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Murder as Art in Modern Mexico
Violence as a way of life, and murder as a political tool. This philosophy is nothing new to Mexico, most recently demonstrated in the wave of assassination and indiscriminate killing brought on by the drug war gripping the country. In Artful Assassins, author and scholar Fernando Fabio Sánchez unveils the long record of violence inspiring artistic expression in Mexico, focusing on its use and portrayal in film and literature. Sánchez is uniquely positioned to explore this topic, through his work as a novelist and poet in Mexico before entering academia in the United States. Sanchez argues that the seemingly hopeless cycle of violence experienced by Mexico in the 20th century, as reflected in its "crime genre," reveals a broader intrinsic cultural and political failure that suggests grave implications for the current state of crisis. Tracing the development of a national Mexican identity from the 1910 Mexican Revolution onward, Sánchez focuses on the indelible presence of violence and crime underlying the major works that contributed to a larger communal narrative. Artful Assassins ultimately offers a panoramic overview of the evolution of Mexican arts and letters, as well as nationalism, by claiming murder and assassination as literary and cinematic motifs. The collapse of post-revolutionary political unity was presaged all along in Mexican culture, Sanchez argues. It need only to have been sought in the art of the nation.
Carlos de Siguenza y Gongora and the Creole Archive of Colonial Mexico
In the seventeenth century, even as the Spanish Habsburg monarchy entered its irreversible decline, the capital of its most important overseas territory was flourishing. Nexus of both Atlantic and Pacific trade routes and home to an ethnically diverse population, Mexico City produced a distinctive Baroque culture that combined local and European influences. In this context, the American-born descendants of European immigrants—or creoles, as they called themselves—began to envision a new society beyond the terms of Spanish imperialism, and the writings of the Mexican polymath Carlos de Sigüenza y Góngora (1645-1700) were instrumental in this process. Mathematician, antiquarian, poet, and secular priest, Sigüenza authored works on such topics as the 1680 comet, the defense of New Spain, pre-Columbian history, and the massive 1692 Mexico City riot. He wrote all of these, in his words, "out of love for my patria."
Through readings of Sigüenza y Góngora's diverse works, Baroque Sovereignty locates the colonial Baroque at the crossroads of a conflicted Spanish imperial rule and the political imaginary of an emergent local elite. Arguing that Spanish imperialism was founded on an ideal of Christian conversion no longer applicable at the end of the seventeenth century, More discovers in Sigüenza y Góngora's works an alternative basis for local governance. The creole archive, understood as both the collection of local artifacts and their interpretation, solved the intractable problem of Spanish imperial sovereignty by establishing a material genealogy and authority for New Spain's creole elite. In an analysis that contributes substantially to early modern colonial studies and theories of memory and knowledge, More posits the centrality of the creole archive for understanding how a local political imaginary emerged from the ruins of Spanish imperialism.
The Making of a Puerto Rican Icon
In the first book-length study written in English, Vanessa Perez-Rosario examines poet and political activist Julia de Burgos's development as a writer, her experience of migration, and her legacy in New York City. Perez-Rosario situates de Burgos as part of a transitional generation that helps to bridge the historical divide between Puerto Rican nationalist writers of the 1930s and the Nuyorican writers of the 1970s. Focusing on the poet's contributions to New York Latino/a literary and visual culture, she moves beyond the tragedy-centered narratives of de Burgos's life to examine her place within a nuanced historical understanding of Puerto Rico's peoples and culture. Perez-Rosario unravels the cultural and political dynamics at work when contemporary Latina/o writers and artists in New York revise, reinvent, and riff off of Julia de Burgos as they imagine new possibilities for themselves and their communities.
Poetry and Performance in Spanish America
Rethinking Postwar Anglophone Caribbean Literature
This edited collection challenges a long sacrosanct paradigm. Since the establishment of Caribbean literary studies, scholars have exalted an elite cohort of émigré novelists based in postwar London, a group often referred to as “the Windrush writers” in tribute to the SS Empire Windrush, whose 1948 voyage from Jamaica inaugurated large-scale Caribbean migration to London. In critical accounts this group is typically reduced to the canonical troika of V. S. Naipaul, George Lamming, and Sam Selvon, effectively treating these three authors as the tradition’s founding fathers. These “founders” have been properly celebrated for producing a complex, anticolonial, nationalist literature. However, their canonization has obscured the great diversity of postwar Caribbean writers, producing an enduring but narrow definition of West Indian literature.
