The postmodern novel of formation: an emergent "genre"?
What happens when the aesthetic traits of the classic Bildungsroman model are combined with those of postmodern narratives? There is a major shift in the postmodern period that puts into question issues of self-formation, identity, and the possibility to reach full maturity, aspects that were at the aesthetic center of the original Bildungsroman genre. Nevertheless, bildungsroman features continue to come back, almost obsessively, in late twentieth and twenty-first century fictions written in Spanish, signaling that integration and belonging are universal, timeless and ultimate human aspirations. A group of Spanish-speaking writers and filmmakers, many of whom write from the diaspora, have been depicting a prototype of postmodern (anti)heroes who embark on journeys of formation, and return filled with a sense of disillusion and "homelessness," unable to integrate to society. This marks a significant turn from the successful, middle-class characters represented in the European Bildungsroman model and its variations written in Hispanic regions up to the present, as the forces of globalization in the postmodern period affect everything from economics to literature, undermining efforts toward stability and unity. These characters, however, do not sink into despair, but are driven by their sense of failure to envision the possibility of a better world, and suggest alternative models to achieve it. This subversive socio-cultural shift consists, at its core, of a long-needed restoration of personal / community relationships as an alternative to a collapsing neoliberal global model, with its individualistic approach and dehumanizing consequences.
In particular, we are interested in papers exploring contemporary novels and films from Latin America and Spain showing clear traits of the Bildungsroman genre. We seek to engage in a conversation with scholars analyzing adaptations and variations of the classic Bildungsroman model within a postmodern view of existence. Works on novels and films from late twentieth century will be considered.
Please submitt abstract directly to the NeMLA website: