Alessandra Santos

Associate Professor

Research Classification

Artistic and Literary Analysis Models
Artistic and Literary Theories
Arts and Cultural Traditions
Arts and Technologies

Research Interests

Comparative Literary and Cultural Studies
Latin American Literatures and Cultures
Brazilian Literature and Culture
Modern and Contemporary Literatures and Cultures

Relevant Degree Programs


Research Methodology

Literary and Cultural Analysis
critical theory
Socio-Historical Contextualization


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Graduate Student Supervision

Master's Student Supervision (2010-2017)
Violencia y destrucción ecológica en tres recientes narrativas gráficas colombianas (2017)

The recent Colombian comics and graphic novels Benkoz renace by Jean Paul Zapata, Los guerreros de Pachamama by Tairon Ernesto Cutiva Amaya, and Mohán: el mito by Inu Waters address themes of violence (especially forced displacement) and ecological destruction related to the Colombian armed conflict. These works are part of a recent surge in comic book production that Suárez and Uribe-Jongbloed have pointed out. With an ecocritical approach, the first chapter examines the relationship between physical and symbolic violence and ecological destruction in these works related to the Colombian armed conflict which continues after more than 52 years despite the recent peace treaty with the FARC guerrilla (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces). While paramilitary groups, guerillas, and economic interests are represented as victimizers of “nature” (or the non-human world) and minorities (campesinos, Afro-Colombians, and indigenous people), in Los guerreros de Pachamama, “nature” is personified and seeks revenge against these victimizing forces. The second chapter explores the use of mythical elements in the narratives with respect to history, emphasizing how they highlight the repetition of violence and ecological destruction in different historical periods while also recognizing their decolonial potential. Finally, with theoretical reference to Val Plumwood and Arturo Escobar, the last chapter explores “hybrid characters” that combine human and non-human aspects in these narratives that work to present the latter as subjects and agents. I argue that these characters break with the Western dualism between humanity and nature, encouraging new ways of understanding humanity’s relationship with the planet. I conclude that the works examined in this thesis portray the violence of the Colombian armed conflict in a way that recognizes its effects not only on human beings but also on the non-human world. Through mythical elements, it is viewed as a repetition and an intensification of the patterns of the past. Hybrid characters contribute to an understanding of humanity and nature not as separate and hierarchically organized categories but as interdependent worlds that are both endowed with agency.

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La hibridez genérica en dos obras de Manlio Argueta Un día en la vida (1980) y Cuzcatlán donde bate la mar del sur (1986) (2015)

The primary objective of this project is to problematize the literary genres used by the Salvadorian author Manlio Argueta (El Salvador, 1935) in two of his texts. The primary texts used are Un día en la vida (1980) and Cuzcatlán donde bate la mar del sur (1986). In both these works the historical, social, political and cultural experiences of El Salvador are novelized through the voice of testimony. Through a review of the testimonial theory and an analysis of the text we observe that these life narratives experience a hybridization of genres, because through an aesthetic and poetic language the author merges both a literary genre the novel and a genre with a social commitment the testimonio. Through this fusion the author is not only able to expose his own life experience but he is also able to give voice to the voiceless, and create a more impactful narrative.

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Longing for dissonance : the coming community in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007) by Junot Diaz (2015)

This thesis investigates Junot Díaz’s portrayal of the Dominican diaspora in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007) to propose that Junot Díaz’s understanding of belonging approaches Giorgio Agamben’s concept of community as a being together of individuals in an inessential solidarity. The novel presents the marginalized Others of the Dominican diaspora as individuals whose longing for a sense of community problematizes the notion of bounded physical and temporal loci. The characters are never only of one nation or one culture, neither can they be identified as representing a singular race, class, religion, gender, or sexuality. Rather, they occupy multiple realities across contingent temporal registers so that errancy, mutability, and ambivalence characterize their transcultural experience of the quotidian. This being in flux opens liminal spaces from which they can grasp potentiality to refigure the past and interrupt the performance of the present for cultural renovation. Through the lens of Oswald de Andrade’s cultural anthropophagy and postcolonial theorists such as Homi Bhabha, Édouard Glissant and Antonio Benítez-Rojo, this thesis discusses the ways in which Díaz’s text engages readers to re-examine normative paradigms of belonging to imagine sustainable commonalities that do not evince an essence.

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Mala onda (1991) de Alberto Fuguet como una herramienta de desfamiliarización en la sociedad de consumo contemporánea (2015)

The primary object of analysis of this thesis is the novel Mala onda (1991) by the Chilean writer Alberto Fuguet (Chile, 1964). The hypothesis specifically states that this text can be interpreted as a tool that facilitates defamiliarization (in the terms proposed by Viktor Shlovsky in his essay Art as Technique, published in 1916) on readers who are part of contemporary consumer society. Both in terms of content (strongly on this point, because this is where the summit defamiliarization in the novel moment occurs: the moment when the main character runs away abruptly from home) as in a formal level (form acts as a adjuvant to fulfill the potential of defamiliarization that the novel has), Mala onda is presented as a text that can generate the alleged breach of perception that has fallen into the habitual. In other words, an effect of strangeness upon the one who lives accustomed to the consumer society, who does not stop to reflect on it. Thus, both in terms of content and formal level, Mala onda ends up setting a narrative formula -form and content conjugated to produce defamiliarization- that could be interpreted as an artistic tool that facilitates the defamiliarization or estrangement on the reader, who is imbued within the current consumer society. El objeto primario de análisis de esta tesis es la novela Mala Onda (1991) del escritorchileno Alberto Fuguet (Chile, 1964). La hipótesis, concretamente, plantea que este textopuede interpretarse como una herramienta que facilita la desfamiliarización (en los términosque propone Viktor Shlovsky en su ensayo Art as Technique, publicado en 1916) en loslectores que son parte de la sociedad de consumo contemporánea. Tanto a nivel de contenido(enfáticamente en este punto, pues es aquí donde se produce el momento cumbre de la desfamiliarización en la novela: el momento en el que el personaje central huyeabruptamente de su hogar), como a nivel formal (la forma actúa como un coadyuvante detodo el potencial de desfamiliarización que tiene la novela), Mala onda se presenta como untexto que puede generar el pretendido rompimiento de la percepción que ha caído en lahabitualidad, es decir, producir un efecto de extrañeza en aquel que vive habituado a lasociedad de consumo, que no se detiene a reflexionar en ella. Así, pues, tanto a nivel decontenido como a nivel formal Mala onda termina por configurar una fórmula narrativa –contenido y forma conjugados para, finalmente, desfamiliarizar– que puede considerarse unaherramienta artística que facilita la desfamiliarización o el extrañamiento en el lector que estáimbuido dentro de la sociedad de consumo actual.

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