Past Issue Abstracts
Volume 75.1 June 2022
Multilingualism and the Indigenous Novel: Paths of Comparatism Inscribed in Aqupampa by Pablo Landeo Muñoz
Aqupampa (Desert Sands, 2016) by Pablo Landeo Muñoz is the first novel published in Quechua and the first novel in a Latin American Indigenous language published monolingually––and the author insists on in never to be translated into Spanish. This article focuses primarily on two its aspects: literary genre and multilingualism. It posits Aqupampa as an opening of a field of intertextuality and comparison, inviting a transformation of current comparative frameworks. This analysis builds on the reflection on how translation has played a central role in theories of postcolonial, decolonial, and world literature. Since translation is an asymmetric practice, its asymmetry seeps into literary categorizations and analysis. This study proposes to rethink these frameworks through the lens of multilingualism constructed from the perspective of an Indigenous language. It is an impulse to rethink literary circulation, putting in question the centrality of impact within the literary and cultural sphere, and insisting on values other than vast readership. Aqupampa allows us to conceptualize the participation in world literature of texts that do not travel easily but have different (dis)locations inscribed in their linguistic and genre structures.
In (Dis)Use of Reason: Abjection Poetics and Macrocephalic Modernity in El Techo de la Ballena
This article studies the poetry by the Venezuelan neo-avant-garde collective, El Techo de la Ballena (1961-1969). Inspired by the Cuban Revolution and in opposition to local social-political conditions, the balleneros developed a radical aesthetic project meant to transfigure the avant-garde into an actual weapon for revolutionary struggle. While most scholarship focuses on the group's visual arts, the predominant theory linking El Techo's poetics and politics remains Ángel Rama's "el terrorismo en las artes" (1966), which highlights provocation, aggressivity, and reader ambush. In this essay, I offer a new approach to ballenero poetry. In considering two key works, Juan Calzadilla's Dictado por la jauría (1962) and Caupolicán Ovalles's En uso de razón (1963), I examine what I call "abjection poetics"—the deliberate cultivation of slippage between imposed social limits through abject imagery and expression and the resulting political ramifications. I argue that abjection serves as the primary means through which the poets endeavor to destabilize the matrices of power that characterized early 1960s Venezuela, a moment of "macrocephalic" modernity—the physical and rhetorical execution of rapid, uneven modernization and the strategic ordering of the body politic. Calzadilla's and Ovalles's poetry drive the abject into the innerworkings of the developmentalist agenda in order to disrupt its visual, performative, and discursive execution and, in turn, demystify its claims to reason.
Modernidad de bolsillo: imágenes, consumo e imperio en el viaje a Italia de Clorinda Matto de Turner
This article analyzes the travel account of Clorinda Matto in Italy in 1908, which is part of her posthumous publication, Viaje de recreo. The analysis of her stay in Italy focuses on Matto's combination of text and image, since the narration of her travel experience is accompanied by numerous engravings acquired as postcards by the author. This combination will be analyzed in two basic dimensions. First, in the use and consumption of photographs and postcards as a practice of modern tourism. Second, the essay investigates Viaje de recreo's practices of looking that replicate the aesthetics of both the museum's gallery and the photographic albums and scrapbooks. Finally, the article discusses the ideological dimension of the images' reproduction and selection, what I call here a "pocket modernity." Clorinda Matto reconstructs, from the engravings and from her reflections on them, an image of the Roman empire that not only refers to the foundations of Western civilization but also traces direct ties with the American empires, that of the Incas specifically. Just as at the intersection of text and image offers a new approach to women's travel writing in Latin America, in the parallels established between two civilizations, the Inca and the Roman, we can also read Clorinda Matto's views of modernity, between Europe and America.
The Angrily Bored Condition of Exile in Caribbean Literature at the Turn of the Millennium
This essay discusses the relationship between anger, boredom, and exile in Caribbean literature published in the wake of the nineties, a decade profoundly marked by a change in sensibility, by analyzing Ena Lucía Portela's El pájaro: pincel y tinta china (1999) and Rafael Franco Steeves's El peor de mis amigos (2007). Specifically, in both texts, I detect a fluidity between the concepts of time, water, and a need to disappear. Disappearance as a heterotopic state seems to be connected to a need to destabilize single-authored discourses, functioning as mandates on how to live. This essay, then, argues that disappearance is the most radical effect of subjectivities that operate as, what I call, "angrily bored exiles," a political imagination that challenges the boundaries between subject and object as well as between body, space, and time. If neoliberalism imposes an anxiety about being bored, the exiled position inhabits boredom angrily to enunciate alternate ways of existing. The essay turns this literature into an evaluation of this emotional literary position within a broader context. I propose that the angrily bored mood from the nineties tempered the blind fervor of the sixties and has given contemporary Caribbean subjects a more complicated perspective on their options when imagining utopic representations.
