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Literature > Latin American and Caribbean Literature

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Discarded Pages

Araceli Cab Cumí, Maya Poet and Politician

Kathleen Rock Martín

Discarded Pages is Cab Cumí's life narrative accompanied by her essays, poems, personal narratives, and political and public policy papers. Titled in honor of Cab Cumí's earliest writings which she had thrown away thinking them of little value, Discarded Pages showcases her expressions and thoughts within the context of her eventful and unusual life. In addition to translations of her work, Cab Cumí's original Spanish and Yucatec Maya writings are included in the book.

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Disturbers of the Peace

Representations of Madness in Anglophone Caribbean Literature

Kelly Baker Josephs

Exploring the prevalence of madness in Caribbean texts written in English in the mid-twentieth century, Kelly Baker Josephs focuses on celebrated writers such as Jean Rhys, V. S. Naipaul, and Derek Walcott as well as on understudied writers such as Sylvia Wynter and Erna Brodber. Because mad figures appear frequently in Caribbean literature from French, Spanish, and English traditions—in roles ranging from bit parts to first-person narrators—the author regards madness as a part of the West Indian literary aesthetic. The relatively condensed decolonization of the anglophone islands during the 1960s and 1970s, she argues, makes literature written in English during this time especially rich for an examination of the function of madness in literary critiques of colonialism and in the Caribbean project of nation-making.

In drawing connections between madness and literature, gender, and religion, this book speaks not only to the field of Caribbean studies but also to colonial and postcolonial literature in general. The volume closes with a study of twenty-first-century literature of the Caribbean diaspora, demonstrating that Caribbean writers still turn to representations of madness to depict their changing worlds.

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Dividing the Isthmus

Central American Transnational Histories, Literatures, and Cultures

By Ana Patricia Rodríguez

In 1899, the United Fruit Company (UFCO) was officially incorporated in Boston, Massachusetts, beginning an era of economic, diplomatic, and military interventions in Central America. This event marked the inception of the struggle for economic, political, and cultural autonomy in Central America as well as an era of homegrown inequities, injustices, and impunities to which Central Americans have responded in creative and critical ways. This juncture also set the conditions for the creation of the Transisthmus—a material, cultural, and symbolic site of vast intersections of people, products, and narratives. Taking 1899 as her point of departure, Ana Patricia Rodríguez offers a comprehensive, comparative, and meticulously researched book covering more than one hundred years, between 1899 and 2007, of modern cultural and literary production and modern empire-building in Central America. She examines the grand narratives of (anti)imperialism, revolution, subalternity, globalization, impunity, transnational migration, and diaspora, as well as other discursive, historical, and material configurations of the region beyond its geophysical and political confines. Focusing in particular on how the material productions and symbolic tropes of cacao, coffee, indigo, bananas, canals, waste, and transmigrant labor have shaped the transisthmian cultural and literary imaginaries, Rodríguez develops new methodological approaches for studying cultural production in Central America and its diasporas. Monumental in scope and relentlessly impassioned, this work offers new critical readings of Central American narratives and contributes to the growing field of Central American studies.

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Documents in Crisis

Nonfiction Literatures in Twentieth-Century Mexico

Examines the theory and practice of nonfiction narrative literature in twentieth-century Mexico. 'In the turbulent twentieth century, large numbers of Mexicans of all social classes faced crisis and catastrophe on a seemingly continuous basis. Revolution, earthquakes, industrial disasters, political and labor unrest, as well as indigenous insurgency placed extraordinary pressures on collective and individual identity. In contemporary literary studies, nonfiction literatures have received scant attention compared to the more supposedly “creative” practices of fictional narrative, poetry, and drama. In Documents in Crisis, Beth E. Jörgensen examines a selection of both canonical and lesser-known examples of narrative nonfiction that were written in response to these crises, including the autobiography, memoir, historical essay, testimony, chronicle, and ethnographic life narrative. She addresses the relative neglect of Mexican nonfiction in criticism and theory and demonstrates its continuing relevance for writers and readers who, in spite of the contemporary blurring of boundaries between fiction and nonfiction, remain fascinated by literatures of fact.

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Domesticating Empire

Enlightenment in Spanish America

Karen Stolley

Why has the work of writers in eighteenth-century Latin America been forgotten? During the eighteenth century, enlightened thinkers in Spanish territories in the Americas engaged in lively exchanges with their counterparts in Europe and Anglo-America about a wide range of topics of mutual interest, responding in the context of increasing racial and economic diversification. Yet despite recent efforts to broaden our understanding of the global Enlightenment, the Ibero-American eighteenth century has often been overlooked.


