Intermedia strategies of narrative resistance: Cartucho, La noche de Tlatelolco, and representations of Ayotzinapa
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This dissertation examines the use of visual media as a means of resistance to oppressive political narratives in five Mexican works from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Included are two novels: Nellie Campobello’s Cartucho: Relatos de la lucha en el Norte de México (1931), on the Mexican Revolution, and Elena Poniatowska’s La noche de Tlatelolco (1971), about the 1968 Mexican student movement and the October 2 massacre. I also analyze three projects, both visual and discursive, related to the 2014 forced disappearance of 43 students of the Ayotzinapa Teacher’s College in Guerrero, Mexico. The three historical moments the five texts explore are marked by particular trends in visual representation as well as by official narratives that manipulate or misrepresent history for political purposes. I analyze Cartucho and La noche de Tlatelolco with regard to their distinctive structures using theories on photography and cinematography, which help to describe the narrative dimensions of the works. The photography theory is primarily drawn from the work of Walter Benjamin, Susan Sontag, and Roland Barthes, while the cinematographic theory is drawn from Sergei Eisenstein’s work on intellectual montage. I argue that Cartucho functions as a textual “album,” in which each brief text (relato) presents a snapshot of a participant or moment during the Mexican Revolution related to the Villista forces. Campobello’s work responds to the commercial and political uses of photographic images of the time (1916-1920) and was written with the goal of refuting the “black legend,” which characterized the Villistas as criminals. Concerning La noche de Tlatelolco, I analyze the way in which early editions of the book incorporated images of 1968, and argue that the text is best understood as an intellectual montage, which communicates through interactions between the fragmentary and contradictory texts that comprise the book. I analyze the three Ayotzinapa projects, a museum exhibit, an online platform, and the Antimonumento +43, by considering how an audience must interact with each; my goal is to understand the discourse these works generate regarding the Ayotzinapa case, and I explore the problems of historicization and memorialization in relation to ongoing Ayotzinapa activism.