Estilo: lo sublime y la violencia neoliberal en la poesía de Dolores Dorantes
Estilo is a collection of prose poems written in exile by poet, journalist and activist Dolores Dorantes, after the author suffered an attack by organized crime for her work with Documentación y Estudios de Mujeres A.C., a grassroots organization that collected testimonies of women affected by the so-called "war on drugs". This paper analyzes Dorantes' critical appropriation of an average Mexican style (Luis Felipe Fabre), which under the ahistorical guise of the sublime reproduces sexism, elitism and corporatism. I argue that this appropriation of the sublime, both in its rhetorical (Pseudo-Longinus) and aesthetic (Burke, Kant and his followers, etc.) meanings, aims to visibilize the intertwining between the public discourse on drug trafficking and the diffuse violence of the narco-machine (Rosanna Reguillo), especially against women.
Things with a History: Transcultural Materialism and the Literatures of Extraction in Contemporary Latin America by Héctor Hoyos; Mourning El Dorado: Literature and Extractivism in the Contemporary American Tropics by Charlotte Rogers
The Indies of the Setting Sun: How Early Modern Spain Mapped the Far East and the Transpacific West by Ricardo Padrón
This Ghostly Poetry: History and Memory of Exiled Spanish Republican Poets by Daniel Aguirre-Oteiza
Pintando al converso: la imagen del morisco en le península ibérica (1492–1614) by Borja Franco Llopis and Francisco J. Moreno Diaz del Campo
The Politics of Taste: Beatriz González and Cold War Aesthetics by Ana María Reyes
Not One Less: Mourning, Disobedience and Desire by María Pia López
Volume 74.2 December 2021
Talisman, Amulet, and Intention in Medieval and Early Modern Iberia
This study examines amulets and talismans in medieval and early modern Iberia. I argue that the terms amulet and talisman can be used to examine how, on the one hand, some Iberian magic texts are considered magic or magical based on a belief that the objects themselves have intentions, and on the other, that magic texts possess a magic effect as a result of the intentions that a human user attributes to them. While a provisional distinction between amulets and talismans can be made using the criterion of intention, this study ultimately argues that intention is simply a means by which we might understand the complexity of the functioning of magic texts and objects, rather than a means to classify them in any sort of definitive way. To examine function in the realm of magic texts, I examine three motifs of intention, illustrating each one with examples from Christian and Islamic Iberian contexts: the acquisition and uses of knowledge; reading and other forms of communication; and metonymy and interpretation. I draw on magic texts depicted in medieval Iberian literature, magic compilations confiscated by the Spanish Inquisition that contained magic and could themselves be used as amulets, and Morisco recipes that aim to cure a variety of ailments and to solve problems.
Legitimation, Self-Censorship, and Fatherhood: Garcilaso Inca and Diego de Vargas
José Cárdenas Bunsen
Through new archival research, this article breaks the silence of Garcilaso Inca (1539-1616) about his fatherhood. It does so by reconstructing the legitimation of his son Diego de Vargas (1582–1652) undertaken to attain ecclesiastical ordination thanks to his status as a foundling, an abandoned newborn who never knew his parents' identities and who was to be admitted to orders, not on a genealogical basis but exclusively on his own merit measured by his education and practice of virtue. Diego's successful legitimation forced him and Garcilaso to live without acknowledging their parental ties. This study demonstrates that Garcilaso's social circumspection became in his writings a self-censorship of his paternity, but its presence makes his translation of the Diálogos de amor a personal meditation on paternal love. The analysis also contends that Diego's legitimation quietly informs the author's comments in the Comentarios on Inca pedagogical policy, his narrative of his own father and the rebuttal of those chroniclers who attacked Diego de Almagro for being a foundling. It finally argues that Garcilaso extrapolated the criteria of the merit-based legitimation of his son onto his opinions about nobility and education, and onto his interpretation of the topic of arms and letters.
Interregnum and Pharmacology: Hernán Ronsino's Pampas Trilogy
Recent work in Latin American literary and cultural studies argues that politics has undergone a fundamental shift under globalization and now consists of a prolonged suspension of sovereignty or interregnum. This article examines periods of interregnum in twentieth and twenty-first century Argentina as portrayed in Hernán Ronsino's Pampas Trilogy of La descomposición (2007), Glaxo (2009), and Lumbre (2013). I analyze how Glaxo connects revolution and counter-revolution to pharmaceutical industrialization, amplifying and literalizing a widespread metaphor of health and disease in the political body. I link political poisons and cures to the pharmakon of writing, following Jacques Derrida, and the pharmacology of contemporary capitalism, following Bernard Stiegler. Throughout the trilogy, Ronsino's pharmakon appears in different moments of interregnum as he disarticulates narrative conventions, constructs an afterlife for canonical literature, and participates in the paradoxical preservation and corruption of collective memory during periods of political crisis. The trilogy shows that figures of disease and immunity have long permeated the relationship between literature and community. In Lumbre, the 2001 political and economic crisis exposes this relationship as one of simultaneous disclosure and concealment, exemplary of literature's role in the contemporary interregnum. For Ronsino, pharmacological mechanisms are at the core of political interregna, amplified in the pharmacology of transnational capitalism and framed in writing and photography.
