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Literature > Latin American and Caribbean Literature

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The Legacy of Christopher Columbus in the Americas Cover

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The Legacy of Christopher Columbus in the Americas

New Nations and a Transatlantic Discourse of Empire

Elise Bartosik-Velez

Why is the capital of the United States named in part after Christopher Columbus, a Genoese explorer commissioned by Spain who never set foot on what would become the nation's mainland? Why did Spanish American nationalists in 1819 name a new independent republic "Colombia," after Columbus, the first representative of empire from which they recently broke free? These are only two of the introductory questions explored in The Legacy of Christopher Columbus in the Americas, a fundamental recasting of Columbus as an eminently powerful tool in imperial constructs.


Bartosik-Velez seeks to explain the meaning of Christopher Columbus throughout the so-called New World, first in the British American colonies and the United States, as well as in Spanish America, during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. She argues that, during the pre- and post-revolutionary periods, New World societies commonly imagined themselves as legitimate and powerful independent political entities by comparing themselves to the classical empires of Greece and Rome. Columbus, who had been construed as a figure of empire for centuries, fit perfectly into that framework. By adopting him as a national symbol, New World nationalists appeal to Old World notions of empire.

Life in Search of Readers Cover

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Life in Search of Readers

Reading (in) Chicano/a Literature

Manuel M. Martín-Rodríguez

Martín-Rodríguez begins this writing with an examination of the Chicano movement of the 1960s and 1970s, when the creation of Chicano-owned or controlled publishing enterprises made possible a surge of Chicano/a literature at the national level. He then concentrates on Chicana literature and "engendering" the reader and on linguistic and marketing strategies for a multicultural readership. Finally, Martín-Rodríguez provides a very thorough list of Chicano/a literature which he studied and he recommends for the reader to consider.

Locating the Destitute Cover

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Locating the Destitute

Space and Identity in Caribbean Fiction

Stanka Radović

While postcolonial discourse in the Caribbean has drawn attention to colonialism’s impact on space and spatial hierarchy, Stanka Radović asks both how ordinary people as "users" of space have been excluded from active and autonomous participation in shaping their daily spatial reality and how they challenge this exclusion. In a comparative interdisciplinary reading of anglophone and francophone Caribbean literature and contemporary spatial theory, she focuses on the house as a literary figure and the ways that fiction and acts of storytelling resist the oppressive hierarchies of colonial and neocolonial domination. The author engages with the theories of Henri Lefebvre, Michel Foucault, and contemporary critical geographers, in addition to selected fiction by V. S. Naipaul, Patrick Chamoiseau, Beryl Gilroy, and Rafaël Confiant, to examine the novelists’ construction of narrative "houses" to reclaim not only actual or imaginary places but also the very conditions of self-representation.

Radović ultimately argues for the power of literary imagination to contest the limitations of geopolitical boundaries by emphasizing space and place as fundamental to our understanding of social and political identity. The physical places described in these texts crystallize the protagonists’ ambiguous and complex relationship to the New World. Space is, then, as the author shows, both a political fact and a powerful metaphor whose imaginary potential continually challenges its material limitations.

Love and Politics in the Contemporary Spanish American Novel Cover

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Love and Politics in the Contemporary Spanish American Novel

By Aníbal González

The Latin American Literary Boom was marked by complex novels steeped in magical realism and questions of nationalism, often with themes of surreal violence. In recent years, however, those revolutionary projects of the sixties and seventies have given way to quite a different narrative vision and ideology. Dubbed the new sentimentalism, this trend is now keenly elucidated in Love and Politics in the Contemporary Spanish American Novel. Offering a rich account of the rise of this new mode, as well as its political and cultural implications, Aníbal González delivers a close reading of novels by Miguel Barnet, Elena Poniatowska, Isabel Allende, Alfredo Bryce Echenique, Gabriel García Márquez, Antonio Skármeta, Luis Rafael Sánchez, and others. González proposes that new sentimental novels are inspired principally by a desire to heal the division, rancor, and fear produced by decades of social and political upheaval. Valuing pop culture above the avant-garde, such works also tend to celebrate agape—the love of one’s neighbor—while denouncing the negative effects of passion (eros). Illuminating these and other aspects of post-Boom prose, Love and Politics in the Contemporary Spanish American Novel takes a fresh look at contemporary works.

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Machado de Assis, the Brazilian Pyrrhonian

by José Raimundo Maia Neto

Machado de Assis (1839-1908) is Brazil's greatest writer and the most important Latin American writer of the nineteenth century. His subtle criticism of cherished institutions is evident to all readers, and critics have often mentioned his skepticism. In Machado de Assis, the Brazilian Pyrrhonian, however, a philosopher seriously examines Machado's philosophical position for the first time. Jose' Raimundo Maia Neto traces Machado's particular brand of skepticism to that of the ancient philosopher Pyrrho of Elis and reveals the sources through which he inherited that line of thought. He then shows how Machado's own philosophical development follows the stages proposed by Pyrrho for the development of a skeptical worldview.

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Masculinity after Trujillo

The Politics of Gender in Dominican Literature

Maja Horn

Any observer of Dominican political and literary discourse will quickly notice how certain notions of hyper-masculinity permeate the culture. Many critics will attribute this to an outgrowth of "traditional" Latin American patriarchal culture. Masculinity after Trujillo demonstrates why they are mistaken.

