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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.

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Libre Acceso

Latin American Literature and Film through Disability Studies

Analyzes the diverse roles and pervasive presence of disability in Latin American literature and film.

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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.

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The Limits of Identity

Politics and Poetics in Latin America

By Charles Hatfield

Ranging over works of literature, political theory, and cultural criticism from the nineteenth century to the twenty-first, this book offers a radical challenge to the theory of anti-universalism widely accepted in Latin American studies.

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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.

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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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Machado de Assis

Toward a Poetics of Emulation

João Cezar de Castro Rocha, translated by Flora Thomson-DeVeaux This book offers an alternative explanation for one of the core dilemmas of Brazilian literary criticism: the “midlife crisis” Machado de Assis underwent from 1878 to 1880, the result of which was the writing of The Posthumous Memoirs of Brás Cubas, as well as the remarkable production of his mature years—with an emphasis on his masterpiece, Dom Casmurro.

At the center of this alternative explanation, Castro Rocha situates the fallout from the success enjoyed by Eça de Queirós with the publication of Cousin Basílio and Machado’s two long texts condemning the author and his work. Literary and aesthetic rivalries come to the fore, allowing for a new theoretical framework based on a literary appropriation of “thick description,” the method proposed by anthropologist Clifford Geertz. From this method, Castro Rocha derives his key hypothesis: an unforeseen consequence of Machado’s reaction to Eça’s novel was a return to the classical notion of aemulatio, which led Machado to develop a “poetics of emulation.”

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Mainland Passage

The Cultural Anomaly of Puerto Rico

Ramón E. Soto-Crespo

One-third of the population of Puerto Rico moved to New York City during the mid-twentieth century. Since this massive migration, Puerto Rican literature and culture have grappled with an essential change in self-perception. Mainland Passage examines the history of that transformation, the political struggle over its representation, and the ways it has been imagined in Puerto Rico and in the work of Latina/o fiction writers. Ramón E. Soto-Crespo argues that the most significant consequence of this migration is the creation of a cultural and political borderland state. He intervenes in the Puerto Rico status debate to show that the two most discussed options—Puerto Rico’s becoming either a fully federated state of the United States or an independent nation—represent false alternatives, and he forcefully reasons that Puerto Rico should be recognized as an anomalous political entity that does not conform to categories of political belonging. Investigating a fundamental shift in the way Puerto Rican writers, politicians, and scholars have imagined their cultural identity, Mainland Passage demonstrates that Puerto Rico’s commonwealth status exemplifies a counterhegemonic logic and introduces a vital new approach to understanding Puerto Rican culture and history.

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The Man Who Wrote Pancho Villa

Martin Luis Guzman and the Politics of Life Writing

Nicholas Cifuentes-Goodbody

Martin Luis Guzman was many things throughout his career in twentieth-century Mexico: a soldier in Pancho Villa's revolutionary army, a journalist-in-exile, one of the most esteemed novelists and scholars of the revolutionary era, and an elder statesman and politician. In The Man Who Wrote Pancho Villa, we see the famous author as he really was: a careful craftsman of his own image and legacy. His five-volume biography of Villa propelled him to the heights of Mexican cultural life, and thus began his true life's work. Nicholas Cifuentes-Goodbody shapes this study of Guzman through the lens of "life writing" and uncovers a tireless effort by Guzman to shape his public image.


The Man Who Wrote Pancho Villa places Guzman's work in a biographical context, shedding light on the immediate motivations behind his writing in a given moment and the subsequent ways in which he rewrote or repackaged the material. Despite his efforts to establish a definitive reading of his life and literature, Guzman was unable to control that interpretation as audiences became less tolerant of the glaring omissions in his self-portrait.

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