Hippopotamus Dead or Alive: Animals and Trauma in Narratives of the Drug War
A strange animal haunts recent Latin American novels: the hippopotamus. This article analyses the meaning of the presence of these big African mammals in narco-themed literature through a discussion of El ruido de las cosas al caer (2011) by Juan Gabriel Vásquez and Fiesta en la madriguera (2010) by Juan Pablo Villalobos. This presence at first appears to be a mere literary representation of the link between drug and animal trafficking, particularly the narco-fad of showcasing wealth through the establishment of private zoos. Yet the meaning of this presence runs deeper. I argue that, in the texts, the animals embody trauma: the authors employ the hippos to represent and debate the wounds left behind by armed conflict and structural violence. Animals occupy several positions and meanings in the novels. Their living or dead bodies, their sounds and silences express the materiality of life and death as well as unspeakable pain. Their undisputed innocence as animals caught in the crossfire opens up the possibility of questioning the criminalizing discourse of the drug war. Their commodified animal bodies speak of the trauma of capitalism and colonialism.
The Forging of a Tawny Spain: Othello, Lepanto, and the "Turkish Heart Hid Beneath"
Ana María Laguna
This study explores the role that the battle of Lepanto (1571) plays in the construction of Spain as a racialized, "tawny" nation (Love's Labour's Lost 1.1.171). By examining the ways in which two literary works—Shakespeare's Othello (c. 1602) and James I's poem Lepanto (1585)—obliquely refer to the battle, and even more inconspicuously to Spain, these pages demonstrate the engagement of each text in the hispanophobic or hispanophilic energies unleashed by this military landmark. Lepanto not only constitutes the greatest military clash in the history of the Mediterranean, but also a sort of representational microcosm of the European wariness towards Iberia. Understanding the nature and workings of this representational dynamics can shed new light on how Iberian otherness was forged in the literary and artistic European world of the 1500s and 1600s, and the ideological bearings that this ethnic characterization owes to the complex Anglo–Italian–Spanish relationship of the period.
The Limits of National Film Histories and the Logic of Expansion
In recent years, Latin American film studies in the United States has seen a steady output of monographs on national cinematic traditions that is due, in large part, to the genealogy of this young field and its relation to the broader discipline of film studies. Despite the region's long cinematic history, it was first introduced to the Anglophone academy in the 1970s through the New Latin American Cinema (NLAC). Latin American film studies began to congeal around two crucial assumptions that were characteristic of this movement: its object of study was, on the one hand, explicitly political—having its origins in Third Cinema and global projects of decolonization—and, on the other, regional. Robert Stam, Julianne Burton-Carvajal, Michael Chanan, and Ana M. López, among others, put Latin American cinema on the academic map in the United States through their work on the NLAC.
Migration and Race in Contemporary Spain: Two Interlocking Stories
Benita Sampedro Vizcaya
Home Away from Home and Rocking the Boat are two ground-breaking, engaging, timely monographs, with enticing titles, thorough textual and contextual analysis and, most importantly, a sense of both relevance and urgency. They assess Spanish political culture, migratory policy, and social attitudes both towards immigration and the racialization of the migrant subject through the lens of an assortment of narratives—novels, films, songs, music and musical performances—from the 1980s into the twenty-first century. By way of a close reading of these texts and sounds, N. Michelle Murray and Silvia Bermúdez set out, in their respective books, to map out articulations of race, gender, labor, class, and belonging as constitutive of a new Spanish landscape, postdating a migratory influx that started in the late 1980s and transformed the cultural imaginary.
Intellectual Philanthropy: The Seduction of the Masses by Aurélie Vialette (review)
Pedro García Guirao
Memory Battles of the Spanish Civil War: History, Fiction, Photography by Sebastiaan Faber (review)
Antonio Gómez López-Quiñones
The Great Woman Singer: Gender and Voice in Puerto Rican Music by Licia Fiol-Matta (review)
Tierras en trance: arte y naturaleza después del paisaje by Jens Andermann (review)
Droga, cultura y farmacolonialidad: la alteración narcográfica ed. by Lizardo Herrera and Julio Ramos (review)
Volume 74.1 April 2021
Special Issue: Hispanic Institute Centennial
Stories and Politics of Hispanism
In 1915, just one year before Federico de Onís arrived in New York after accepting an appointment as professor at Columbia University with the mission to build a program for the teaching of Spanish language and culture—and five years before he founded the Instituto de las Españas—he was writing some of the first film criticism in Spain. He had accepted an offer by his friend Ortega y Gasset to publish periodically about the new medium in España, his new weekly magazine.
The Pittsburgh Model and Other Thoughts on the Field (Hispanism/Latin Americanism)
Between 1980 and 1990 the department of Hispanic Languages and Literatures at the university shifted its graduate program from one centered on peninsular Hispanism and Hispanic linguistics to one centered on Latinamercanism. My own work underwent a similar shift. From Góngora to Testimonio so to speak. The talk outlines some of the issues involved, which were initially pragmatic but then became theoretical and political. Is a unified narrative of Hispanic civilization such as Carlos Fuentes offered in The Buried Mirror still possible, perhaps today under the rubric of a Global Hispanism? The talk argues that it is not, that Hispanism and Latinamericanism are irreconcilable.
