Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

Romance Languages

First Advisor

Ericka Beckman


This dissertation lies at the intersection of Marxist literary criticism, spatial literary analysis or geocriticism, and Mexican literary studies. Throughout the dissertation I interrogate the plausible concatenations of these fields for the study of the spatiality of the Mexican modernist novel of the second half of the twentieth century, a period marked by Mexico’s transition from an industrial to a new-export oriented pattern of capital accumulation. I use the notion ‘spatial composition’ to theorize the conceptual relation between the novel’s formal ordinations and the patterns that model the reproduction of capital under specific historical and geospatial conditions. I show that the formal solutions offered by the Mexican novel to the changing dynamics of capital accumulation provide a systematic account of how unevenness comes to be produced and reproduced within the world order of late multinational capital. The periodization advanced corresponds to literary modernism’s consolidation as a cultural dominant in Mexico, a process that can be traced back to the long sixties. I argue that in the context of this long decade, Mexican literary modernism came to operate as a form of symbolic compensation for the exhaustion of the developmental program of the national-popular state. Each chapter studies modernist form against the backdrop of a momentous turning point in the consolidation of a new export-oriented pattern of capital reproduction in Mexico. Thus, each chapter considers how the modernist novel absorbed the antinomies produced by transition, displacement, and economic adjustment, and how self-consciousness and experimentation became imaginary lifelines in the face of socioeconomic decimation. While modernism’s paradigmatic ascendancy continued to hold sway throughout the second half of the twentieth century, a series of narrative impetuses began to challenge modernism’s literary predominance toward the turn of the century. These apertures would continue to develop as modernism transitioned into a cultural residual. I conclude by showing how the historicization of modernism provides formal codifications to apprehend the structural couplings of subjective and objective violence at the end of accumulation.