Jon Beasley-Murray

Associate Professor

Relevant Degree Programs


Great Supervisor Week Mentions

Each year graduate students are encouraged to give kudos to their supervisors through social media and our website as part of #GreatSupervisorWeek. Below are students who mentioned this supervisor since the initiative was started in 2017.


Professor Beasley-Murray is a supervisor who does not hold your hand in this journey called 'PhD' so you can discover your true potential and present some unique and brilliant idea to the world. Instead, he watches you carefully and when you are lost, he shows you a light to help you get back on track. A modest 'Thank you' is not enough to express how grateful I am for all the help, support and valuable feedback I have received from him. This dissertation would not be same without him as my supervisor.

Upasana Thakkar (2018)


Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision (Jan 2008 - Nov 2019)
El campo literario en Colombia: una lectura en clave de cafe (2020)

No abstract available.

Mining literature in the Andes : mineral narratives from Peru, Bolivia and Chile in the twentieth century. (2020)

This thesis examines twentieth-century Latin American novels that consider the figure of the miner, the mine and the role of the mineral in their plots. I focus on narrative and poetic texts from Bolivia, Chile and Peru to analyze the affect that the hyperobject global mining exerts over human and non-human bodies depicted in the narratives. One of the goals of this project is to call attention to a set of forces and processes previously ignored by critics, such as the impact of mining on spaces and individuals during long temporalities, or the intensity of the mineral and the metallic over larger social processes that have shaped modern Latin American History. Narratives such as En las tierras de Potosí (1911), by Jaime Mendoza, allow me to do so by highlighting the affective intensity arising from the relation between the body of the miner and the mineral. I employ interdisciplinary concepts such as the hyperobject, elaborated by literary critic Timothy Morton, and the assemblage and becoming, from French theorists Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, to better understand the interactive processes unleashed by the intensity of this contact.Using the framework of Affect Theory, I argue that the metallic mineral described in the Chilean gold-rush novel Llampo de sangre (1950) becomes a determinant that not only releases movement across geography but also lethal violence. Lastly, and as the discussion approaches the present, I discuss the mine as an absent center in the global chain of production and distribution represented in Peruvian novels of the late twentieth century. I argue that Peruvian mining literature allow us to identify lines of deterritorialization and escape as they materialize into lines of flight in the canonical texts of José María Arguedas’s Todas las sangres (1964) and Mario Vargas Llosa’s Lituma en los Andes (1993).

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(Pro)creation: new discourses of motherhood in three contemporary women writers (2019)

This thesis investigates new discourses about reproduction in contemporary Spanish literature. I consider how procreation is understood in the selected texts as fully creative and not as a mere reproductive activity detached from cultural practice. I analyze the work of three women authors who explore the topic of procreation through novels, memoirs, and diaries; in them, writing about the reproductive experience is thought through the body, which ceases to be only an object and also becomes the subject that is constructed through writing. I show how, even with the liberalization of Spanish society after the dictatorship, reproduction continues to be a key part of social definitions of womanhood. Women writers are now calling for the concept’s critical re-evaluation in the light of technological change and a rethinking of some of the basic tenets of feminist thought. I bring to this research an interest in the power of language and literary texts, and the discursive construction of identity.My purpose is to show how they intend to restore the affect that such a body is capable of and produce an alternative to power. My analysis is thus focused on three works that dismantle the message that motherhood is only a private matter. They attack current hedonistic capitalism that idealizes the role of the mother while isolating women in the tasks of procreation and care, as mothers do not “have” children as another piece of property, but “bring” human beings to the world. With this project I intend to shed light on the ostracism in which procreation has remained within cultural production and, in turn, to better understand the discourses that have contributed, on the one hand, to discrediting motherhood and, on the other, to essentializing a figure that barely represents the reality for women with children. Society has naturalized what is nothing but a mere construction since procreation is not only a private or individual task, but also a political and collective activity.

