Purdue University Graduate School
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posted on 2021-05-06, 01:27 authored by Alejandra Vela HidalgoAlejandra Vela Hidalgo

The narrative of the Ecuadorian César Dávila Andrade (Cuenca, Ecuador 1918 - Caracas, Venezuela 1967) is of great importance for the literature of his country; however, it has not been studied very frequently, as critics have focused on his poetry. This has mainly shown Dávila Andrade as a poet, rather than a narrator. However, his short stories constitute a considerable body of work and must be considered for a global understanding of his work. This dissertation aims to show that the short stories have to be considered an important part of the literary work of Dávila Andrade. Furthermore, the dissertation is part of a process of a contemporary rereading of Ecuadorian canonical authors; specifically, I propose an innovative analysis, based on abjection, gender and body, of texts that have traditionally been studied from narratological and stylistic perspectives only. For this study, I selected stories from different periods in Davila Andrade's career: “Un centinela ve la vida aparecer” (1966), “El hombre que limpió su arma” (1966), “Cabeza de gallo” (1966), “La autopsia” (Revista Tomebamba 1943), “Autopsia” (1952), “Las nubes y las sombras” (1952), “Un cuerpo extraño” (1955), “El último remedio” (1955), “La batalla” (1955), “La mirada de Dios” (1949), and “Ataúd de cartón” (1952). In these short stories, abjection is a subversive category that allows the author to question the constitution and ontology of reality. Julia Kristeva’s theoretical proposal defines abjection as what reminds the individual of a state of being of undifferentiation (before and after existence), in which he/she ceases to be; the presence of the abject puts at risk the existence of the subject within a social system. Specifically, the body in different states in the Davilian narrative is the main abject element that disfigures the categories and hierarchies of symbolic systems (patriarchy and religion are some examples). The Davilian body is essentially feminine and constitutes abjection; it is presented as a border space where reality loses its contours. Similarly, the diseased body and the corpse are constant elements in the Davilian narrative, inhabitants of unstable worlds, which invade places and the characters’ psyches. In conclusion, Dávila Andrade's short stories are occupied by the abjection of bodies, which functions as a concept that allows the dismantling of imposed, closed systems, based on hierarchies, such as patriarchy and religion.


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Languages and Cultures

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Paul Dixon

Additional Committee Member 2

Cara Kinnally

Additional Committee Member 3

Marcia Stephenson

Additional Committee Member 4

Yonsoo Kim