Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

Romance Languages

First Advisor

Román de la Campa


My dissertation explores the notions lyric, poetry, modernity, and America. I argue that the idea of America after 1492 is inextricably tied to the emergence of modern lyric poetry. I challenge the tacit understanding that the value of Latin American poetry and poetics rests on the historiographical Hegelian universal spirit of poetry that places its beginnings in Latin America at the end of the 19th century only after it had emerged first in Europe and then in the United States. I analyze the image of America in relation to the heterogeneous constitution of modernity and modern subjectivity, exemplified in Descartes’ dictum “I think, therefore I am.” The certainty of the methodological Cartesian “I” is what modern lyric poetry seeks to undermine through the uncertainty of the lyric subject “I.” I illustrate how the modern dualism of mind and body, subject and object, history and poetry, self and other, would be meaningless without the parallel conceptualization and conquest of America. My claim is that modern poetry, which is exclusively thought of as the subversive and unmediated expression of a decentered, irrational, and spontaneous lyric subject “I,” evolves in opposition to the certainty that reason allegedly gives to the modern subject “I,” conceivable only within the context of the violent history of the Atlantic. Chapter One, “Teoría lírica latino americana,” exposes the invention of lyric poetry within the larger context of the creation of poetry within the Atlantic Circuit. Chapter Two, “Política lírica,” studies the modern creation of san Juan de la Cruz and shows how and why his image has been taken as the ideal spirit of modern poetry. Chapter Three, “Excepción lirica,” explains the relationship between modern lyric poetry and political theology in the case of Octavio Paz and José Angel Valente. The fourth chapter, “Borges, el hábito de lo ordinario,” deals with Jorge Luis Borges’ poetry and poetics in the tradition of modernity. Finally, “Chantal Maillard y las formas prosaicas de habitar lo cotidiano” signals the transformation of lyric practices in what I call lyric exhaustion which can be recognized in the work of the Spaniard-Belgian poet Chantal Maillard, among others.