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Reconsidering Speculative Fiction and the Power of Storytelling in Latin America: Invention and Fabula in Selected Texts from Colombia and Mexico

  • Author(s): Medrano, José Manuel
  • Advisor(s): Williams, Raymond L
  • Liu, Benjamin
  • et al.
Creative Commons 'BY' version 4.0 license

This project explores what I have categorized as "speculative fiction" in Latin America. I consider all fiction related to irrational or inexplicable events within the framework of "speculative/fantastic fiction." In short, I propose that the most appropriate term for all the narrative analyzed in this Dissertation should be “speculative fiction.” In the first chapter, I analyze a series of narrative texts inside and outside of Colombia and Mexico that have multiple Modernist attributes, and it is precisely their Modernist characteristics (the unrealistic) that construct their fantastic content. I trust that this proposal – to see correspondences between Modernist Fiction and the fantastic – is one of the most original ideas of this project. In the second chapter, I analyze a very similar phenomenon in Colombia. Starting from the literary father of the Modernist novel in Colombia, José Félix Fuenmayor and ending with Philip Potdevin, I examine texts that contain numerous characteristics of the speculative/fantastic. In the third chapter, I analyze a series of texts from the Mexican avant-garde of the twenties that can be considered speculative/fantastic. I note the parallels between the first attempts to write a Modernist narrative during the avant-garde period and the fact that it is also the time in which we are seeing the first efforts to write a narrative of speculative/fantastic nature. These factors contribute to my basic approach that the Modernist novel and the speculative/fantastic novel are a noteworthy parallel. In the conclusion, I address my main interest of storytelling. Brian Boyd, Jonathan Gottschall and other scientists, such as Michael Kosfeld and Markus Heinrichs, who have studied storytelling propose that storytelling, from the first homo sapiens, has not only been important in cultural terms, but also in biological evolution. Our bodies – and especially the brain – need stories. This project proposes that it is productive and healthy to tell stories, especially those that deal with movement. For example, scientists have proven that the movement (physical or spiritually) has allowed the brain to evolve. By telling stories, we reproduce our primordial need for movement. When reading stories, of course, we are immobile, but the act of reading stories and narratives allows us to recreate that primordial need for movement. Some very recent post-Boyd scientists have shown that telling stories produces certain chemicals in the brain, such as the hormone oxytocin. This hormone produces a feeling of well-being when produced by the brain. Scientists have also shown that the brain does not distinguish between real physical movement and reading a story in which we have the cerebral sensation of moving.

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