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Documents in Crisis

Nonfiction Literatures in Twentieth-Century Mexico

Beth E. Jörgensen

Publication Year: 2011

Examines the theory and practice of nonfiction narrative literature in twentieth-century Mexico. 'In the turbulent twentieth century, large numbers of Mexicans of all social classes faced crisis and catastrophe on a seemingly continuous basis. Revolution, earthquakes, industrial disasters, political and labor unrest, as well as indigenous insurgency placed extraordinary pressures on collective and individual identity. In contemporary literary studies, nonfiction literatures have received scant attention compared to the more supposedly “creative” practices of fictional narrative, poetry, and drama. In Documents in Crisis, Beth E. Jörgensen examines a selection of both canonical and lesser-known examples of narrative nonfiction that were written in response to these crises, including the autobiography, memoir, historical essay, testimony, chronicle, and ethnographic life narrative. She addresses the relative neglect of Mexican nonfiction in criticism and theory and demonstrates its continuing relevance for writers and readers who, in spite of the contemporary blurring of boundaries between fiction and nonfiction, remain fascinated by literatures of fact.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Documents in Crisis

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p. v

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p. vii

I would like to thank a number of colleagues who share my interest in both nonfiction modes of literature and Mexican literature and culture, and who have encouraged my own research and writing through their scholarly work and their friendship. Ignacio Corona’s invitation ten years ...

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pp. 1-10

More than twenty-five years ago when I first read Elena Poniatowska’s highly acclaimed book Hasta no verte, Jesús mío, I read it rather unproblematically as a novel. That is, I read it as a work of fiction, which I took to mean that its narrated world, while it might have a connection

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1. The Distinction of Nonfiction: Toward a Theoretical Framework

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pp. 11-25

Dorrit Cohn writes, in the preface to her book The Distinction of Fiction (1999), that she undertook to study the singularity of fictional narrative in part in response to a contemporary critical climate that has tended to disregard the distinctive differences between fiction and nonfiction, ...

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2. Writing the Mexican Revolution of 1910

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pp. 27-68

The standard literary histories have created an enduring and little contested category in Mexican letters: the novel of the Revolution of 1910.1 Although the most widely accepted definitions vary by establishing relatively more narrow or more expansive time limits within which ...

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3. Living Stories, Telling Lives: Autobiographical Writings of José Vasconcelos and María Luisa Puga

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pp. 69-105

Autobiography studies began to claim a central place in literary criticism and theory in Europe and the United States with the dissemination of the work of Georges Gusdorf, Philippe Lejeune, William Spengemann, and James Olney in the 1970s and early 1980s.1 These theorists created ...

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4. Life Writing from a Popular Perspective

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pp. 107-136

The access of subaltern voices to “this most democratic province of the republic of letters” is a question that Latin American writers, intellectuals, and grassroots activists began to engage in a sustained fashion in the second half of the twentieth century through the production and ...

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5. Chronicling Crisis: Late Twentieth-Century Manifestations of the Literature of Encounter

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pp. 137-159

I open this chapter on the chronicle in late twentieth-century Mexico with a quote that efficiently synthesizes the core characteristics and concerns of this abundantly produced and widely read mode of nonfiction literature. The qualification of the chronicle as a hybrid genre that is flexible in ...

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6. Making History: Subcomandante Marcos in the Mexican Chronicle

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pp. 161-190

Disaster and politics are intimately related, as we have seen in the previous chapter’s discussion of two chronicles about (un)natural catastrophe and its human consequences. In this chapter I will continue the study of the contemporary chronicle and politics by examining a manifestation ...

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Conclusions: Thinking Back, Looking Ahead

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pp. 191-199

As this study of nonfiction literatures in twentieth-century Mexico reaches its logical end point, it offers the chance to look back and draw some conclusions about the work that has been done and to think ahead about new writing practices and new directions for research. Early in ...


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pp. 201-209

Works Cited

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pp. 211-220


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pp. 221-224

E-ISBN-13: 9781438439402
E-ISBN-10: 1438439407
Print-ISBN-13: 9781438439396
Print-ISBN-10: 1438439393

Page Count: 224
Publication Year: 2011

OCLC Number: 775361507
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Documents in Crisis

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Subject Headings

  • Mexican prose literature -- 20th century -- History and criticism.
  • Mexico -- History -- 20th century -- Sources.
  • Mexico -- History -- 20th century -- Historiography.
  • Autobiography -- Mexican authors -- History and criticism.
  • History in literature
  • Literature and history.
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