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

No abstract available.

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)

No abstract available.


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