The Mexico City magazine El Universal Ilustrado (1917-34) is best known today for its promotion of the avant-garde estridentista movement and the rival Contemporáneos group; however, the publication’s engagement with cinema, unparalleled in the Mexican press, has gone largely unexamined. This essay contends that El Universal Ilustrado’s remediation of cinema through literary, journalistic, and visual discourses negotiated between postrevolutionary cultural nationalism and US mass culture, and thus between the intellectual ambitions of lettered elites and emerging popular audiences. Cinema’s social effects in the period highlighted a perceived divide between cultural producers and consumers, given Mexico’s status as an importer rather than a producer of moving-image entertainment. At the same time, the publication staged procedures for assimilating the medium of film (as a technology, an industry, and a set of subjective experiences) by linking cinema to new forms of urban circulation and erotically charged social encounters, highlighting Mexicans’ role as cultural producers in the imagined space of Los Angeles, and articulating and enforcing ideals for domestic film production and consumption. El Universal Ilustrado’s visual and verbal heterogeneity allowed it to negotiate the conflicting cultural meanings attached to cinema, even as discourses on the medium reinscribed hierarchies of nation, race, gender, and class.


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pp. 293-320
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