Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Suzanne LaLonde

Second Advisor

Dr. Caroline Miles

Third Advisor

Dr. Luke Donahue


This thesis explores the paradox present in trauma, addiction, and autobiography, which are all capable of figuring and disfiguring the self. The object of the study is the written testimonio of Liliana López Cabrera, a Cuban former sex worker, survivor of sexual abuse, and recovering drug-addict, who lives on the U.S.-Mexican border.

Using Paul de Man’s idea of defacement and Jacques Derrida’s concept of pharmakon, which shows how something can embody two opposite essences simultaneously, a critical deconstruction is offered, by acknowledging rather than dismissing the incongruous nature of her work. López Cabrera’s testimonio del abismo, spoken through addiction, sex work, and trauma, not only stands up to the criticism that addiction is not an illness, but also demands a reading that evaluates truth through the simultaneous presence of both true and false projections of the self, which ultimately offers a more nuanced understanding of the struggle for identity.


Copyright 2016 Erin D. Knobloch. All Rights Reserved.