This article considers the crónica modernista to offer a case study of what comparative media studies might contribute to the study of Latin American literary and cultural history. Through an analysis centered on the Havana-based literary weekly La Habana elegante, I argue that although cronistas clearly promoted the exclusivity of their writing in ways that anticipated twentieth-century notions of literary value, they also envisioned ideas of literature that disappeared after the genre’s heyday in the 1880s and 1890s. Within La Habana elegante, one of those ideas took the form of what I am calling networked literature, through which some cronistas sought to make literature a vehicle for mobilizing social and political change. The periodical’s crónicas envisioned the region’s culture as a global leader in modeling that kind of literature for an expanding world of print. Recovering La Habana elegante’s alternative notion of literature extends observations within existing scholarship on the genre about its role in promoting emerging notions of pan-Latin American identity. It also sheds new light on one of the period’s leading cronistas, Julián del Casal, who offered his own alternative to La Habana elegante’s literature.