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Borges and Mathematics is a short book of essays that explores the scientific thinking of the Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986). Around half of the book consists of two “lectures” focused on mathematics. The rest of the book reflects on the relationship between literature, artistic creation, physics, and mathematics more generally. Written in a way that will be accessible even to those “who can only count to ten,” the book presents a bravura demonstration of the intricate links between the worlds of sciences and arts, and it is a thought-provoking call to dialog for readers from both traditions. The author, Guillermo Martínez, is both a recognized writer, whose murder mystery The Oxford Murders has been translated into thirty-five languages, and a PhD in mathematics. Contents: Borges and Mathematics: First Lecture; Borges and Mathematics: Second Lecture; The Golem and Artificial Intelligence; The Short Story as Logical System; A Margin Too Narrow; Euclid, or the Aesthetics of Mathematical Reasoning; Solutions and Disillusions; The Pythagorean Twins; The Music of Chance (Interview with Gregory Chaikin); Literature and Rationality; Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad One?; A Small, Small God; God’s Sinkhole. This book was originally published in Spanish as Borges y la matemática (2003). It has been translated with generous support from the Latino Cultural Center at Purdue University. Key points: • Presents complex mathematical and literary concepts in a way that is accessible to non-specialists. • Promotes dialog between readers from both humanist and scientific traditions. • Expands understanding of the Argentine writer, Jorge Luis Borges, including presenting some never-before-translated work.
In this highly original volume, Charles Perrone explores how recent Brazilian lyric engages with its counterparts throughout the Western Hemisphere in an increasingly globalized world. This pioneering, tour-de-force study focuses on the years from 1985 to the present and examines poetic output--from song and visual poetry to discursive verse--across a range of media.
At the core of Perrone's work are in-depth examinations of five phenomena: the use of the English language and the reception of American poetry in Brazil; representations and engagements with U.S. culture, especially with respect to film and popular music; epic poems of hemispheric solidarity; contemporary dialogues between Brazilian and Spanish American poets; and the innovative musical, lyrical, and commercially successful work that evolved from the 1960s movement Tropicalia.
Latina/o Poetic Responses to Neoliberalism and Globalization
Latina/o Aesthetics of Night
Often treated like night itself—both visible and invisible, feared and romanticized—Latina/os make up the largest minority group in the US. In her newest work, María DeGuzmán explores representations of night in art and literature from the Caribbean, Colombia, Central and South America, and the US, calling into question night's effect on the formation of identity for Latina/os in and outside of the US. She takes as her subject novels, short stories, poetry, essays, non-fiction, photo-fictions, photography, and film, and examines these texts through the lenses of nationhood, sexuality, human rights, exoticism, among others.
Autobiografía e invención en el siglo XVI
First-person narrative does not always fall under the genre of autobiography. In the centuries before the genre was defined, authors often patterned their personal narratives after prestigious discourses, such as hagiography, historiography, and the literary miscellany. Caballero noble desbaratado: Autobiografía e invención en el siglo XVI [Noble Knight Disrupted: Autobiography and Invention in the Sixteenth Century] analyzes several first-person narratives from Spain and the conditions of their writing and reception. It focuses on the sixteenth-century Libro de la vida y costumbres [Book of life and customs] by Alonso Enríquez de Guzmán (1499-1547), the knight of the title. One chapter looks at antecedents to the central work: the late fourteenth-century Memorial by Leonor López de Córdoba, who narrates difficult passages of her life; the Breve suma de la vida y hechos [Brief Summary of the Life and Deeds] by Diego García de Paredes, who speaks of duels and battles as an object lesson in honor and courage for his son; and Cautiverio y trabajos [Captivity and Travails] by Diego Galán, a tale of captivity and flight in Muslim lands that constitutes an early example of fictionalized autobiography. The study also examines the influence of writers like Bartolomé de Torres Naharro, Antonio de Guevara, and Pedro Mexía and the vitality of lyric poetry on both sides of the Atlantic. Although the Biblioteca de Autores Españoles has devoted a volume to Enríquez de Guzmán, there has never been a book-length study dedicated to this author. This book fills that gap and constitutes a valuable contribution to the study of autobiography in Spanish.
