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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.
Perspectives on the City and Cultural Production
David Foster brings an intense curiosity and lifelong familiarity to this unique examination of the cultural tapestry of São Paulo, the largest city in South America and the second largest in Latin America.
Examining everything from the poetics of Mário de Andrade to the Eisner Award–winning graphic novels of Fabio Moon and Gabriel Bá, Foster paints a portrait as colorful and multifaceted as the city it reveals. He offers representative examples of poetry, fiction, graphic art, photography, film, and social commentary to introduce readers to some of the most important cultural dimensions of the city as well as some of its most outstanding writers and artists.
Foster selects his featured artists and works with care and precision in order to reveal insights into the development of the city throughout the twentieth century. This is a tour-de-force overview of the cultural output of one of the world’s great urban centers, one that future researchers on Brazilian culture will ignore at their peril.
African American and Caribbean Routes of World Literature
The idea of "world literature" has served as a crucial though underappreciated interlocutor for African diasporic writers, informing their involvement in processes of circulation, translation, and revision that have been identified as the hallmarks of the contemporary era of world literature. Yet in spite of their participation in world systems before and after European hegemony, Africa and the African diaspora have been excluded from the networks and archives of world literature. In Sounding the Break, Jason Frydman attempts to redress this exclusion by drawing on historiography, ethnography, and archival sources to show how writers such as W. E. B. Du Bois, Zora Neale Hurston, Alejo Carpentier, Derek Walcott, Maryse Condé, and Toni Morrison have complicated both Eurocentric and Afrocentric categories of literary and cultural production. Through their engagement with and revision of the European world literature discourse, he contends, these writers conjure a deep history of "literary traffic" whose expressions are always already cosmopolitan, embedded in the long histories of cultural and economic exchange between Africa, Asia, and Europe. It is precisely the New World American location of these writers, Frydman concludes, that makes possible this revisionary perspective on the idea of (Old) World literature.
The Spectacular City, Mexico, and Colonial Hispanic Literary Culture tracks the three spectacular forces of New World literary culture—cities, festivals, and wonder—from the sixteenth to the seventeenth century, from the Old World to the New, and from Mexico to Colombia, Peru, and Bolivia. It treats a multitude of imperialist and anti-imperialist texts in depth, including poetry, drama, protofiction, historiography, and journalism. While several of the landmark authors studied, including Hernán Cortés and Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, are familiar, others have received remarkably little critical attention. Similarly, in spotlighting creole writers, Merrim reveals an intertextual tradition in Mexico that spans two centuries. Because the spectacular city reaches its peak in the seventeenth century, Merrim’s book also theorizes and details the spirited work of the New World Baroque. The result is the rich examination of a trajectory that leads from the Renaissance ordered city to the energetic revolts of the spectacular city and the New World Baroque.
Chilean Culture, Economics, and the Neoliberal Transition
Fornazzari analyzes the reconfiguration of the aesthetic and the economic spheres in the context of the Chilean neoliberal transition (1973 to the present) and argues that one of the dominant legacies of that transition is the economization of all spheres of life. This logic is explored through a series of emergent figures in contemporary Chilean cultural and economic production. Fornazzari examines the relation between the aesthetic and the economic in the context of the Chilean transition, and the texts under analysis comprise a varied selection from different fields including literature, film, economic texts, the visual arts, cultural critique, and political theory. One of the author’s ambitions is to move beyond a culturalistic approach, so he explores the logic of neoliberalism proper by engaging with the economic theory produced by some of the major Chicago School thinkers and their reception by the Chilean economic discourse. Through an analysis of these figures Fornazzari develops a critical materialist approach to culture and the economy in a neoliberal context.
This exploration of class, feminism, and cultural identity (including issues of race, nation, colonialism, and economic imperialism) focuses on the work of four writers: the Mozambican Mia Couto, the Portuguese José Saramago, the Brazilian Clarice Lispector and the South African J. M. Coetzee. In the first section, the author discusses the political aspects of Couto’s collection of short stories Contos do nascer da terra (Stories of the Birth of the Land) and Saramago’s novel O ano da morte de Ricardo Reis (The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis). The second section explores similar themes in Coetzee’s Life and Times of Michael K and Lispector’s A hora da estrela (The Hour of the Star). Marques argues that these four writers are political in the sense that they bring to the forefront issues pertaining to the power of literature to represent, misrepresent, and debate matter related to different subaltern subjects: the postcolonial subject, the poor subject (the "poor other"), and the female subject. She also discusses the "ahuman other" in the context of the subjectivity of the natural world, the dead, and the unborn, and shows how these aspects are present in all the different societies addressed and point to the mystical dimension that permeates most societies. With regard to Couto's work, this "ahuman other" is approached mostly through a discussion of the holistic, animist values and epistemologies that inform and guide Mozambican traditional societies, while in further analyses the notion is approached via discussions on phenomenology, elementality, and divinity following the philosophies of Lévinas and Irigaray and mystical consciousness in Zen Buddhism and the psychology of Jung.
