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Literature > Latin American and Caribbean Literature

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Borges, Second Edition

The Passion of an Endless Quotation

Lisa Block de Behar

Expanded edition with new chapters and updates to the translation and bibliography.

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Brazil, Lyric, and the Americas

Charles A. Perrone

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.

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Broken Souths

Latina/o Poetic Responses to Neoliberalism and Globalization

Michael Dowdy

Broken Souths offers the first in-depth study of the diverse field of contemporary Latina/o poetry. Its innovative angle of approach puts Latina/o and Latin American poets into sustained conversation in original and rewarding ways. In addition, author Michael Dowdy presents ecocritical readings that foreground the environmental dimensions of current Latina/o poetics.
 
Dowdy argues that a transnational Latina/o imaginary has emerged in response to neoliberalism—the free-market philosophy that underpins what many in the northern hemisphere refer to as “globalization.” His work examines how poets represent the places that have been “broken” by globalization’s political, economic, and environmental upheavals. Broken Souths locates the roots of the new imaginary in 1968, when the Mexican student movement crested and the Chicano and Nuyorican movements emerged in the United States. It theorizes that Latina/o poetics negotiates tensions between the late 1960s’ oppositional, collective identities and the present day’s radical individualisms and discourses of assimilation, including the “post-colonial,” “post-national,” and “post-revolutionary.” Dowdy is particularly interested in how Latina/o poetics reframes debates in cultural studies and critical geography on the relation between place, space, and nature.
 
Broken Souths features discussions of Latina/o writers such as Victor Hernández Cruz, Martín Espada, Juan Felipe Herrera, Guillermo Verdecchia, Marcos McPeek Villatoro, Maurice Kilwein Guevara, Judith Ortiz Cofer, Jack Agüeros, Marjorie Agosín, Valerie Martínez, and Ariel Dorfman, alongside discussions of influential Latin American writers, including Roberto Bolaño, Ernesto Cardenal, David Huerta, José Emilio Pacheco, and Raúl Zurita.

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Buenas Noches, American Culture

Latina/o Aesthetics of Night

María DeGuzmán

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.

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Caballero noble desbaratado

Autobiografía e invención en el siglo XVI

by José Luis Gastañaga Ponce de León

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.

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Calypso Magnolia

The Crosscurrents of Caribbean and Southern Literature

John W. Lowe

In this far-reaching literary history, John Wharton Lowe remakes the map of American culture by revealing the deep, persistent connections between the ideas and works produced by writers of the American South and the Caribbean. Lowe demonstrates that a tendency to separate literary canons by national and regional boundaries has led critics to ignore deep ties across highly permeable borders. Focusing on writers and literatures from the Deep South and Gulf states in relation to places including Mexico, Haiti, and Cuba, Lowe reconfigures the geography of southern literature as encompassing the "circumCaribbean," a dynamic framework within which to reconsider literary history, genre, and aesthetics.

Considering thematic concerns such as race, migration, forced exile, and colonial and postcolonial identity, Lowe contends that southern literature and culture have always transcended the physical and political boundaries of the American South. Lowe uses cross-cultural readings of nineteenth- and twentieth-century writers, including William Faulkner, Martin Delany, Zora Neale Hurston, George Lamming, Cristina Garcia, Edouard Glissant, and Madison Smartt Bell, among many others, to make his argument. These literary figures, Lowe argues, help us uncover new ways of thinking about the shared culture of the South and Caribbean while demonstrating that southern literature has roots even farther south than we realize.

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Can Literature Promote Justice?

Trauma Narrative and Social Action in Latin American Testimonio

Kimberly A. Nance

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.

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Cannibal Writes

Eating Others in Caribbean and Indian Ocean Women's Writing

Njeri Githire

Postcolonial and diaspora studies scholars and critics have paid increasing attention to the use of metaphors of food, eating, digestion, and various affiliated actions such as loss of appetite, indigestion, and regurgitation. As such stylistic devices proliferated in the works of non-Western women writers, scholars connected metaphors of eating and consumption to colonial and imperial domination. In Cannibal Writes , Njeri Githire concentrates on the gendered and sexualized dimensions of these visceral metaphors of consumption in works by women writers from Haiti, Jamaica, Mauritius, and elsewhere. Employing theoretical analysis and insightful readings of English- and French-language texts, she explores the prominence of alimentary-related tropes and their relationship to sexual consumption, writing, global geopolitics and economic dynamics, and migration. As she shows, the use of cannibalism in particular as a central motif opens up privileged modes for mediating historical and sociopolitical issues. Ambitiously comparative, Cannibal Writes ranges across the works of well-known and lesser known writers to tie together two geographic and cultural spaces that have much in common but are seldom studied in parallel.

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Capital Fictions

The Literature of Latin America's Export Age

Ericka Beckman

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.

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Caribbean Literary Discourse

Voice and Cultural Identity in the Anglophone Caribbean

Caribbean Literary Discourse is a study of the multicultural, multilingual, and Creolized languages that characterize Caribbean discourse, especially as reflected in the language choices that preoccupy creative writers.

Caribbean Literary Discourse
opens the challenging world of language choices and literary experiments characteristic of the multicultural and multilingual Caribbean. In these societies, the language of the master— English in Jamaica and Barbados—overlies the Creole languages of the majority. As literary critics and as creative writers, Barbara Lalla, Jean D’Costa, and Velma Pollard engage historical, linguistic, and literary perspectives to investigate the literature bred by this complex history. They trace the rise of local languages and literatures within the English speaking Caribbean, especially as reflected in the language choices of creative writers.

The study engages two problems: first, the historical reality that standard metropolitan English established by British colonialists dominates official economic, cultural, and political affairs in these former colonies, contesting the development of vernacular, Creole, and pidgin dialects even among the region’s indigenous population; and second, the fact that literary discourse developed under such conditions has received scant attention.

Caribbean Literary Discourse
explores the language choices that preoccupy creative writers in whose work vernacular discourse displays its multiplicity of origins, its elusive boundaries, and its most vexing issues. The authors address the degree to which language choice highlights political loyalties and tensions; the politics of identity, self-representation, and nationalism; the implications of code-switching—the ability to alternate deliberately between different languages, accents, or dialects—for identity in postcolonial society; the rich rhetorical and literary effects enabled by code-switching and the difficulties of acknowledging or teaching those ranges in traditional education systems; the longstanding interplay between oral and scribal culture; and the predominance of intertextuality in postcolonial and diasporic literature.

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