Current Issue Article Abstracts

Volume 75.2  December 2022 



Familiar Estrangements: Toward a Genre Theory of Latin American Speculative Fiction
Alexandra Brown

The past several years has seen an increase in Latin American literary texts that embrace multiple genres. In response, the term "speculative fiction" has gained traction as a tool for talking about them. However, a majority of the existing critical analysis on speculative fiction has been developed through readings of anglophone science fiction. This presents two hurdles as the term grows in popularity among scholars of Latin American literature. The first is the need to adapt theories of speculative fiction to the Latin American literary tradition, and the second is to ensure that this theory registers the broad array of genres under the speculative fiction umbrella. This article moves towards a theory of Latin American speculative fiction by drawing out a thread that runs through several of those genres. I argue that the slipstream phenomenon, previously ascribed in the Latin American tradition only to science fiction, is a defining feature of Latin American speculative fiction more broadly. Taking as a case study Horacio Castellanos Moya's Baile con serpientes, I examine the shifts in genre that occur when speculative forms slip into an otherwise realist Central American noir novel. I conclude that various non-realist genres represented by the umbrella term "Latin American speculative fiction" use slipstream as a tool to recast genre boundaries. The essay moves towards a theory of Latin American speculative fiction that recognizes the shared patterns of impact created by diverse non-realist genres on the landscape of Latin American literature.


Invisible Points and Open Windows: Picturing Representation in the Poetry of Antonio Méndez Rubio and Ana Merino
Paul Cahill

Using the work of Barthes, Derrida, Pratt, Rancière, and Sontag, among others, this paper explores how what is shown, not shown, and hidden play an equally important role in the work of Antonio Méndez Rubio (1967-) and Ana Merino (1971-). While Merino's La voz de los relojes (2000) interrogates the visible by expanding and simultaneously subdividing it, showing that different people see different things, Méndez Rubio's El fin del mundo (1995) highlights the impact of the (in)visible and out-of-frame in his interrogation of the visible. Even though each poet engages with different forms of visual representation—painting in Merino's work and photography and film in Méndez Rubio's—and represents different spaces—Cuba in Merino's work and Albania in Méndez Rubio's—both show that it is possible to interrogate visual representation as a larger phenomenon even if their work does not use more traditional ekphrastic approaches in which poems engage with and establish a dialogue with existing visual representations. The work of these two poets ultimately reveals the importance of continuing this interrogation of visual representation, since such critiques of modes of representation do not sever the inextricable link between visual representation and discourse, but instead only reshape and reframe it.


"La sofisticación de la pérdida": Usos y abusos de la fotografía en la obra de Eduardo Lalo
Gustavo Quintero Vera

This article focuses on a series of visual essays in the literary production of the Puerto Rican writer Eduardo Lalo (1960): Los pies de San Juan (2002), donde (2005), and El deseo del lápiz (2010). We analyze these books in chronological order, regarding them as a unit in evolution, an organic sequence that meticulously builds, develops, and alters a way of looking. If Los pies de San Juan represents the claustrophobic experience of the physical city of San Juan, donde transforms this experience into a condition and projects it outwards to a conceptual space that imbues everything around the speaker. In El deseo del lápiz this "conditioned" way of dwelling is taken to its extreme by suggesting prison can be interpreted as a synecdoche of all these previous experiences. By exploring fissures in the hegemonic models of visuality (in the physical, conceptual-epistemological, and institutional levels), Lalo's work blurs the imaginary line of "the distribution of the sensible" (Rancière). This means that by combining the visual experimentation of photography with the conceptual-epistemological exploration of the text, Lalo conceives a new aesthetic community that presents bodies with another way of experiencing their daily reality. At the same time, we analyze the tension created by the constant, perhaps unintended irruption of the self-referential authorial voice within the texts.


Geographies of Degeographication: Latin America and the Virgin Woods in Mário de Andrade's Macunaíma
Victoria Saramago

The expanding field of Latin American ecocriticism has repeatedly shown how environmental approaches to cultural production often transcend national and regional borders. A case in point is Mário de Andrade's modernist novel Macunaíma (1928), whose homonymous protagonist has the ability to rapidly travel across Brazilian territory and into neighboring countries in what Andrade defined as a process of "degeographication." This article proposes that, rather than simply erasing borders, Macunaíma's continental wanderings highlight the singular, ambivalent position Brazil has occupied in conceptualizations of Latin America. Moreover, these transnational journeys occur primarily in the geographically undetermined space of the "virgin woods," where distances and limits on movement are less marked than in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. By investigating how a borderless Latin America is imagined via the space of the virgin woods, this article demonstrates how Macunaíma's degeographication is geographically and environmentally conditioned. In doing so, it aims to reconsider the longstanding debates about Brazil's status in Latin America in light of ecocritical studies and to show how environmental considerations may contribute to this discussion.


The Estridentistas and Contemporáneos Reimagined: Debating the Legacy of the Mexican Literary Avant-Garde
Ann Warner-Ault

The article discusses how prominent Latin American authors have reimagined the two Mexican avant-garde groups—the Contemporáneos and Estridentistas—in novels published between 1992-2011. It is obvious that the authors pay tribute to the Mexican avant-garde by casting members of the Contemporáneos and Estridentistas as lead characters in their novels. What is less obvious is the way in which the later authors stylistically borrow from the earlier avant-garde authors. Although critical tradition has tended to separate the Estridentistas from the Contemporáneos, a side-by-side reading of their 1920s prose both argues against this division and lays claim for a more prominent position for the Mexican avant-garde in Latin American letters. Between 1921 and 1929, both Estridentistas and Contemporáneos obsessively produced experimental literary self-portraits. These fragmented, pseudo-autobiographical texts serve as models for the later works from the 1990s to early 2000s, all of which paint portraits of Mexican intellectuals amidst turmoil while using literary devices that simultaneously undermine questions of authorship and the possibility of telling a coherent story. Both sets of experimental autobiographies (those from the 1920s and more recent versions) deeply question the meaning of being an intellectual in Mexico, both then and now. Considering the Estridentistas and Contemporáneos in tandem not only reveals a fuller picture of the 1920s literary scene in Mexico, but allows us to see an organic style that emerged in Mexico and influenced authors and artists throughout the Americas from the 1920s until the current day.



Expanded Geographies: Recent Trends in Mexican Cultural Studies
Rubén Gallo



Dead Voice: Law, Philosophy, and Fiction in the Iberian Middle Ages by Jesús R. Velasco (review)
Manuela Bragagnolo


Hemispheric Integration: Materiality, Mobility, and the Making of Latin American Art by Niko Vicario (review)
Mary K. Coffey


¿Qué será la vanguardia? Utopías y nostalgias en la literatura contemporánea by Julio Premat (review)
Jorge J. Locane


The Senses of Democracy: Perception, Politics, and Culture in Latin America by Francine Masiello (review)
Vanesa Miseres


Popular Political Participation and the Democratic Imagination in Spain: From Crowd to People, 1766–1868 by Pablo Sánchez León (review)
Vicente Rubio-Pueyo