Date of Award

Summer 2022

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Languages, Literatures and Cultures

First Advisor

Andrew Rajca


This dissertation explores the juxtaposition of time and space and how they affect the relationships of the protagonists with the people and places around them. I examine works by the Argentine writers Julio Cortázar, Sergio Chejfec, and Samanta Schweblin, to trace a genealogical connection of techniques and universal themes within their texts regarding place and the search for human identity and belonging in the globalized world. Engaging the theoretical notions of space, power, and subjectivity (Henri Lefebvre, Giuliana Bruno, Marc Augé), as well as flânerie and phantasmagoria (Walter Benjamin), I contend that the protagonists of these works are incomplete beings trapped in a threshold. This inframundo, building on Lefebvre’s use of the term “infra,” is a world “short of” completion, where a hypothetical past that they have created in their mental space – and from which they cannot escape – intersects with their present physical space. The characters wander speculatively through the ruins of 20th-century globalized cities and marginalized rural towns just as Benjamin’s flaneur walked reflectively through the ruins of 19th-century Paris, reading the details in areas that once served as sites of Lefebvre’s concept of lived space. As they look back on the past, their tendency to read space prevents them from connecting with the people and places surrounding them and leaves them “short of” Lefebvre’s “total man.” Although the protagonists remain trapped in this inframundo, they possess the potential to serve as a bridge between past and future, national and global, despair and hope, and to transform from “infrasubject” to “total man.”


© 2022, Tamara Alisa Morgan

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