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Author ORCID Identifier


Campus-Only Access for Five (5) Years

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Hispanic Literatures & Linguistics

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Luis A. Marentes

Second Advisor

Jose N. Ornelas

Third Advisor

Peter A. Stern

Subject Categories

Latin American Literature | Spanish and Portuguese Language and Literature


What purchase does the concept of sanctity hold for a secularized modernity or post-modernity? This dissertation studies how the life and work of Teresa Urrea (1873-1906), a popular saint of the Mexico-US Borderlands, is scripted in two contemporary representations in order to ascertain how narrative plays a role in defining sanctity. In particular, I demonstrate the flexibility afforded by the genre of hagiography as it meets modernity in Borderlands literature by augmenting Arjun Appadurai’s anthropological theory of “scapes” to include a literary-scape: a cultural flow of story-telling that admits no geo-political boundaries and which interacts on equal footing with more canonical trajectories like the political or the economic. One the one hand, I examine how recent historical narratives of Teresa, which contextualize her as a product of her cultural moment, effectively de-sanctify la santa de Cabora. In this sense, by demoticizing her extraordinariness, they operate as anti-hagiographies. On the other hand, I document how feminist novelist Brianda Domecq elects essay and novel writing (rather than history-writing) in order to expose the underlying issue of women’s erasure as a product of pernicious mythological tropes about women. I argue that Domecq reimagines Teresa’s sanctity, crafting her as a Feminist Saint whose trajectory of demythologization demonstrates a possible a path of liberation and salvation from the restrictive, socially constructed identities that have been imposed upon women. I conclude that la Santa de Cabora could be all things to all people because the modern hagiography of the Borderlands allows for the development of divergent logics of sanctity across innumerable literary-scapes.