Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Cathryn Merla-Watson

Second Advisor

Dr. Marci McMahon

Third Advisor

Dr. Matthew Christensen


When a traumatic event collectively happens to a group or body of people, be that geographically, emotionally or physically, an imprint is left behind which impacts a part of a culture or society. The larger the scale of the incident, the wider the scope in terms of lives affected and memory established, which creates a new history for many.

In Alejandro Zambra’s (2011) Ways of Going Home, Zambra remembers his traumatic childhood growing up under the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet in war torn Chile in the 1980s. While this postmodern novel uses memory and historical perceptions from a child’s viewpoint, Esmeralda Santiago’s (2011) historical romance Conquistadora focuses on the characters within her historical romance and centralizes the effects of colonialism in Puerto Rico.

Interestingly, these novels are published within a few years of each other and focus on collective traumatic memory, inviting analysis of conventional genre through transatlantic or transnational triangulation. These texts offer a global picture of the aftermath of colonialism and violence, the trauma it leaves behind, and the ways history can be told through varying cultural perspectives.

While transatlantic approaches have focused on political and wartime discourse, there is a gap in this scholarship within the personal and collective memory realm within trauma. Through the postmodern memoir, collective traumatic memory and cultural identity, this thesis connects this gap by demonstrating how these elements are triangulated culturally and geographically with examples from each of these texts.

This transatlantic approach stems from Chile and Puerto Rico, as set within these stories and the very bloodline of these authors. Through these stories, I will identify how each represents collective identity in culture through the impact of memory in trauma and demonstrate the effects of the postmodern memoir using collective identity and intergenerational trauma.


Copyright 2021 Amanda A. Taylor. All Rights Reserved.