The Body and Memory in African American Women's Writing and Performance
Focusing specifically and exclusively on the relation of trauma to race, this book distinguishes itself from previous studies of the literatures of trauma. Jennifer Griffiths examines the influence of racism on the creation and reception of trauma survivors' narrative testimony in selected works by African American writers and playwrights.
Simón Rodríguez and the American Essay at Revolution
In Tropes of Enlightenment in the Age of Bolívar, Ronald Briggs shines a much-needed light on the writings and life of Simón Rodríguez, early tutor to the hero of Latin American independence Simón Bolívar and an accomplished essayist in his own right. Bolívar and Rodríguez's lives intersected often after those early years. When Bolívar swore his life to Spanish American independence on a hill outside Rome in 1805, Rodríguez was there to witness the historic moment. And when Bolívar needed to shape the new government of Bolivia, he enlisted Rodríguez to serve roles in developing both its educational system and its infrastructure. The book, released during the bicentennial of the early wars for Latin American independence, boldly places Rodríguez in the pantheon of important writers who influenced philosophical thought during the upheavals of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, including Ralph Waldo Emerson, Noah Webster, and Tom Paine. Beyond merely providing the first in-depth analysis of Rodríguez's writings and life work, Briggs also reveals an innovator of style as Rodríguez shaped the utility and vitality of the essay as an emerging form of argument. Tropes of Enlightenment in the Age of Bolívar is an essential study of a unique and playful writer who is finally revealed as a foundational figure in Spanish American independence and an influential thinker in the larger field of hemispheric studies.
Culinary Coups in Caribbean Literature
The ubiquitous presence of food and hunger in Caribbean writing—from folktales, fiction, and poetry to political and historical treatises—signals the traumas that have marked the Caribbean from the Middle Passage to the present day. The Tropics Bite Back traces the evolution of the Caribbean response to the colonial gaze (or rather the colonial mouth) from the late nineteenth century to the twenty-first. Unlike previous scholars, Valérie Loichot does not read food simply as a cultural trope. Instead, she is interested in literary cannibalism, which she interprets in parallel with theories of relation and creolization.
For Loichot, “the culinary” is an abstract mode of resistance and cultural production. The Francophone and Anglophone authors whose works she interrogates—including Patrick Chamoiseau, Suzanne Césaire, Aimé Césaire, Maryse Condé, Edwidge Danticat, Édouard Glissant, Lafcadio Hearn, and Dany Laferrière—“bite back” at the controlling images of the cannibal, the starved and starving, the cunning cook, and the sexualized octoroon with the ultimate goal of constructing humanity through structural, literal, or allegorical acts of ingesting, cooking, and eating.
The Tropics Bite Back employs cross-disciplinary methods to rethink notions of race and literary influence by providing a fresh perspective on forms of consumption both metaphorical and material.
Spanish American novels of the Boom period (1962–1967) attracted a world readership to Latin American literature, but Latin American writers had already been engaging in the modernist experiments of their North American and European counterparts since the turn of the twentieth century. Indeed, the desire to be "modern" is a constant preoccupation in twentieth-century Spanish American literature and thus a very useful lens through which to view the century’s novels. In this pathfinding study, Raymond L. Williams offers the first complete analytical and critical overview of the Spanish American novel throughout the entire twentieth century. Using the desire to be modern as his organizing principle, he divides the century’s novels into five periods and discusses the differing forms that "the modern" took in each era. For each period, Williams begins with a broad overview of many novels, literary contexts, and some cultural debates, followed by new readings of both canonical and significant non-canonical novels. A special feature of this book is its emphasis on women writers and other previously ignored and/or marginalized authors, including experimental and gay writers. Williams also clarifies the legacy of the Boom, the Postboom, and the Postmodern as he introduces new writers and new novelistic trends of the 1990s.