The Locations and Relocations of Lusophone Studies
This article assesses the current field of Lusophone studies in the north American academy and its relation to Portuguese, Iberian, and Luso-Brazilian studies. It considers some of the disciplinary politics of the field's, and how Lusophone studies has a broad remit that encompasses both Eurocentric studies and the postcolonial cultures related to the former Portuguese empire as well as diasporic movements. The concept of the Portuguese language abroad as a basis for communal identity (or lusofonia), a term that carries cultural and political weight as well as linguistic identity, enters into the critical assessment as one of the concepts that might provide for a more expanded and inclusive arena of Portuguese-based identity apart from the traditional understandings of a "standard" form of the Portuguese language, such as the case with contemporary African forms of expression. The article also traces the engagement, collaborations, and contributions of Lusophone studies with and to other humanities disciplines such as LGBTQ studies, women's/feminist studies, and postcolonial/diasporic studies which focus on Africa, Asia, and the U.S./Canada. The article provides a view of how Lusophone studies as a field has moved from a more traditional practice of literary/historical studies to accompany more contemporary and newer lines of academic inquiry, and how these directions often work against an inherent colonialism in earlier assumptions and practices informing the discipline.
Undisciplined Objects: Queer Women's Archives
Claudia Cabello Hutt
This essay reflects on the seeming impossibility of Global South area studies in its intersection with gender/queer studies geographically and epistemologically based in the North from the vantage point of queer archives and the study of queer networks of women writers, artists, and intellectuals of the first half of the twentieth century. It suggests that the process of gathering and theorizing an unstable, transnational, largely Latin American queer archive that resists full legibility becomes an opportunity to think about the geopolitics of knowledge, methodologies, disciplines, and activism. Queer Latin American archives, when approached from situated decolonial, feminist, and queer theories and methodologies, offer an encounter with the radical illegibility of queer desire, bodies, ways of living, eroticism, and relationships. The voices and embodiments in these archives contribute to the history of non-heteronormative imaginations and to the genealogies of sexual and gender dissidence essential to queer theories and histories in the Global South.
En la cima más alta de Nueva York: Federico de Onís, frontera y mercado
"En la cima más alta de Manhattan". Borders, the Market, and Onís's Hispanism In one of the several articles he devoted to discuss his concept of Hispanism, Federico de Onís represented Columbia as strategic location from which to rebuilt what he called "a Spain without Spain". Located between Riverside Drive and Broadway, the university would be the place to push forward the liberal political and cultural agenda brought to an end by the outbreak of the Civil War; furthermore, it would allow to develop new transnational economic alliances between Spain, Latin America and the United States. In this article, I will focus on this and other locations that Onís conceptualized as "border" sites, paying particular attention to the consequences that such a concept had for the constitution of Hispanism as a discipline. Key concept in Onís, the border is in his work the privileged location where Spain constituted itself as a transhistorical entity, particularly in times of imperial expansionism through warfare and commerce. A kind of parallel version of the Manifest Destiny doctrine, Onís's formulation is inextricably linked to the emergence of Pan Americanism, and like it, unthinkable outside the new place of Latin America in the post-1898 global networks.
Scholars, Spies, and Other Agents: US Hispanism and the State
The relationship between scholars and modern states is often more complex than we tend to assume, and this complexity especially affects academic experts who work in, or are citizens of, nation-states other than those that they study-including scholars who study Spain from elsewhere. If they are lucky, they receive double the state support and recognition. More often, they are caught between competing loyalties or targeted for surveillance and harassment from one or both sides. Modern nation-states have tended to consider the academic fields that study their own history and culture as a potential generator of status and prestige and, therefore, as extensions of their foreign policy and even a kind of shadow diplomacy. These same nation-states also crave scholarly knowledge about other nations, mobilizing scholars less as shadow diplomats than as shadow spies. This essay looks at the relationship of some prominent United-States-based Hispanists with the American and Spanish state between the 1920s and the present. Although the notion that scholars' work should serve the interests of their nation-state is not as prevalent today as it was in the mid-twentieth century, the state continues to exert influence of the shape and evolution of the scholarly study of Spain.
Reinventing Medieval Iberian Studies
Emily C. Francomano
When I was invited by my colleagues at the Hispanic Institute to participate in this centenary celebration, I accepted with delight and then felt almost immediate trepidation at the remit: a critical reappraisal of my field of expertise, one that is diachronic in nature and also discusses the field's relationship to Hispanism more broadly. What, I thought, is my field? (or perhaps the emphasis should be on the personal pronoun: what is my field?). As much recent writing on the practice of medieval studies has suggested, it is a field (or assemblage of fields) determined by personal identities and desires.
Left Standing in a Field of Texts
With attention to the decade of the 1960s, when I entered graduate school, I address the disciplinary changes in the field of Hispanic Studies in universities of the United States and trace the shift from a dominant focus on Hispanic literature guided by philology and stylistics to the opening of a Latin Americanism grounded in cultural questions of politics, race, and decolonization. Stimulated at first by an interest in the Cuban revolution along with the expansion of critical approaches that embraced psychoanalysis, semiotics, structuralism, and Marxist theory, Hispanic Studies were slowly reconfigured notwithstanding a battle within the field that was littered by invective and protest. The curriculum changed with an opening of the canon and, alongside peninsular studies, Latin Americanism began to take a place at the departmental table. Gender studies, chicano-latino studies, and post-colonial theory were still a decade away, but the clarion call for change was clearly heard. Courses on theory, ideology, and the politics of the text attracted eager attention and began to displace the kinds of textual criticism often identified with those trained in philology and stylistics. Between the rise of the new and a faltering defense of tradition, Departments of Spanish and Portuguese throughout the country reconsidered business as usual; everything from course requirements to graduate exams and dissertation topics was subject to reevaluation. The field of Hispanic Studies showed a deeply divided discipline: those who took flight with the squall of modernization challenged those who tenaciously upheld long-admired models of study. Change was on the way although, well into the twenty-first century, a new philology and a focus on material culture acknowledge the considerable legacy that once defined us.
