seven dramas in question functions as a literary device to discuss the creation, manipulation, and destruction of collective and individual identities.
Latin American literature;
0312: Latin American literature