El Bildungsroman de la postmodernidad literaria: Nuevos sentidos de la pertenencia y del desarraigo en la novela y el cine hispanos del siglo XXI
Barrios, Belkis E.
This dissertation explores a trend in twenty-first century works by a diverse group of young Latin American and Spanish writers and filmmakers who, regardless of their country of origin and national identity, seem moved by a common motive. They show a keen interest in revisiting—and subverting—the Bildungsroman genre in their depiction of young (anti)heroes who embark on diverse types of journeys in search of meaning and self-realization, which nevertheless result in a feeling of homelessness and alienation. I focus on both the continuities and the ruptures between the traditional European Bildungsroman model, along with some of its versions written in Hispanic regions in the twentieth century, and coming of age tales of the twenty-first century. Issues of identity, self-formation, knowledge, consciousness, and the possibility to reach full maturity were at the aesthetic core of the canonical model, while the more recent Hispanic fictions reflect on the major shift in the postmodern period that puts all of those issues into question, and points to the futility of any identity quest in an increasingly globalized world. Why would artists be interested in reviving a genre that seems no longer relevant? While it is not surprising that these characters will encounter serious difficulties as they attempt to accomplish integration, postmodern skepticism does not go unchallenged in these works. I argue that, far from fostering permanent hopelessness, adversity compels these characters to envision alternative ways to find a meaningful place in the world. These include cultivating personal and community relationships and attempting to rescue lost connections with the past, as alternatives to a collapsing neoliberal global model, which has proven to fail human expectations. I undertake a comparative approach across the examined works, and the links among them lead me to reflect on the role of the Bildungsroman today, in terms of what it might reveal about twenty-first century artists, their views on their societies, and their unparalleled takes on identity, self-knowledge, and belonging. Ultimately, the dissertation offers a reflection on what the postmodern coming of age fictions are telling us about the state of literature and film as art in a globalized, commoditized world.