Beyond Windrush stands out as the first book to reexamine and redefine the writing of this crucial era. Its fourteen original essays make clear that in the 1950s there was already a wide spectrum of West Indian men and women—Afro-Caribbean, Indo-Caribbean, and white-creole—who were writing, publishing, and even painting. Many lived in the Caribbean and North America, rather than London. Moreover, these writers addressed subjects overlooked in the more conventionally conceived canon, including topics such as queer sexuality and the environment. This collection offers new readings of canonical authors (Lamming, Roger Mais, and Andrew Salkey); hitherto marginalized authors (Ismith Khan, Elma Napier, and John Hearne); and commonly ignored genres (memoir, short stories, and journalism).
Imagine the tension that existed between the emerging nations and governments throughout the Latin American world and the cultural life of former enslaved Africans and their descendants. A world of cultural production, in the form of literature, poetry, art, music, and eventually film, would often simultaneously contravene or cooperate with the newly established order of Latin American nations negotiating independence and a new political and cultural balance. In Black Writing, Culture, and the State in Latin America, Jerome Branche presents the reader with the complex landscape of art and literature among Afro-Hispanic and Latin artists. Branche and his contributors describe individuals such as Juan Francisco Manzano, who wrote an antislavery novel in Cuba during the nineteenth century. The reader finds a thriving Afro-Hispanic theatrical presence throughout Latin America and even across the Atlantic. The role of black women in poetry and literature comes to the forefront in the Caribbean, presenting a powerful reminder of the diversity that defines the region.
All too often, the disciplines of film studies, literary criticism, and art history ignore the opportunity to collaborate in a dialogue. Branche and his contributors present a unified approach, however, suggesting that cultural production should not be viewed narrowly, especially when studying the achievements of the Afro-Latin world.
Sexual Culture in Contemporary Brazil, Second Edition
Originally published in the early 1990s, Bodies, Pleasures, and Passions quickly became a classic ethnographic study of the social, cultural and historical construction of sexuality and sexual diversity. Drawing on extensive field research and interviews, together with the analysis of historical and literary texts, anthropologist Richard Parker mapped out the multiple cultural systems that structure gender, sexuality, and erotic practices in Brazil, and helped to open up a new wave of social science research on sexuality. Using ethnographic methods focusing on sexual meanings as an alternative to traditional surveys of sexual behavior, Parker argues that sexual life can only be fully understood through an analysis of the cultural logics that shape experience. Drawing on the tradition of interpretive anthropology, he focuses on the diverse sexual scripts that have been articulated in Brazilian culture and examines the often contradictory ways in which these scripts shape the sexual experience of different individuals. He highlights the sexual socialization of children and young people, and the changing sexual realities of adults living in a rapidly changing world. He underlines the ways in which complex cultural forms such as carnaval can be understood as stories that Brazilians tell themselves about themselves and about the meaning of sexuality in contemporary Brazilian life. The 1991 book was the winner of the Ruth Benedict Prize from the Society of Lesbian and Gay Anthropologists.
Masculinities in Contemporary Latin American Fiction
A Guide to His Mind and Art, A Revised Edition
Since its first publication in 1981, Borges and His Fiction has introduced the life and works of this Argentinian master-writer to an entire generation of students, high school and college teachers, and general readers. Responding to a steady demand for an updated edition, Gene H. Bell-Villada has significantly revised and expanded the book to incorporate new information that has become available since Borges’ death in 1986. In particular, he offers a more complete look at Borges and Peronism and Borges’ personal experiences of love and mysticism, as well as revised interpretations of some of Borges’ stories. As before, the book is divided into three sections that examine Borges’ life, his stories in Ficciones and El Aleph, and his place in world literature.