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Humoring Resistance

Laughter and the Excessive Body in Latin American Women's Fiction

Dianna C. Niebylski

Publication Year: 2004

Contextualizing theoretical debates about the political uses of gendered humor and female excess, this book explores bold new ways in which a number of contemporary Latin American women authors approach questions of identity and community. The author examines the connections among strategic uses of humor, women’s bodies, and resistance in works of fiction by Laura Esquivel, Ana Lydia Vega, Luisa Valenzuela, Armonía Somers, and Alicia Borinsky. She shows how the interarticulation of the comic and comic-grotesque vision with different types of excessive female bodies can result in new configurations of female subjectivity.

Published by: State University of New York Press


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pp. i-vi

Table of Contents

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p. vii

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pp. ix-x

In the process of writing this book I benefited greatly from the advise, expertise, and editorial help of many colleagues and friends as well as institutions and organizations. It is with great pleasure that...

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pp. 1-12

Toward the middle of Ana Lydia Vega’s story “Pasión de historia” [“Red Hot Story”],1 there is a moment when the story’s narrator, an aspiring writer, and her friend Vilma, an unhappily married femme fatale trying to cling to a Caribbean sense of pleasure in a sleepy French...

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CHAPTER ONE: Challenging Humor Theory with the “Humored” Body

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pp. 13-30

In “The Cultural Overseer and the Tragic Hero: Comedic and Feminist Perspectives on the Hubris of Philosophy,” Susan Bordo argues that classical philosophy’s near dismissal of comic discourses can be traced to demonstrable links between the comic, the material body, and women...

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CHAPTER TWO: Incontinent Bodies, Mixed Humor: Laura Esquivel

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pp. 31-52

The spirit of playful equilibrium with which Laura Esquivel’s Como agua para chocolate enacts a permeable economy of culinary ingredients and incontinent bodies should give one pause when tempted to...

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CHAPTER THREE: Provocative Bodies, Hard-Edged Humor: Ana Lydia Vega

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pp. 53-72

Life is cheap in Ana Lydia Vega’s “Pasión de historia” [“Red Hot Story”].1 Narrated in a mock-noir style that overflows with colloquial bravado, the story begins as one woman’s attempt to write about a crime of passion, turns into a voyeuristic detour...

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CHAPTER FOUR: Torpid Bodies, Skeptical Humor: Luisa Valenzuela

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pp. 73-94

Written shortly after the author’s return to Argentina following a decade- long exile, Luisa Valenzuela’s Realidad nacional desde la cama (1990) [Bedside Manners]1 can be read as a postmodern political allegory, one in which the ludic-parodic elements successfully bring...

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CHAPTER FIVE: Sick Bodies, Corrosive Humor: Armon

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pp. 95-124

Like Luisa Valenzuela’s señora in Realidad nacional desde la cama, Armonía Somers’s protagonist in Sólo los elefantes encuentran mandrágora [Only Elephants Find Mandrake] (1986) is in bed for all but the duration of the novel, but her illness is real and life-threatening, full...

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CHAPTER SIX: Mutating Bodies, Entropic Humor: Alicia Borinsky

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pp. 125-148

The young narrator in the opening sequence of Alicia Borinsky’s 1997 novel Cine continuado [All Night Movie]1 will later become the city’s most notorious stripper at age fourteen, enjoy a brief stint as a freakish grotesque after her body is scarred from having a uniform...

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pp. 149-152

One of the turning points in the project that grew into this book was the realization that while I had been preparing to treat the presence of humor in Latin American women writers primarily in terms of intellectual wit and verbal humor, their works would oblige me to...


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pp. 153-172


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pp. 173-188


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pp. 189-193

E-ISBN-13: 9780791484951
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791461235
Print-ISBN-10: 0791461238

Page Count: 204
Publication Year: 2004

OCLC Number: 62365177
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Humoring Resistance

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Women and literature -- Latin America -- History -- 20th century.
  • Laughter in literature.
  • Spanish American literature -- Women authors -- History and criticism.
  • Comic, The, in literature.
  • Human body in literature.
  • Women in literature.
  • Dissenters in literature.
  • Spanish American literature -- 20th century -- History and criticism.
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