"Silencio en la Casa": Political Silence and Cultural Conflict between Hispanists and Hispanics in New York during the Spanish Civil War
Cristina Pérez Jiménez
This essay sets the politically circumspect response to the Spanish Civil War embraced professionally by Federico de Onís, as well as institutionally by the Casa de las Españas, which Onís directed, against the backdrop of emphatic, vocal opposition from the New York Hispanic community. By analyzing a series of open letters between Onís and Hispanic activists published in the New York Spanish-language Leftist daily La Voz (1937-39) and depictions of Onís and the Casa de las Españas that circulated in the city's antifascist print culture, such as the poetry collection Bombas de Mano (1938), this essay demonstrates the growing divide between the city's Hispanics, who were overwhelmingly working-class and committed antifascists, and the city's Hispanists, such as Onís, who refrained from public political activism, in favor of advancing a cultural agenda that purportedly transcended the politics of the time. Ultimately, as the essay argues, this schism, which was anchored in competing visions of the role of culture and its relation to the political terrain, provides early, constitutive underpinnings to the institutional divide between the fields of Hispanism and what would later become U.S. Latino Studies.
From Specialism to Amateurishness: Opening the Compass from the University to the World
Joan Ramon Resina
For the sake of aesthetically round dates, let us convene on the year 2000 as ab quo date for the rise of Iberian Studies as a paradigm intended to replace traditional Spanish studies. Two decades and at least one reaction later, the results are mixed. In many schools and among numerous scholars, the term "Iberian" was eagerly adopted, and even the name "Iberia" is sometimes employed as if it were a new political entity. Unfortunately the nominal change, where it occurred, remained without consequence, since most departments remain committed the post-imperial, or postcolonial, worldview, banking on the demographic extension of the Spanish language rather than on the intellectual appeal of its expressions. This is not a sound basis for a discipline in an age of rapid change and multiple dissolutions, and the syncretic approach to social events that seems to be the current attempt to regain relevance runs the risk of sinking the discipline into irrelevance.
The State of a Field in Five Books
IGNACIO SÁNCHEZ PRADO. Strategic Occidentalism: On Mexican Fiction, the Neoliberal Book Market, and the Question of World Literature. Northwestern UP, 2018.
ADAM SHELLHORSE. Anti-Literature: The Politics and Limits of Representation in Modern Brazil and Argentina. U of Pittsburgh P, 2017.
SARAH TOWNSEND. The Unfinished Art of Theater: Avant-Garde Intellectuals in Mexico and Brazil. Northwestern UP, 2018.
Volume 73.2 December 2020
Cómo escribir el presente: figuras de lo contemporáneo en la narrativa de César Aira
This essay studies César Aira’s works through the notion of the contemporary. Following Giorgio Agamben, Theodore Martin, Julio Premat, and Lauren Berlant, I posit the contemporary to be a critical concept that provides strategies for historicizing the conditions of the ongoing present. In order to frame the discussion of the contemporary in Aira’s texts, I create a vocabulary of three aesthetic figures that lay bare his literary project: the sketch, the brief, and the precarious. The notion of the sketch allows Aira to register the contemporary before it becomes a historical event, whereas the description of his oeuvre as an accumulation of short forms gives the impression of a seemingly endless encyclopedic project. Lastly, I contend that in Aira’s works the contemporary does not come into view through the representation of historical events but through the development of new genres that track the disorienting historicity of crisis. Thus, I argue that Aira’s aesthetic procedure, which he insistently describes as a “flight forward,” serves as a device for registering the contemporary.
Creative Flights of Fancy and Imagination in Virginia Elena Ortea’s Risas y lágrimas(1901)
Emily Joy Clark
Dominican writer Virginia Elena Ortea (1866–1903) has been largely ignored in literary scholarship, and few critics include her in the dialogue surrounding Latin American modernismo. This literary movement was traditionally characterized as male-dominated, apolitical, and marked by preciosista imagery, but contemporary studies by critics such as Gwen Kirkpatrick and Cathy Jrade have debunked its monolithic nature, as it also germinated political and even feminist texts by some overlooked or marginalized writers. In her collection of short stories titled Risas y lágrimas (1901), Virginia Elena Ortea reshapes traditionally modernist preciosista imagery to respond to sexism within the early stages of modernismo and to dialogue with canonical authors such as Rubén Darío, Julián del Casal, and José Martí. In this article, I examine Ortea’s feminist adaptation of modernist tropes such as tropical flowers, winged creatures, and the femme fatale in the stories “En tu glorieta” and “Reverie.” Through the re-imagination and questioning of metaphorical meanings of such tropes, Ortea engages with women’s subjectivity, marginalization, and creativity, and asserts her place as a modernist woman writer.
