Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Communication and Cultural Studies - Faculty of Arts


This analysis of four selected Colombian historical novels of the nineteenth-century explores textual modes of self-fashioning in the process of nation building (individual and collective fashioning). To do this a methodology has been employed which entwines literary, political history and cultural studies.

Based mainly on textual discourse analysis, it includes applications of literary theory (the role of the historical novel, Angel Ramas notion of the lettered city, the New Historicist notion of self-fashioning and Mikhail Bakhtins concept of classical and grotesque bodies). It also works with sociology of culture (Norbert Elias notion of civilisation process and Pierre Bourdieus distinction), history of ideas (Michel Foucaults concept of governmentality and technologies of the self), and historiography specific to the Colombian nineteenth century.

The chosen texts for study are Yngermina o la hija de Calamar (1844) by Juan José Nieto; El último rei de los muiscas (1864) by Jesús Silvestre Rozo; Los jigantes (1875) by Felipe Pérez and Los piratas en Cartagena (1886) by Soledad Acosta de Samper. They were selected for having being published in different phases of the period of liberal hegemony in Colombia until the onset of conservatism and because their fictional settings cover different periods of Colombian history (the pre-Hispanic past, conquest, colony and independence).

The analysis focuses on the way the writer constructs simultaneously a textual self-identity in consonance with collective identity emphasising issues of subjectivity, governmentality, space and the body and identifying the strategies employed in the construction of these identities. Thus, a reading of Yngermina o la hija de Calamar shows how Juan José Nieto simultaneously constructed himself as a liberal Romantic denouncing the abuse of power and possessed of a romantic history as site of civilisation. Similarly, Jesús Silvestre Rozo fashioned himself as a liberal Romantic in El último rei de los muiscas (1864) while relying on nostalgia to recreate a heroic past for the nation. In the case of Felipe Pérez, his radical liberal ideology and his experience as geographer produces in Los jigantes (1875) a nation conceived as an ensemble of regions and peoples destined for freedom and equality. Finally, Soledad Acosta de Samper is able to construct herself as a learned female historian in Los piratas en Cartagena (1886) in a time of constraints on the production and reception of women’s writing while also producing a conservative image of the nation as a Catholic, Hispanophile social body.

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