Abstract

Abstract:

From José Martí’s famous declaration “decirlo es verlo” to Rubén Darío’s popular crónica series “Films de París,” modernista texts were imbued with a sense of the visual from the movement’s beginnings. In this essay, I argue that the interaction with emerging photographic and cinematographic technologies of the period was not a reactionary response to an existential threat of the literary by the visual. Instead, writers incorporated elements of visual culture to negotiate the field of cultural production and “to give color and life and air and flexibility to the old poetics that suffered paralysis,” to use Darío’s words that helped to define modernismo (qtd. in Franco 119). Reading lesser-known texts from writers Enrique Gómez Carrillo, Amado Nervo, and Alfonsina Storni, I propose that the discursive interaction between visual media and modernista literature furthered the literary ambitions of the cultural movement and coincided with its aesthetic purposes. Concepts from comparative media studies assist in reading the narratives of visuality during modernismo and this investigation attempts to bring this framework of study to modernista criticism in light of these writers’ immersion in the mediascape of the period. Photography and film established new routes of expression and narrative innovation in the cultural dynamic of the region. These elements also led to new critiques of Spanish American modernity through modernista textualities that increasingly incorporated visual media into the movement’s literary discourse.

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