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UBC Theses and Dissertations

El imaginario nacional a través de las transformaciones del melodrama en Venezuela : de Doña Bárbara (novela) a El país de las mujeres (telenovela) Rodríguez, Omar A.


This thesis examines Venezuelan national imaginaries through the transformations of melodramatic narratives. Two works are studied in two specific historical moments. Following Fernando Coronil's account, Venezuelan history is punctuated, on the one hand, by the dictatorship (1908-1935) of General Juan Vicente Gomez, and on the other hand, by the second presidential period (1988-1993) of Carlos Andres Perez: the first span frames the oil-impulsed myth of Venezuelan progress and the emergence of the protective state; the second, the collapse of the myth and the switch to a neoliberal state. Within this context, the first text to be analysed is the canonical Doha Barbara (1929) by Romulo Gallegos, a novel with a transparent ideological stance and a clear nationalistic project. The second narrative, El pais de las mujeres (1999), is a telenovela (term used for Latin American soap operas) that brings up the dynamics of a global era in which the national ideology is masked and its elements become deterritorialised. Both works are analysed primarily from an ideological standpoint, brought together with the assumption of a common denominator, i.e., narrative strategies related to a melodramatic cultural matrix. The first chapter lays out the theoretical considerations needed to understand the nation as a network of symbolic and imaginary relations that reproduce institutional dynamics. In this view, dominating segments of society can articulate national discourses and distribute them among the masses. The tendency for these discourses is to be set as melodramas. The second chapter revises the history of melodrama and describes it as a cultural matrix, defining the operations over which it relates to the social. The third chapter looks at Doha Barbara's plot structure and construction of characters to identify the melodramatic disposition of the text and to point out the use and validation of certain national images. The last chapter takes a similar approach to chapter three and shows how El pais de las mujeres reworks the nation to accommodate it to the requirements of new economic forces. The conclusions indicate that during the crucial periods of social transformation in Venezuela, melodramatic narratives have made important contributions to identity formation in portraying what is understood to be Venezuelan, but whereas a novel like Doha Barbara presents an easily identifiable country in an specific context, the telenovela tends to erase particular traces and uses local elements to provide a platform from which is possible to globalize the nation.

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