In this extraordinary work, Maja Horn argues that this common Dominican attitude became ingrained during the dictatorship (1930-61) of Rafael Leonidas Trujillo, as well as through the U.S. military occupation that preceded it. Where previous studies have focused mainly on Spanish colonialism and the controversial sharing of the island with Haiti, Horn emphasizes the underexamined and lasting influence of U.S. imperialism and how it prepared the terrain for Trujillo’s hyperbolic language of masculinity. She also demonstrates how later attempts to emasculate the image of Trujillo often reproduced the same masculinist ideology popularized by his government.

By using the lens of gender politics, Horn enables readers to reconsider the ongoing legacy of the Trujillato, including the relatively weak social movements formed around racial and ethnic identities, sexuality, and even labor. She offers exciting new interpretations of such writers as Hilma Contreras, Rita Indiana Hernández, and Junot Díaz, revealing the ways they successfully challenge dominant political and canonical literary discourses.

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Narrating Narcos

Culiacán and Medellín

by Gabriela Polit Dueñas

Critical examination of cultural works as windows into the symbolic dimensions and representations of the narcotics world in Culiacán, Mexico, and Medellín, Colombia, two of the most notorious drug-producing areas of the Americas. Through text analyses, ethnographic fieldwork, and archival research, Polit Dueñas examines the impact and representation of new codes of ethics and morals associated with the drug trade. The analysis is a comparative view of the emerging forms in which fiction writers and artists represent violence and the culture of violence associated with narcotrafficking (both within and across class, racial, ethnic, gender, and generational lines) in both cities.

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Nation Dance

Religion, Identity, and Cultural Difference in the Caribbean

Edited by Patrick Taylor

Nation Dance
Religion, Identity, and Cultural Difference in the Caribbean

Edited by Patrick Taylor

Addresses the interplay of diverse spiritual, religious, and cultural traditions across the Caribbean.

Dealing with the ongoing interaction of rich and diverse cultural traditions from Cuba and Jamaica to Guyana and Surinam, Nation Dance addresses some of the major contemporary issues in the study of Caribbean religion and identity. The book's three sections move from a focus on spirituality and healing, to theology in social and political context, and on to questions of identity and diaspora.

The book begins with the voices of female practitioners and then offers a broad, interdisciplinary examination of Caribbean religion and culture. Afro-Caribbean religions, Hinduism, Judaism, Islam, and Christianity are all addressed, with specific reflections on Santería, Palo Monte, Vodou, Winti, Obeah, Kali Mai, Orisha work, Spiritual Baptist faith, Spiritualism, Rastafari, Confucianism, Congregationalism, Pentecostalism, Catholicism, and liberation theology. Some essays are based on fieldwork, archival research, and textual or linguistic analysis, while others are concerned with methodological or theoretical issues. Contributors include practitioners and scholars, some very established in the field, others with fresh, new approaches; all of them come from the region or have done extensive fieldwork or research there. In these essays the poetic vitality of the practitioner's voice meets the attentive commitment of the postcolonial scholar in a dance of "nations" across the waters.

Patrick Taylor, Associate Professor in the Division of Humanities and in the Graduate Programme in Social and Political Thought at York University, Toronto, is past Deputy Director of the Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean and Editor-in-Chief of the Caribbean Religions Project. He is author of The Narrative of Liberation: Perspectives on Afro-Caribbean Literature, Popular Culture and Politics and co-editor of Forging Identities and Patterns of Development in Latin America and the Caribbean. His articles have appeared in Callaloo, Studies in Religion, and other scholarly journals and books.

May 2001
224 pages, 1 b&w photo, 1 map, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4, bibl., index
cloth 0-253-33835-2 $39.95 L /

New Spain, New Literatures Cover

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New Spain, New Literatures

Edited by Luis Martín-Estudillo and Nicholas Spadaccini

This volume, which includes essays on Catalonia, the Basque country, Galicia, and literature written by African immigrants, focuses on issues of "difference" that are at the center of current debates in Spain and elsewhere--the emergence of minoritized literatures, multilingualism and identity, new relationships between culture and institutions, the negotiation of historical memories, the connections between migrations and the redefinition of nationhood, and the impact of global trends on local symbolic systems.

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New World Poetics

Nature and the Adamic Imagination of Whitman, Neruda, and Walcott

George B. Handley

A simultaneously ecocritical and comparative study, New World Poetics plumbs the earthly depth and social breadth of the poetry of Walt Whitman, Pablo Neruda, and Derek Walcott, three of the Americas' most ambitious and epic-minded poets. In Whitman's call for a poetry of New World possibility, Neruda's invocation of an "American love," and Walcott's investment in the poetic ironies of an American epic, the adamic imagination of their poetry does not reinvent the mythical Garden that stands before history's beginnings but instead taps the foundational powers of language before a natural world deeply imbued with the traces of human time. Theirs is a postlapsarian Adam seeking a renewed sense of place in a biocentric and cross-cultural New World through language and nature's capacity for regeneration in the wake of human violence and suffering.

The book introduces the environmental history of the Americas and its relationship to the foundation of American and Latin American studies, explores its relevance to each poet's ambition to recuperate the New World's lost histories, and provides a transnational poetics of understanding literary influence and textual simultaneity in the Americas. The study provides much needed in-depth ecocritical readings of the major poems of the three poets, insisting on the need for thoughtful regard for the challenge to human imagination and culture posed by nature's regenerative powers; nuanced appreciation for the difficulty of balancing the demands of social justice within the context of deep time; and the symptomatic dangers as well as healing potential of human self-consciousness in light of global environmental degradation.

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