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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."
The Caribbean Postmodern Novel as Museum
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.
Puerto Rican Women Authors on the Island and the Mainland
Adopting a comparative and multidisciplinary approach to Puerto Rican literature, Marisel Moreno juxtaposes narratives by insular and U.S. Puerto Rican women authors in order to examine their convergences and divergences. By showing how these writers use the trope of family to question the tenets of racial and social harmony, an idealized past, and patriarchal authority that sustain the foundational myth of la gran familia, she argues that this metaphor constitutes an overlooked literary contact zone between narratives from both sides. Moreno proposes the recognition of a "transinsular" corpus to reflect the increasingly transnational character of the Puerto Rican population and addresses the need to broaden the literary canon in order to include the diaspora. Drawing on the fields of historiography, cultural studies, and gender studies, the author defies the tendency to examine these literary bodies independently of one another and therefore aims to present a more nuanced and holistic vision of this literature.
The Naturalist Prostitute and Her Avatars in Latin American Literature, 1880–2010
The first comprehensive and interdisciplinary study of the prostitute in Latin American literature, Claire Thora Solomon’s book The Naturalist Prostitute and Her Avatars in Latin American Literature, 1880–2010 shows the gender, ethnic, and racial identities that emerge in the literary figure of the prostitute during the consolidation of modern Latin American states in the late nineteenth century in the literary genre of Naturalism. Solomon first examines how legal, medical, and philosophical thought converged in Naturalist literature of prostitution. She then traces the persistence of these styles, themes, and stereotypes about women, sex, ethnicity, and race in the twentieth and twenty-first century literature with a particular emphasis on the historical fiction of prostitution and its selective reconstruction of the past. Fictions of the Bad Life illustrates how at very different moments—the turn of the twentieth century, the 1920s–30s, and finally the turn of the twenty-first century—the past is rewritten to accommodate contemporary desires for historical belonging and national identity, even as these efforts inevitably re-inscribe the repressed colonial history they wish to change.
The Mexican Novel, 1968, and the National-Popular State
The Mexican government's brutal repression of the Student Movement of 1968 in the infamous Massacre of Tlatelolco exposed and exacerbated a serious crisis of political legitimacy. This study examines the cultural impact of this watershed event through historically contextualized readings of five paradigmatic novels: Carlos Fuentes's La region mas transparente (1958), Fernando del Paso's Jose Trigo (1966), Maria Luisa Mendoza's Con el, conmigo, con nosotros tres (1971), Jorge Aguilar Mora's Si muero lejos de ti (1979), and Hector Aguilar Camin's Morir en el golfo (1986).
Ethics, Poetics, and Politics
In 2007 the French newspaper Le Monde published a manifesto titled “Toward a ‘World Literature’ in French,” signed by forty-four writers, many from France’s former colonies. Proclaiming that the francophone label encompassed people who had little in common besides the fact that they all spoke French, the manifesto’s proponents, the so-called francophone writers themselves, sought to energize a battle cry against the discriminatory effects and prescriptive claims of francophonie.
In one of the first books to study the movement away from the term “francophone” to “world literature in French,” Thérèse Migraine-George engages a literary analysis of contemporary works in exploring the tensions and theoretical debates surrounding world literature in French. She focuses on works by a diverse group of contemporary French-speaking writers who straddle continents—Nina Bouraoui, Hélène Cixous, Maryse Condé, Marie NDiaye, Tierno Monénembo, and Lyonel Trouillot. What these writers have in common beyond their use of French is their resistance to the centralizing power of a language, their rejection of exclusive definitions, and their claim for creative autonomy.
This study by Cristina Ferreira-Pinto explores the poetic and narrative strategies twentieth-century Brazilian women writers use to achieve new forms of representation of the female body, sexuality, and desire. Female writers discussed include: Gilka Machado, Lygia Fagundes Telles, Marcia Denser, and Marina Colasanti. While creating new forms, these writers are also deconstructing cultural myths of femininity and female behavior. In order to understand these myths, the book also presents new readings of some male-authored canonical novels by Jose de Alencar, Machado de Assis, Manuel Antonio de Almeida, and Aluisio Azevedo.
Literature and Politics in Latin America
The product of a unique collaboration between a literary critic (Van Delden) and a political scientist (Grenier), this book looks at the relationship between literature and politics in Latin America, a region where these two domains exist in closer proximity than perhaps anywhere else in the Western world. The apparently seamless blending of literature and politics is reflected in the explicitly political content of much of the continent's writing, as well as in the highly visible political roles played by many Latin American intellectuals.
Yet the authors of this book argue that the relationship between the two realms is much more complex and fraught with tension than is nowadays recognized. In examining these tensions, and in revealing the diverse ways in which literature and politics intersect in the Latin American cultural tradition, Gunshots at the Fiesta offers a lively challenge to the current tendency--especially strong in the U.S. academy--to read Latin American literature through a narrowly political prism.
The authors argue that one can only understand the nature of the dialogue between literature and politics if one begins by recognizing the different logics that operate in these different domains. Using this idea of the different logics of politics and literature as a guiding thread, Van Delden and Grenier offer bold new readings of major authors such as José Martí, Octavio Paz, Carlos Fuentes, Gabriel García Márquez, and Mario Vargas Llosa, as well as compelling interpretations of works by less-frequently-discussed figures such as Claribel Alegría, Marisol Martín del Campo and Víctor Hugo Rascón Banda.