Clemente Palma, Carlos Toro y el paso del cometa Halley en 1910: catástrofe, palingenesia y alegoría
This article compares two Latin American science fiction stories written around the year 1910: “El día trágico” by Clemente Palma and “El dieciocho de mayo” by Carlos Toro. Both use the real event of the passage of Halley’s Comet near the Earth in May 1910 to produce urban apocalyptic fictions that predict deleterious consequences for humanity. After contextualizing the stories historically, I highlight how they contribute to a transnational literary tradition of cosmic disasters, rely on discursive strategies typical of the narratives of extinction and “last survivor” stories, and incorporate a palingenetic perspective where some of the features of a future society are envisioned. The combination of these traits with a reading of the comet as a metaphor for social change results in hybrid works that can be interpreted as allegorical commentaries of the modern process of secularization. The stories offer us a glimpse into the individual anxieties of the authors facing modernization and ultimately show their inability to imagine the future.
A Menippean Defense of Spain’s American Conquest: Linguistic Imperialism in Juan Pablo Forner’s Exequias de la lengua castellana
Among eighteenth-century scholars, Juan Pablo Forner (1756-1797) is widely regarded as Spain’s most fervent apologist. Critical attention, however, has tended to focus almost exclusively on his Oración apologética por la España y su mérito literario (1786), which he wrote in direct response to Masson de Morvillier’s entry on Spain for the Encylopédie méthodique (1782), and has largely overlooked a key digression within his understudied Menippean satire, Exequias de la lengua española, which defends Spain’s colonial record against European criticism. This article attempts to shed light on the Menippean techniques Forner uses to counter the disparaging portrait of Spanish colonial practices, and argues that the menippea enables him to produce one of the eighteenth century’s most insultingly aggressive, rancorous, and ludic defenses of Spanish colonialism. It examines how Forner uses the freedom of invention typical of Menippean satire to rehearse and settle the Valladolid dispute of 1550–1551 between Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda and Bartolomé de Las Casas, and proposes that Forner’s vision of a benevolent linguistic imperialism, which functions primarily as a pretext for assuaging Spain’s colonial guilt, has its origins in Carlos III’s linguistic policy, which imposed Castilian as the sole language of empire in 1770.
Domesticar la esquizofrenia de las vanguardias desde un páramo cultural: los inicios de la editorial Tusquets y la encrucijada cultural europea
The interest in academic studies about the Hispanic publishing world has emerged relatively recently. The existing studies are limited almost entirely to the national framework, with its particular limitations, which influence mainly the perspective of translations. Comparative studies of publishing houses from different countries with similar identities and projects can contribute significantly to the study of certain cultural debates. In Spain a handful of publishing houses of the vanguard, in particular Catalan ones, played a fundamental role in the cultural transition that took place during the last years of Francoist regime. During its first years of operation—at a time when the country itself was still an isolated, cultural wasteland—Tusquets opted for a particularly subversive and avant-garde approach. Tusquet’s work in opening up the culture was significant, and it is therefore important to evaluate whether the publishing house’s catalogue was based on definite editorial strategies and to what extent Tusquets encouraged the radical ideological manifestations that flourished amongst the students at the beginning of the 1970s. In the first years of its operations, the publishing house’s intention was to mimic trends and currents that emerged in France and Italy signaled out Tusquet’s similarities with publishing houses such as Minuit, Pauvert or Adelphi, which reveal in a representative manner the development of Spanish culture in those years, both because of their vitality and their tendency to improvisation.
Nuevos acercamientos a la participación de las mujeres en los circuitos letrados
The Moral Electricity of Print: Transatlantic Education and the Lima Women’s Circuit, 1876–1910 by Ronald Briggs (review)
Edging toward Iberia by Jean Dangler (review)
Suzanne Conklin Akbari
The Hernandez Brothers: Love, Rockets, and Alternative Comics by Enrique García (review)
Spanish Modernism and the Poetics of Youth: From Miguel de Unamuno to La Joven Literatura by Leslie J. Harkema (review)
The Ghost in the Constitution: Historical Memory and Denial in Spanish Society by Joan Ramón Resina (review)
Pablo Sánchez León
Lettered Artists and the Languages of Empire: Painters and the Profession in Early Colonial Quito by Susan V. Webster (review)
Volume 73.1 June 2020
“Esas palabras eléctricas”: Arlt on the Telephone
The presence of the telephone throughout the work of Roberto Arlt calls for closer examination, for although this sound reproduction technology functions differently in the newspaper writings and novels that made him famous, it always allows this sophisticated media theorist to explore the expanding role of networks in everyday life in early twentieth-century Buenos Aires. Unlike the publics created and catered to by radio or newspapers, the telephone exhibits a unique combination of intimacy and immediacy that depends on a widely available network of wires extending across the city. After tracing some of the history of Argentine telephony and Arlt’s intersections with it, I review a series of aguafuertes in order to reveal how he understands the specificity of the medium as well as how he occasionally attempts to render this textual space a telephonic one. Turning to his novels, I then address his depictions of the telephone network as a key one among the many that, taken together, constituted a constantly changing city. As I argue, attending to the telephone—and its contrasts to the phonograph and radio—complements other scholarly work on Arlt’s engagements with visual media like cinema and photography. Often appearing alongside each other in his works, telephony sharpens print as an instrument of media theory as the latter, whether as novel or newspaper, retains the crucial ability and responsibility to situate the former.
