Major and Classification
English and Minor in Advertising
Michael du Plessis, Ph.D.
Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism
“After the Fall: Neoliberalism, Bodily Trauma, and the Global Latin American Novel”
My research project examines how Latin American novelists have attempted to represent an emerging consciousness of the world as a whole after 1989. This year marks the point at which the overbearing Cold War political binary between the capitalist West and the communist Soviet Union dissipated, allowing for a new world order to emerge in its absence. Frequently pointed to as globalization, the implications of this new order for the cultural production of former “Third World” regions are hotly contested. Because Latin America was one of the most fervent sites of competition between the dominant Cold War players, and because this former political reality shaped a distinct literary tradition of nationalist anti-dictatorial novels, how this region’s post-1989 fictional texts represent their place on the world stage provides a deeper understanding of globalization’s influence on the literary history of Latin America. To this end, I examine how two contemporary Latin American novels, Roberto Bolaño’s 2666 (2004) and Mario Bellatin’s Beauty Salon (2000), suggest a particular response to globalization that is predicated on local resistance to US neoliberalism. By focusing their narratives and aesthetics on the corporeal trauma wrought by contemporary economic policies, be it in the corpses of female maquiladora workers of 2666 or in the diseased bodies of queer Mexican youth unable to receive medical care of Beauty Salon, these two novels suggest that globalization is not a progressive mechanism for unencumbered cultural interaction, but instead a new iteration of US imperialism.