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Women have always been the muses who inspire the creativity of men, but how do women become the creators of art themselves? This was the challenge faced by Latin American women who aspired to write in the 1920s and 1930s. Though women's roles were opening up during this time, women writers were not automatically welcomed by the Latin American literary avant-gardes, whose male members viewed women's participation in tertulias (literary gatherings) and publications as uncommon and even forbidding. How did Latin American women writers, celebrated by male writers as the “New Eve” but distrusted as fellow creators, find their intellectual homes and fashion their artistic missions? In this innovative book, Vicky Unruh explores how women writers of the vanguard period often gained access to literary life as public performers. Using a novel, interdisciplinary synthesis of performance theory, she shows how Latin American women's work in theatre, poetry declamation, song, dance, oration, witty display, and bold journalistic self-portraiture helped them craft their public personas as writers and shaped their singular forms of analytical thought, cultural critique, and literary style. Concentrating on eleven writers from Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, Mexico, Peru, and Venezuela, Unruh demonstrates that, as these women identified themselves as instigators of change rather than as passive muses, they unleashed penetrating critiques of projects for social and artistic modernization in Latin America.
Exploring the Self and the Environment
Drawing on narratives from Martinique by Aimé Césaire, Édouard Glissant, Ina Césaire, and Patrick Chamoiseau, among others, Christina Kullberg shows how these writers turn to ethnography—even as they critique it—as an exploration and expression of the self. They acknowledge its tradition as a colonial discourse and a study of others, but they also argue for ethnography’s advantage in connecting subjectivity to the outside world. Further, they find that ethnography offers the possibility of capturing within the hybrid culture of the Caribbean an emergent self that nonetheless remains attached to its collective history and environment. Rather than claiming to be able to represent the culture they also feel alienated from, these writers explore the relationships between themselves, the community, and the environment.
Although Kullberg’s focus is on Martinique, her work opens up possibilities for intertextual readings and comparative studies of writers from every linguistic region in the Caribbean—not only francophone but also Hispanic and anglophone. In addition, her interdisciplinary approach extends the reach of her work beyond postcolonial and literary studies to anthropology and ecocriticism.
Romantic Spain, Modern Europe, and the Legacies of Empire
Michael Iarocci traces the ways in which Spain went from being central to European history and identity during the early modern period to being marginalized and displaced by England, France, and Germany during the Romantic period. He points out that it has long been an unspoken assumption tainting much of literary criticism that Spain did not have a strong Romantic movement even though Spain itself had come to be viewed by the "new" Europe as the location of all that was romantic. Through a close study of Cadalso, Saavedra, and Larra, Iarocci argues that Spanish writers were intensely concerned with the same issues taken up by more famous Romantics and that the ways in which they address these issues provides us with a richer notion, not only of Spain, but of all of Europe.
Literatures of the Americas in the Nineteenth Century
As in many literatures of the New World grappling with issues of slavery and freedom, stories of racial insurrection frequently coincided with stories of cross-racial romance in nineteenth-century U.S. print culture. Colleen O’Brien explores how authors such as Harriet Jacobs, Elizabeth Livermore, and Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda imagined the expansion of race and gender-based rights as a hemispheric affair, drawing together the United States with Africa, Cuba, and other parts of the Caribbean. Placing less familiar women writers in conversation with their more famous contemporaries—Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, and Lydia Maria Child—O’Brien traces the transnational progress of freedom through the antebellum cultural fascination with cross-racial relationships and insurrections. Her book mines a variety of sources—fiction, political rhetoric, popular journalism, race science, and biblical treatises—to reveal a common concern: a future in which romance and rebellion engender radical social and political transformation.
In the wake of independence from Spain in 1898, Cuba's intellectual avant-garde struggled to cast their country as a modern nation. They grappled with the challenges presented by the postcolonial situation in general and with the location of blackness within a narrative of Cuban-ness in particular.
