Document Type


Date of Degree

Summer 2017

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

Fox, Claire F.

First Committee Member

Glass, Loren

Second Committee Member

Méndez Rodenas, Adriana

Third Committee Member

Kruger, Marie

Fourth Committee Member

Buckley, Jennifer


The Irish throughout their tumultuous history immigrated not only to North America but across Latin America, particularly to Cuba, Puerto Rico, Colombia, Chile, Argentina, and Mexico. Ireland and many of these Latin American countries share a close yet under-examined relationship, inasmuch as they are predominantly Catholic, post-colonial, hybrid populations with fraught immigrant experiences abroad and long histories of resisting Anglo-centric imperialism at home. More particularly, the peoples of these nations engage intimately with the dead (as shown, for example, by the Mexican Day of the Dead and Celtic roots of Halloween), and the dead appear frequently in literature from these countries that takes up issues of colonialism and anti-colonial struggles. The dead can function as repositories for forgotten history and allies in counter-imperial struggle; these roles become particularly important in the 20th century, wherein the forces of economic modernization have rushed to erase the memories of the dead. From the speech of the dead in the prose works of Juan Rulfo, Máirtín Ó Cadhain, Samuel Beckett, and Carlos Fuentes, to the anticolonial poetics of William Butler Yeats and Julia de Burgos, this thesis examines how these two regions have, both in parallel and in concert, utilized the dead to bolster various nationalistic projects. This dissertation also explores patterns of Irish/Latin American literary citation and influence, tracing, for example, how Jorge Luis Borges’s responded to James Joyce, or how a scene from Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels is re-enacted in the novels of Flann O’Brien and Gabriel García Márquez. This project contributes to comparative approaches to Irish literary and modernist studies, improves our nascent understanding of how the Irish and Latin Americans have interacted throughout their overlapping histories, and expands our comprehension of how the dead have been and continue to be utilized across the developing world to resist economic neo-colonialism.


Death, Intertextuality, Ireland, Latin America, Modernism, Postcolonialism


xl, 175 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 166-175).


Copyright © 2017 Jacob Bender