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Literature > Latin American and Caribbean Literature

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Journeys of the Slave Narrative in the Early Americas

Edited by Nicole N. Aljoe and Ian Finseth

Focusing on slave narratives from the Atlantic world of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, this interdisciplinary collection of essays suggests the importance—even the necessity—of looking beyond the iconic and ubiquitous works of Olaudah Equiano, Frederick Douglass, and Harriet Jacobs. In granting sustained critical attention to writers such as Briton Hammon, Omar Ibn Said, Juan Francisco Manzano, Nat Turner, and Venture Smith, among others, this book makes a crucial contribution not only to scholarship on the slave narrative but also to our understanding of early African American and Black Atlantic literature.

The essays explore the social and cultural contexts, the aesthetic and rhetorical techniques, and the political and ideological features of these noncanonical texts. By concentrating on earlier slave narratives not only from the United States but from the Caribbean, South America, and Latin America as well, the volume highlights the inherent transnationality of the genre, illuminating its complex cultural origins and global circulation.

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Jungle Fever

Exploring Madness and Medicine in Twentieth-Century Tropical Narratives

Charlotte Rogers

The sinister "jungle"that illdefined and amorphous place where civilization has no foothold and survival is always in doubtis the terrifying setting for countless works of the imagination. Films like Apocalypse Now, television shows like Lost, and of course stories like Heart of Darkness all pursue the essential question of why the unknown world terrifies adventurer and spectator alike. In Jungle Fever, Charlotte Rogers goes deep into five books that first defined the jungle as a violent and maddening place. The reader finds urban explorers venturing into the wilderness, encountering and living among the "native" inhabitants, and eventually losing their minds.

The canonical works of authors such as Joseph Conrad, Andre Malraux, Jose Eustasio Rivera, and others present jungles and wildernesses as fundamentally corrupting and dangerous. Rogers explores how the methods these authors use to communicate the physical and psychological maladies that afflict their characters evolved symbiotically with modern medicine. While the wilderness challenges Conrad's and Malraux's European travelers to question their civility and mental stability, Latin American authors such as Alejo Carpentier deftly turn pseudoscientific theories into their greatest asset, as their characters transform madness into an essential creative spark.

Ultimately, Jungle Fever suggests that the greatest horror of the jungle is the unknown regions of the character's own mind.

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Kant's Dog

On Borges, Philosophy, and the Time of Translation

Situates Borges at the limit of philosophy and literature.

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The Learned Ones

Nahua Intellectuals in Postconquest Mexico

Kelly S. McDonough

They were the healers, teachers, and writers, the “wise ones” of Nahuatl-speaking cultures in Mexico, remembered in painted codices and early colonial manuscripts of Mesoamerica as the guardians of knowledge. Yet they very often seem bound to an unrecoverable past, as stereotypes prevent some from linking the words “indigenous” and “intellectual” together.

Not so, according to author Kelly S. McDonough, at least not for native speakers of Nahuatl, one of the most widely spoken and best-documented indigenous languages of the Americas. This book focuses on how Nahuas have been deeply engaged with the written word ever since the introduction of the Roman alphabet in the early sixteenth century. Dipping into distinct time periods of the past five hundred years, this broad perspective allows McDonough to show the heterogeneity of Nahua knowledge and writing as Nahuas took up the pen as agents of their own discourses and agendas.

McDonough worked collaboratively with contemporary Nahua researchers and students, reconnecting the theorization of a population with the population itself. The Learned Ones describes the experience of reading historic text with native speakers today, some encountering Nahua intellectuals and their writing for the very first time.  It intertwines the written word with oral traditions and embodied knowledge, aiming to retie the strand of alphabetic writing to the dynamic trajectory of Nahua intellectual work.

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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

Susan Antebi

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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Literature and "Interregnum"

Globalization, War, and the Crisis of Sovereignty in Latin America

Examines literary responses to the impact of economic and technological globalization in Latin America.

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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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