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Publication details for Professor Andrew BeresfordBeresford, Andrew M. (2014). Abjection, Marriage, and the Burrowing Worm: The Body as Bounded System in the Dança General de la Muerte. Bulletin of Hispanic Studies 91(8): 965-980.
- Publication type: Journal Article
- ISSN/ISBN: 1475-3839, 1478-3398
- DOI: 10.3828/bhs.2014.62
- Further publication details on publisher web site
Author(s) from Durham
This article explores the depiction of the burrowing gusano in the Dança general de la Muerte, arguing that Julia Kristeva's theory of abjection offers a previously untested hermeneutic for interpretation. It argues that the action of the worm in devouring the soft tissue of the corpse can be understood in terms of the blurring of traditional dichotomies between internal/external, self/other, and subject/object. The process, which destabilizes our conventional understanding of structure, system, and order, is predicated on an understanding of the body as a semiotic sign system capable of inscribing the subject within the symbolic order. Death is in this way marked as the intrusion of the real into the symbolic, although a significant complication in the Spanish poem is the representation of Muerte as bride, which allows the reader to queer the text and relate abjection to recent advances in gender studies.