La crónica travesti y la conformación del mercado global en los escritos de la moda de Amado Nervo
Just like other Spanish-American modernista poets, Amado Nervo was a regular practitioner of the chronicle. Evidencing the influence of Manuel Gutiérrez Nájera, Ángel de Campo y Valle “Micrós”, and even Luis G. Urbina, his chronicles alternated with those penned by Rubén Darío in newspapers and magazines across the Spanish-speaking world. And yet, they are the least studied aspect of his oeuvre. Seen through a sociological lens, particularly his chronicles about women’s fashion constitute valuable material to examine cultural processes at work at the turn-of-the century conformation of a peripheral market and the very neocolonial order in the region. Moreover, in their interpellation of a feminine reader, in which these chronicles purportedly perform a transvestite form of journalistic writing, they actually participate in the configuration of both emergent subjectivities held on to the new economic order and to the strictness of gender roles in the nascent local consumer society.
In São Paulo Visible
Adriana M. C. Johnson
This essay reads the collection of documentary short films entitled Bem Vindo a São Paulo (2004) as exemplifying the challenges of producing a latter day city-symphony. If early twentieth century films set out to capture and make sense of modern cities through images and visual practices, many of the different shorts in Bem Vindo a São Paulo suggest instead that global cities like São Paulo can no longer be made intelligible through visual means. In this context, sound – words, music and sound – is brought in to bear the weight that the visual can no longer sustain and serve as the register in which proximity and sense are promised.
Necrofeminismo y redes de indignación en Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda y Emilia Pardo Bazán
In this essay, I explore how Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda and Emilia Pardo Bazán process their traumatic encounters with sexual and gender discrimination within the intimate space of correspondence. Though the two never met in person, they shared the experience of being rejected by the Real Academia Española—Gómez de Avellaneda in 1853, and Pardo Bazán in 1889, 1891 and 1912. Writing to an already dead Gómez de Avellaneda, Pardo Bazán creates what I refer to as a necro-feminist bond: a political alliance between embodied and disembodied subjects fighting against patriarchal biopolitics. By focusing on the affective contours of each woman’s correspondences, I trace the ways in which they respond to the cultural imperative to repress their anger at social injustice while devising oblique forms of communicating their rage through sarcasm and irony. Finally, I argue that these epistolary corpuses act as a counterpoint to the Academia’s misogyny and serve as a productive site for considering non-normative modes of expressing and forming collectivities around traumatic experiences.
Tentativa Artaud and Its Double: Performing Surveillance, Dividing Time
The legacy of dictatorial violence in Latin America has called into question the possibility of linear histories, instead demanding a focus on the way the past continues to surface in the present. Yet, as one Chilean performance and its archives reveal, thinking about history spatially as opposed to temporally reveals the way that the future can also inflect meaning in the present. This article traces the history of a building in Santiago that first served as the stage for an anti-dictatorship performance by students at the University of Chile, and was then subsequently taken over as a center for surveillance by Augusto Pinochet’s secret police. Led by philosopher Ronald Kay, this art action, called Tentativa Artaud, emerged from a seminar including artists such as Raúl Zurita, Catalina Parra and Diamela Eltit, who would explore similar performance tactics in their later work. What began as a secretive performance about sound and language in Antonin Artaud’s writing gained subsequent meaning when the same building became the site of violent espionage. This performance, as I will argue, confuses the temporality of past and future by demonstrating that in the context of surveillance, spaces can be charged with meaning that resonates across time.
The Transition Revisited: From Compression to Cuidado
“The Transition Revisited: From Compression to Cuidado” REVIEW ESSAY OF: Manuel Artime. España: en busca de un relato;Patricia M. Keller. Ghostly Landscapes: Film, Photography, and the Aesthetics of Haunting in Contemporary Spanish Culture; Germán Labrador Méndez. Culpables por la literatura: imaginación política y contracultura en la transición española (1968-1986); Santiago Morales Rivera. Anatomía del desencanto: humor, ficción y melancolía en España 1976-1998; Luis Moreno-Caballud. Cultures of Anyone: Studies on Cultural Democratization in the Spanish Neoliberal Crisis; Culturas de cualquiera: estudios sobre democratización cultural en la crisis del neoliberalismo español; H. Rosi Song. Lost in Transition: Constructing Memory in Contemporary Spain
Moors Dressed as Moors: Clothing, Social Distinction, and Ethnicity in Early Modern Iberia by Javier Irigoyen-García (review)
Luis F. Bernabé pons
Imagining the Americas in Medici Florence by Lia Markey (review)
Front Lines: Soldiers Writing in the Early Modern Hispanic World by Miguel Martínez (review)
Mar Martínez Góngora
Entre el humo y la niebla: guerra y cultura en América Latina ed. by Felipe Martínez-Pinzón y Javier Uriarte (review)
Carlos Abreu Mendoza
The Task of the Cleric: Cartography, Translation, and Economics in Thirteenth-Century Iberia by Simone Pinet (review)
Mary Jane Kelley
Incomparable Empires: Modernism and the Translation of Spanish and American Literature by Gayle Rogers (review)
Anti-Literature: The Politics and Limits of Representation in Modern Brazil and Argentina by Adam Joseph Shellhorse (review)
The Epic of Juan Latino: Dilemmas of Race and Religion in Renaissance Spain by Elizabeth R. Wright (review)
Volume 72.2 December 2019
SPECIAL ISSUE: GLOBAL ART AND LATIN AMERICA
Nature, Market, Media: Explorations in Latin American Art
In April of 2016, Alex Alberro and I organized a conference called "Global Latin America." We invited young scholars from different disciplines to discuss some of the keywords of the field—and the field itself. The increasing internationalization of the study of Latin American art history and cultural studies has altered the topography of these disciplines in ways that are widely acknowledged but not yet clearly defined. The conference sought to track some of the ways in which these disciplines have become enmeshed in global art history and cultural history. Guiding our conversation were questions such as: How is the emphasis on transnationalism shaping the questions we ask about Latin American art and culture? How has our approach to the objects changed over the years? Where are Latin American art history and cultural studies headed?