Trauma Narrative and Social Action in Latin American Testimonio
As if in direct response to The New Yorker's question of “The Power of the Pen: Does Literature Change Anything?” Kimberly Nance takes up the relationship between ethics and literature. With the 40th anniversary of the testimonio occurring in 2006, there has never been a better time to reconsider its role in achieving social justice. The advent of the testimonio--loosely, a political autobiography of a Latin American activist who hopes, through the telling of her life story, to bring about change--was met with a great deal of excitement by scholars who posited it as a radical new form of literature. Those accolades were almost immediately followed by a series of critical problems. In what sense were testimonios "true"? What right did privileged scholars in the U.S. have to engage accounts of suffering with traditional modes of criticism? Were questions of veracity or aesthetics more important? Were these texts autobiography or political screeds? It seemed critics didn't know quite what to make of the testimonio and so, after a brief bout of engagement, disregarded it. Nance, however, argues that any form as prolific as the testimonio is well worth examining and that these questions, rather than being insurmountable, are exactly the questions with which scholars ought to be wrestling. If, as critics claim, that the testimonio is one of the most pervasive contemporary Latin American cultural genres, then it is high time for a comprehensive study of the genre such as Nance's.
The Literature of Latin America's Export Age
Between 1870 and 1930, Latin American countries were incorporated into global capitalist networks like never before, mainly as exporters of raw materials and importers of manufactured goods. During this Export Age, entire regions were given over to the cultivation of export commodities such as coffee and bananas, capital and labor were relocated to new production centers, and barriers to foreign investment were removed. Capital Fictions investigates the key role played by literature in imagining and interpreting the rapid transformations unleashed by Latin America’s first major wave of capitalist modernization.
Using an innovative blend of literary and economic analysis and drawing from a rich interdisciplinary archive, Ericka Beckman provides the first extended evaluation of Export Age literary production. She traces the emergence of a distinct set of fictions, fantasies, and illusions that accompanied the rise of export-led, dependent capitalism. These “capital fictions” range from promotional pamphlets for Guatemalan coffee and advertisements for French fashions, to novels about stock market collapse in Argentina and rubber extraction in the Amazon.
Beckman explores how Export Age literature anticipated some of the key contradictions faced by contemporary capitalist societies, including extreme financial volatility, vast social inequality, and ever-more-intense means of exploitation. Questioning the opposition between culture and economics in Latin America and elsewhere, Capital Fictions shows that literature operated as a powerful form of political economy during this period.
From the Plantation to the Postcolonial
Bringing together the most exciting recent archival work in anglophone, francophone, and hispanophone Caribbean studies, Raphael Dalleo constructs a new literary history of the region that is both comprehensive and innovative. He examines how changes in political, economic, and social structures have produced different sets of possibilities for writers to imagine their relationship to the institutions of the public sphere. In the process, he provides a new context for rereading such major writers as Mary Seacole, José Martí, Jacques Roumain, Claude McKay, Marie Chauvet, and George Lamming while also drawing lesser-known figures into the story. Dalleo’s comparative approach will be important to Caribbeanists from all of the region’s linguistic traditions, and his book contributes even more broadly to debates in Latin American and postcolonial studies about postmodernity and globalization.
Leisure Culture and the Middle Class
It is commonly assumed that Caribbean culture is split into elite highbrow culture-which is considered derivative of Europe and not rooted in the Caribbean-and authentic working-class culture, which is often identified with such iconic island activities as salsa, carnival, calypso, and reggae. In Caribbean Middlebrow, Belinda Edmondson recovers a middle ground, a genuine popular culture in the English-speaking Caribbean that stretches back into the nineteenth century.
Edmondson shows that popular novels, beauty pageants, and music festivals are examples of Caribbean culture that are mostly created, maintained, and consumed by the Anglophone middle class. Much of middle-class culture, she finds, is further gendered as "female": women are more apt to be considered recreational readers of fiction, for example, and women's behavior outside the home is often taken as a measure of their community's respectability.
Edmondson also highlights the influence of American popular culture, especially African American popular culture, as early as the nineteenth century. This is counter to the notion that the islands were exclusively under the sway of British tastes and trends. She finds the origins of today's "dub" or spoken-word Jamaican poetry in earlier traditions of genteel dialect poetry-as exemplified by the work of the Jamaican folklorist, actress, and poet Louise "Miss Lou" Bennett Coverley-and considers the impact of early Caribbean novels, including Emmanuel Appadocca (1853) and Jane's Career (1913).
Returning Medusa's Gaze
Maria Fumagalli argues that, like Medusa's stare that turns people to stone, the gaze of the North Atlantic freezes its "others" into a state of perpetual backwardness, ignoring what does not conform to the story it wants to tell about itself. Across a diversity of texts, genres, and media, she shows how the Caribbean articulates its refusal to succumb to Medusa's spell.