Through the work of five authors--Jose de Oviedo y Banos, Juan Ignacio Molina, Felix de Azara, Catalina de Jesus Herrera, and Felix de Arrate--Domesticating Empire explores the Ibero-American Enlightenment as a project that reflects both key Enlightenment concerns and the particular preoccupations of Bourbon Spain and its territories in the Americas. At a crucial moment in Spain's imperial trajectory, these authors domesticate topics central to empire--conquest, Indians, nature, God, and gold--by making them familiar and utilitarian. As a result, their works later proved resistant to overarching schemes of Latin American literary history and have been largely forgotten. Nevertheless, eighteenth-century Ibero-American writing complicates narratives about both the Enlightenment and Latin American cultural identity.

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Duvalier's Ghosts

Race, Diaspora, and U.S. Imperialism in Haitian Literatures

Jana Evans Braziel

From a position of urgent political engagement, this provocative book offers novel and compelling interpretations of several well-known Haitian-born authors, particularly regarding U.S. intervention in their homeland.

Drawing on the diasporic cultural texts of several authors, such as Edwidge Danticat and Dany Laferrière, Jana Evans Braziel examines how writers participate in transnational movements for global social justice. In their fictional works they discuss the Unites States’ many interventionist methods in Haiti, including surveillance, foreign aid, and military assistance. Through their work, they reveal that the majority of Haitians do not welcome these intrusions and actively criticize U.S. treatment of Haitians in both countries.

Braziel encourages us to analyze the instability and violence of small nations like Haiti within the larger frame of international financial and military institutions and forms of imperialism. She forcefully argues that by reading these works as anti-imperialist, much can be learned about why Haitians and Haitian exiles often have negative perceptions of the U.S.

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Early Spanish American Narrative

By Naomi Lindstrom

The world discovered Latin American literature in the twentieth century, but the roots of this rich literary tradition reach back beyond Columbus’s discovery of the New World. The great pre-Hispanic civilizations composed narrative accounts of the acts of gods and kings. Conquistadors and friars, as well as their Amerindian subjects, recorded the clash of cultures that followed the Spanish conquest. Three hundred years of colonization and the struggle for independence gave rise to a diverse body of literature—including the novel, which flourished in the second half of the nineteenth century. To give everyone interested in contemporary Spanish American fiction a broad understanding of its literary antecedents, this book offers an authoritative survey of four centuries of Spanish American narrative. Naomi Lindstrom begins with Amerindian narratives and moves forward chronologically through the conquest and colonial eras, the wars for independence, and the nineteenth century. She focuses on the trends and movements that characterized the development of prose narrative in Spanish America, with incisive discussions of representative works from each era. Her inclusion of women and Amerindian authors who have been downplayed in other survey works, as well as her overview of recent critical assessments of early Spanish American narratives, makes this book especially useful for college students and professors.

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Ecological Imaginations in Latin American Fiction

Laura Barbas-Rhoden

From the rainforests of Costa Rica and the Amazon to the windswept lands of Tierra del Fuego, Laura Barbas-Rhoden discusses the natural settings within contemporary Latin American novels as they depict key moments of environmental change or crisis in the region from the nineteenth-century imperialism to the present.

By integrating the use of futuristic novels, Barbas-Rhoden pushes the ecocriticism discussion beyond the realm of "nature writing." She avoids the clichés of literary nature and reminds readers that today’s urban centers are also part of Latin America and its environmental crisis.

One of the first writers to apply ecocriticism to Latin American fiction, Barbas-Rhoden argues that literature can offer readers a deeper understanding of the natural world and humanity’s place in it. She demonstrates that ecocritical readings of Latin American topics must take into account social, racial, and gender injustices. She also addresses postapocalyptic science fiction that speaks to a fear of environmental collapse and reminds North American readers that the environments of Latin America are rich and diverse, encompassing both rural and urban extremes.

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Elusive Origins

The Enlightenment in the Modern Caribbean Historical Imagination

Kant's definition of the Enlightenment as an emergence of humanity from its self-incurred immaturity begs a number of questions, argues Paul Miller, when seen through the lens of the modern Caribbean historical imagination. It yields a set of structural paradoxes that trap the Caribbean writer in the binary tensions of center/periphery, master/slave, leaders/masses, rendering the origins of the Caribbean's own modernity "elusive."

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Exhibiting Slavery

The Caribbean Postmodern Novel as Museum

Vivian Nun Halloran

In a strikingly interdisciplinary and multilingual analysis of Caribbean postmodern historical novels about slavery alongside museum exhibitions about slavery throughout the Caribbean and the US, Vivian Halloran shows how the novels as well as the exhibits seek to educate their audiences about reconstructing the past from fragmented evidence and relating historical memory and collective mourning in the creation of narratives about that past. The literary and museum portrayals work together in confronting the trauma of slavery in much the same way as Holocaust memorials, fiction, and film confront the trauma of genocide.

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