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Ghost-Watching American Modernity

Haunting, Landscape, and the Hemispheric Imagination

Maria del Pilar Blanco

Publication Year: 2012

In Ghost-Watching American Modernity, Maria del Pilar Blanco revisits nineteenth- and twentieth-century texts from Spanish America and the United States to ask how different landscapes are represented as haunted sites. Moving from foundational fictions to Westerns, Blanco explores the diverse ways in which ghosts and haunting emerge across the American hemisphere for authors who are preoccupied with evoking the experience of geographical transformations during a period of unprecedented development. The book offers an innovative approach that seeks to understand ghosts in their local specificity, rather than as products of generic conventions or as allegories of hidden desires. Its chapters pursue formally attentive readings of texts by Domingo Sarmiento, Henry James, Jose Marti, W. E. B. Du Bois, Juan Rulfo, Felisberto Hernandez, and Clint Eastwood. In an intervention that will reconfigure the critical uses of spectrality for scholars in U.S./Latin American Studies, narrative theory, and comparative literature, Blanco advances ghost-watching as a method for rediscovering haunting on its own terms.

Published by: Fordham University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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p. v

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pp. vii-ix

Although the geographical scope of this book is the American hemisphere, its development was very much a transatlantic affair that began in New York City and culminated in various locations throughout the United Kingdom. I take this opportunity to thank people on both sides of the ocean for their support...

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pp. 1-29

Haunting can take many forms: Alongside apparitions of supernatural shapes or beings that would otherwise be imperceptible, it can also mean the disquieting experience of sensing a collision of temporalities or spaces—an experience that is nevertheless riddled with doubt and uncertainty. Thus, to look for ghosts...

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1 /Unsolving Hemispheric Mystery

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pp. 30-60

In this chapter, I explore the impasse between the haunting of art and the art of haunting, its critical history and implications. I am particularly interested in seeing how genre—the delineation of artistic production into historical, ideological, and formal classifications—has come to haunt haunting. Given my interest in...

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2 /Desert Mournings

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pp. 61-99

Thoughts about how desert landscapes come to be crafted in the arts reveal a tension among a number of national and ideological discourses that, tangled throughout time and innumerable disseminations, often cloud the specificity of their histories. The people of Israel crossed the desert for forty years, and Christ...

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3 /Urban Indiscretions

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pp. 100-148

Henry James cultivated and perfected the art of writing ghost stories throughout his career, and throughout this experiment with this particular narrative form, the issues of haunting became gradually more complicated, and, one could also say, progressively inscrutable. What at first seemed an interest in demystifying...

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4 /Transnational Shadows

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pp. 149-178

Limitless nations, landscapes without confines: Such are the dreams defined and refined by the continuous reimagination of community space. The limit may be quantified—as Darwin does and as Borges recounts in “La pampa y el suburbio son dioses”—and contained to the positivist extent of the eyes’ visual horizon...

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pp. 179-182

One of the story lines in Cormac McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men narrates the apparitions of an elusive and mortifying hitman named Anton Chigurh, who roams the area around the Texas-Mexico border. Chigurh was after a simple man...


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pp. 183-208


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pp. 209-220


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pp. 221-225

E-ISBN-13: 9780823246618
Print-ISBN-13: 9780823242146
Print-ISBN-10: 0823242145

Page Count: 234
Publication Year: 2012

OCLC Number: 830023233
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Ghost-Watching American Modernity

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Comparative literature -- American and Latin American.
  • Comparative literature -- Latin American and American.
  • American literature -- 19th century -- History and criticism.
  • American literature -- 20th century -- History and criticism.
  • Spanish American literature -- 19th century -- History and criticism.
  • Spanish American literature -- 20th century -- History and criticism.
  • Ghosts in literature.
  • Landscapes in literature.
  • Nationalism in literature.
  • Haunted places.
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