Cartographies of historical traumareinscribing memory to create hospitable spaces in african american literature

  1. Paula Barba Guerrero
Supervised by:
  1. Ana María Manzanas Calvo Director

Defence university: Universidad de Salamanca

Year of defence: 2021

  1. Viorica Patea Chair
  2. Ángel Mateos-Aparicio Martín-Albo Secretary
  3. Silvia Schultermandl Committee member

Type: Thesis

Teseo: 677953 DIALNET


This dissertation examines the production and occupation of speculative sites of memory in contemporary African American literature. More specifically, it aims to assess the meanings of various representations of cultural memory in eight contemporary African American novels from a combined lens of space and memory studies. By looking at the selected corpus as speculative fiction, I interrogate the ways in which the novels challenge and subvert hostile views of a consensus historiography that effaces cultural pasts. I argue that, in the eight novels that comprise this dissertation, memory is reinscribed as a means to create hospitable spaces wherein the trauma of slavery and of its many present ramifications can be worked through. I trace the characters’ search for shelter and home, and interpret their journeys as acts of "narrative hospitality" that, according to Paul Ricoeur, enables authentic renderings of the story of the Other without mediation or external judgement. My argument is that these narratives mobilize cultural memory as an “errant affect” that is grounded in an unretrievable history and thus needs to be imagined. By wandering, I suggest, the characters in these novels manage to retrace ancestral grounds, reclaiming the past from the realm of speculation.