In this breakthrough study, Emily Maguire examines how a cadre of writers reimagined the nation and re-valorized Afro-Cuban culture through a textual production that incorporated elements of the ethnographic with the literary. Singling out the work of Lydia Cabrera as emblematic of the experimentation with genre that characterized the age, Maguire constructs a series of counterpoints that place Cabrera's work in dialogue with that of her Cuban contemporaries--including Fernando Ortiz, Nicolas Guillen, and Alejo Carpentier. An illuminating final chapter on Cabrera and Zora Neale Hurston widens the scope to contextualize Cuban texts within a hemispheric movement to represent black culture.
Feminism, Subjectivity, and the Angel of the House in the Latin American Novel, 1887–1903
In Rewriting Womanhood, Nancy LaGreca explores the subversive refigurings of womanhood in three novels by women writers: La hija del bandido (1887) by Refugio Barragán de Toscano (Mexico; 1846–1916), Blanca Sol (1888) by Mercedes Cabello de Carbonera (Peru; 1845–1909), and Luz y sombra (1903) by Ana Roqué (Puerto Rico; 1853–1933). While these women were both acclaimed and critiqued in their day, they have been largely overlooked by contemporary mainstream criticism. Detailed enough for experts yet accessible to undergraduates, graduate students, and the general reader, Rewriting Womanhood provides ample historical context for understanding the key women’s issues of nineteenth-century Mexico, Peru, and Puerto Rico; clear definitions of the psychoanalytic theories used to unearth the rewriting of the female self; and in-depth literary analyses of the feminine agency that Barragán, Cabello, and Roqué highlight in their fiction. Rewriting Womanhood reaffirms the value of three women novelists who wished to broaden the ruling-class definition of woman as mother and wife to include woman as individual for a modern era. As such, it is an important contribution to women’s studies, nineteenth-century Hispanic studies, and sexuality and gender studies.
Why are twentieth-century novelists from former British colonies in the Americas preoccupied with British Romantic poetry? In Romantic Revisions, Lauren Rule Maxwell examines five novels—Kincaid's Lucy, Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, McCarthy's Blood Meridian, Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, and Harris's Palace of the Peacock—that contain crucial scenes engaging British Romantic poetry. Each work adapts figures from British Romantic poetry and translates them into an American context. Kincaid relies on the repeated image of the daffodil, Atwood displaces Lucy, McCarthy upends the American arcadia, Fitzgerald heaps Keatsian images of excess, and Harris transforms the albatross.
Subalternity in the Backlands of Brazil
In the late nineteenth century, the Brazilian army staged several campaigns against the settlement of Canudos in northeastern Brazil. The colony’s residents followed a man known as Antonio Conselheiro (“the Counselor”), who promoted a communal existence free of taxes and oppression. To the fledgling republic of Brazil, the settlement represented a threat to its system of government. Estimates of the death toll range from fifteen thousand to thirty thousand. Sentencing Canudos presents an original perspective on the hegemonic intellectual discourse surrounding this monumental event in Brazilian history. Adriana Michele Campos Johnson offers a close examination of nation building and the silencing of other voices through the reinvisioning of history. Looking primarily to Euclides da Cunha’s Os Sertões, which has become the defining—and nearly exclusive—account of the conflict, she maintains that the events and people of Canudos have been sentenced to history by this work. Johnson investigates other accounts of Canudos such as local oral histories, letters, newspaper articles, and the writings of Cunha’s contemporaries in order to strip away political agendas.
Interrogating the Caribbean
This multi-disciplinary collection of essays draws on current anxieties about "legitimate" sexual identities and practices across the Caribbean to explore both the impact of globalization and the legacy of the region's history of sexual exploitation during colonialism and slavery.
Vol. 5 (2001) through current issue
Small Axe focuses on the renewal of practices of intellectual criticism. It recognizes a tradition of social, political, and cultural criticism in and about regional/disasporic Caribbean and honors that tradition but also argues with it because it is through such argument that a tradition renews itself.