Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor's Name

Erik Camayd-Freixas

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Nicola Gavioli

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Third Advisor's Name

Santiago Juan-Navarro

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Sherry Johnson

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member


Mexican Bildungsroman, Women's Bildungsroman

Date of Defense



The traditional Bildungsroman that originated in Europe toward the end of the 18th Century embodied the concept of progress and the belief in the Enlightenment ideals of universality, knowledge and the search for truth. In the classic model of the genre the values of the society represented, those of modernity, are ultimately legitimized. In this dissertation, I argue that the female Bildungsroman of Ángeles Mastretta and Carmen Boullosa respond to a fundamentally postmodern aesthetics and ideological framework. In their novels, “Arráncame la vida” (1985), “Antes” (1989), “Mal de amores” (1995) and “Treinta años” (1999), the Mexican writers challenge the legitimacy of the modern ideals of progress and individual maturity that characterized the traditional, European, male Bildungsroman. These texts reject the essentialist and utopian representation of progressive personal growth and achievement that would invariably lead to a fixed state of maturity.

My study of Mastretta’s and Boullosa’s representations of the Bildung process draws on postmodern theories such as those proposed by Jean-François Lyotard, Linda Hutcheon and Zygmunt Bauman, among others. Their protagonists’ subversive and contestatory attitudes toward many of modernity’s most disseminated master narratives –the traditional concept of maturity, of a coherent sense of self and of childhood and adolescence as steps toward a definitive personal identity, suggest a revision of the traditional principles of the genre. In the context of contemporary Mexican society, these texts ultimately suggest the inadequacy of the conventional form of the coming of age novel to represent the process of individual development. In postmodern Mexico, as this study demonstrates, the referents of modernity have lost their hegemonic value and therefore, the conventional model of the coming of age novel must be reinvented. The implications of the novelists’ reconceptualization of the genre are twofold; on the one hand, it suggests an emancipatory defiance of the modern concepts of individual progress and perfectibility, while on the other, it demands a high degree of tolerance toward the ambiguous and plural nature of postmodern representations of women’s formative journeys.





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