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 - May 2021)
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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Master's Student Supervision (2010 - 2020)
Several sides to the story : representation and reading, movement and space, and female coalition in Salvador Plascencia’s The People of Paper (2020)

Salvador Plascencia’s novel The People of Paper explores many identities and narrative perspectives through its polyvocal narration and varying levels of fiction and reality, where the metafictional narration enlists the reader to question the act of reading and the veracity of fiction. The characters move through many different spaces, making the marginal central. This is reflected both in the narrated space and the space of the page, where topography and movement are reflected within the experimental layout and typography. Finally, I explore these varying perspectives and the materiality of the novel in order to discuss the coalition of female characters and the harnessing of the technology of paper in order to re-shape and question female bodies and identities within Chicana literature and feminisms. I engage with Roland Barthes’ “The Death of the Author” in order to question the act of reading and the distinctions between reality and fiction. I apply Michel Foucault’s spatial concept of heterotopia in order to analyze the town of El Monte, a real town, yet here made fictional. Finally, I refer to Donna Haraway’s A Cyborg Manifesto and Gloria Anzaldúa’s Borderlands, in order to discuss the coalition or community of female characters and new conceptions of female identity and agency through heteroglossia, or multiple perspectives or narrative voices. I conclude that, in creating a dialogue between its characters, the text seeks to broaden representation within Chicana/o literature through questioning the act of reading, movement and space, and collective female identity.

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Subaltern resistance in Ciro Alegría’s El mundo es ancho y ajeno and Mahasweta Devi's Chotti Munda and his Arrow : a comparative study (2020)

This thesis explores subaltern resistance in two novels—Ciro Alegría’s El mundo es ancho y ajeno (1941) and Mahasweta Devi’s Chotti Munda and his Arrow (1980)—within a comparative framework. The subaltern groups under consideration are the Andean indigenous (in Peru), and the tribal, or adivasi, communities (in India). I examine the extent of these novels’ empowering representations of these groups, both of which are politically, economically, socially and culturally marginalised in their respective countries. To what extent do these texts challenge mainstream narratives of victimization, without ignoring the key issues that contribute to subaltern oppression?Using textual analysis and borrowing from ideas generated in the field of subaltern studies from Indian-origin intellectuals such as Ranajit Guha and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak as well as from Peruvian thinkers like José Carlos Mariátegui and Antonio Cornejo Polar, the study identifies and examines some broad thematic and formal points of contact between the two novels: land, nature, memory, writing and orality, education, and solidarity. My conclusions are varied, and attentive to the fact that these are communities in flux, as citizens impacted by and negotiating with modernity. I take care to avoid easy binaries. The texts I am discussing recuperate these communities as historical actors with agency with respect to the past, present and the future, in a postcolonial context. We find that these groups, to a greater or lesser degree in the two texts, adapt their way through change, showing that they are peoples with their own (continuing) history, and are able visionaries of their own futures. Finally, I also note that these texts remain relevant today, and my larger purpose is to imagine fresh possibilities for a south-south dialogue between Latin America and South Asia in the literary field.

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Narconarrativas: poshegemonia y espacio en la literatura mexicana (2019)

On a local and global scale, narcoliterature narrates the effect of narcotrafficking in Latin America. As many have observed, narcotrafficking is a clear sign of our current epochal crisis. It suggests a spatiality crisis which is clearly depicted by the narconarratives. Is not narcotrafficking after all indebted in territorial conflicts? From a posthegemonic perspective, this thesis focuses on the spaces, affects, habits and multitudes that five contemporary Mexican fiction oeuvres trigger. The latter are: Víctor Hugo Rascón Banda’s Contrabando (1991/2008), Daniel Sada’s Porque parece mentira la verdad nunca se sabe (1999) and El lenguaje del juego (2012), Carlos Velázquez’ La biblia vaquera (2011) and El karma de vivir al norte (2014). These oeuvres were written in the context of the “Operación Condor” in Mexico until the Mexican and Central America Narco-War. In the first chapter I focus on Contrabando and I develop the relationship between two types of spatiality (“espacio del campo” and “espacio rural”) and the concept of affect. I argue that Contrabando depicts the inefficiency of the Mexican post revolutionary pacts of the early twentieth century, and that it illustrates a new model of state repression that unfolded in the 1980’s in Mexico rendering the state indistinguishable from what it was fighting against. Soon it becomes impossible to distinguish between victims and perpetrators. In the second chapter, following Pierre Bourdieu’s and Jon Beasley-Murray’s concept of habit, I depict the transition from societies of discipline in Mexico to societies of control, following Gilles Deleuze, in both Daniel Sada’s novels. Finally in the third chapter, through two collections of text by Carlos Velázquez, I describe the process of captures and expressions of the multitudes’ constituent power, following Antonio Negri’s conceptualization and revised by Beasley-Murray, in the context of the Mexican Narco-War.

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The role of literature in Fernando Molano's trilogy: how triple social rejection (poverty, homosexuality and HIV/AIDS) affects the marginalized gay writer (2019)

The literary work of Fernando Molano Vargas was the result of creativity and talent conceived under discriminatory circumstances surrounding poverty, homosexuality, and HIV/AIDS. This thesis asks what drives a person like Molano, who is triply marginalized, to dedicate himself to writing? I argue that Molano, an openly homosexual author, makes of literature his personal instrument of salvation: a matter of life and death. The present work is the first sustained analysis, at least in English, devoted to Molano’s trilogy, guided by theoretical approaches in queer theory such as those of Lee Edelman’s Homographesis (2016) and No Future (2004), and Kathryn Stockton’s The Queer Child (2009). This thesis is divided into three chapters. The first is on the novel Un beso de Dick (1992) and deals with themes of homosexual desire, love, life, and death. I evaluate Molano’s exploration of homosexuality in relation to the naive adolescent’s first love, sexuality, and the homoerotic desire within the masculine environments of sports, where gay men are usually forced to hide their sexuality to avoid homophobia. The second chapter is on the posthumously published novel Vista desde una acera (2012), where I consider themes of poverty, relationships, discrimination, and HIV/AIDS. Here, I interpret Molano’s personal experiences with poverty, gender roles, and traditional family values. I contend that Molano sees in literature an opportunity to process and reflect upon his childhood traumas. The third chapter is on Todas mis cosas en tus bolsillos (1997), Molano’s book of poetry. Here, I explore Molano’s development of love, sexual pleasure, BDSM, homoeroticism, and homosexual relationships and point out how Molano’s poetic voice changes, highlighting a defining characteristic of his poetry—defiance —where intimate life details are shared. The narrator is a voyeuristic, sexually active rebel and literary connoisseur, who aims to capture the attention of a curious reader.

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