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A poetics of failure. individualism and the state in post-dictatorial Southern Cone detective fiction (2019)

My dissertation A Poetics of Failure: Individualism and the Post-Dictatorial State in Southern Cone Detective Fiction engages with a major genre in contemporary Latin American literature: detective fiction. It focuses on a singular aspect of the genre: the historical and literary tensions between individualism and the state. Since the inception of the detective story in the 1840s with Edgar Allan Poe, this tension has traditionally been embodied in the private eye (e.g. Dupin, Holmes, Poirot) and policemen (e.g. Scotland Yard officers such as Lestrade or Japp). I read these personifications as archetypes that amount to an ego contra mundum, in the words of the British literary historian Ian Watt. I examine how this tension is reproduced, problematized, subverted and surmounted in novels written in Latin America, especially by Southern Cone authors such as the Argentinean Ricardo Piglia, the Chilean/Mexican Roberto Bolaño and the Brazilian Rubem Fonseca. My close reading of their work shows the extent to which they all share what I call a common “poetics of failure.” I see this failure as twofold, both political and aesthetic. There is the defeat of the left in the region (a local translation of the broader post-Cold War context), and also the crisis of representation in attempts to portray in fiction this defeat at the hands of a dictatorial state. My dissertation provides an account of what Latin American authors tell us about their Anglo-American models. Whereas Edgar Allan Poe and Arthur Conan Doyle laid the foundations for a tradition that would portray the state as a disabled yet perfectible entity, these contemporary Latin American authors re-imagine the genre by revealing the extent to which what once seemed to be an Anglo-American criticism of the state, can be actually read as its veiled apology.

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Reading testimonio today: Central American literature from 1982 to the present (2019)

This thesis argues that testimonio is above all a perspective from which to read a literary text: it is one way (among many) to understand or interpret a text. The thesis investigates the continued validity of this perspective in the twenty-first century, even as the genre of testimonio is apparently in decline in today’s neoliberal world in which the market governs the production and consumption of literary works. Written and read by would-be revolutionaries and their sympathizers during the resistance to military regimes, testimonio helped propagate the belief that the end of the struggle would bring social change. Texts such as Me llamo Rigoberta Menchú, Miguel Mármol, Si me permiten hablar, and others describe the oppression of military rule and outline the dream of forming a peaceful post-war society. However, in many cases post-war settlements brought disappointment and frustration to the people, leading to a new, more cynical ethos in contemporary literature, and the notion that testimonio (or any other literary tool) might bring social change came to seem an illusion. Against this dominant narrative, I read contemporary fiction and film from Central America (specifically, El Salvador and Guatemala) as testimonio, with a focus on aspects such as parody, transnationalism, and visuality. Contemporary Fictions such as El asco, Insensatez, The Tattooed Soldier, or Voces inocentes are examples that can be read as testimonio. Reading literary fiction from the perspective of testimonio will bypass much of the unproductive debate that surrounds the genre: the dichotomy between truth and lies, fact and fiction, authenticity and inauthenticity. The testimonio genre is trapped in this debate, which occludes the literariness of a text read as testimonio, on the one hand, and the testimonial aspects of literary texts, on the other. 

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The collective experience of Universal Constructivism (2018)

This dissertation deals with aspects of constructivist art in Uruguay during thenineteen thirties and forties that have been largely relegated and put aside until now.Mainly it involves the collective experience of the artistic movement known asUniversal Constructivism, which operated under the guidance and leadership ofJoaquin Torres Garcia (1874-1949) and cultivated his figure as the “maestro”, butwas far from being homogeneous.The aim of this work is to transfer the focus of studies from the individual, or“maestro”, and his “masterpieces”, towards the collective and its own core set ofpieces and/or attitudes that can be put into context in order to enrich an ongoingdebate about this movement. The study on the collective functioning of UniversalConstructivism, furthermore, can be extended to research and better understandother collective enterprises in Latin American modern art.There is no single way to study a collective. This thesis will make use ofdifferent theoretical approximations but mostly it will offer close readings of thecollective’s own work which includes visual arts, architecture, literature andsculpture.

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The Intimacy of Humankind: Divergences and Convergences of Love in Latin American Poetry 1950-1990 (2014)

This dissertation examines the interchange between individual and social love, eros and philadelphos in the writings of four Latin American poets of the Cold War Era: Pablo Neruda, Ernesto Cardenal, Gioconda Belli and Raúl Zurita. Chronologically I frame this work beginning with Neruda’s return to writing love poetry in the early 1950’s up until the breakdown of collectivist movements in the late 1980’s with the expansion of capitalism and the return to democracy in the Southern Cone and in parts of Central America. Geographically, I focus on two countries which have had democratic revolutions in the 20th century in which literature has played a social role: Chile and Nicaragua. Drawing on Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s theories on Romanticism and territorialisation I establish several major points of divergence between eros and philadelphos and then examine the ways each poet manages these differences in their attempt to create a committed poetry oriented towards expressing collective realities and promoting social change

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