Global? Contemporary? Latin American? Time Matters in/and Art Today
This article discusses the work of three artists from Latin America that emerged onto the global art world between the 1990s and the present day and became key representatives of a global and contemporary Latin American art. It begins by pointing out the paradox of specifying a specific a geographic production in the context of a global regime. It argues that there are specific types of temporalities in those oeuvres that secure their entry into the ranks of "contemporary art" as the global market around art was configured in the late neoliberal moment. The article suggests that reification in Gabriel Orozco's work, mourning in Doris Salcedo's, and theology in Adrián Villar Rojas's figure temporalities that pass as forms of critique while in fact reinforcing the economic and political mechanisms of the global order. The article ends by proposing a way out of the temporality allowed by the global and contemporary art world.
Beautiful Money; or, What Can Contemporary Art Teach Us about the Neoliberal Economy?
In recent years, numerous scholars have called attention to the growing presence of economic rationality in every sphere of contemporary life—including those aspects of human existence portrayed by classical liberal thought as inherently removed from the realm of economic interests. In the realm of contemporary art, which is often described as an exemplary case, it is said that market expertise has replaced critical, aesthetic judgment. However, what if this mode of market expertise and, more broadly, neoliberal reason as such have more in common with aesthetic judgment than one might usually imagine? In reference to the work of visual artists such as Cildo Meireles and novelists ranging from Machado de Assis to Ricardo Lísias, and drawing upon a wide range of theoretical perspectives on contemporary cultural and economic theory, this paper investigates the aesthetic underpinnings of contemporary capitalism.
Energy and Abstraction in the Work of Dolores Soldevilla
Dolores (Loló) Soldevilla (1901-1971) was among the first Cuban artists to work in geometric abstraction, a member of the short-lived Grupo de Diez Pintores Concretos, and someone who continued working in abstraction until her death. In 1957 she also made an important trip to exhibit her art in Caracas, Venezuela, where local aesthetic and political debates would inform the founding of her own gallery in Havana that same year, Galería Color-Luz. After the 1959 Cuban Revolution, however, Soldevilla also penned articles and an experimental novel, and briefly designed toys for the Instituto Nacional de Industrias Turísticas (INIT), an institution that in the early years of the Revolution fostered and oversaw artistic production in a number of unlikely spaces. This article examines Soldevilla's oeuvre from the late 1950s through the mid-1960s to reveal how her foundation in abstraction came to be inflected by three connected pressures: a revolutionary ideology of realizing immediate change and production, debates about the merits of figuration versus abstraction, and mid-century energy-driven developmentalism in an era of petroleum exploration. National plans for energy extraction and tourism in Cuba, philosophical understandings of energy as both actualized and potential, and period debates among Latin American artists and critics over figuration and abstraction all informed both ruptures and continuities in Soldevilla's work during these critical years, manifest in her painting, her novel El farol, her sculptures and in a design for a toy.
Conversations: The Television Interview in Jaime Davidovich and David Lamelas
Daniel R. Quiles
This article examines the motif of the television interview in the film, video and television work of two Argentinean artists: David Lamelas and Jaime Davidovich. Like many of their generation, Lamelas and Davidovich migrated to the Global North amidst the political instability of the 1960s. Television and the mass media remained central themes of Lamelas's work, from his conceptual art in the late 1960s through his experimental films of the early 1970s to his embrace of video from the mid-1970s onward. In an early series of videos made in Los Angeles, Lamelas staged parodic news interviews as if the viewer were actually watching a television program, making ambiguous reference to ongoing political situations. Davidovich moved to New York in 1963 and remained there until his passing in 2016. He pioneered public-access cable production in the mid-1970s, co-founding the Artists Television Network in 1978 and producing his own show, The Live! Show, in 1979. Interviews with artists, critics and curators—some serious and journalistic, some playful or even farcical—were a fundamental component of both projects. While political hardship and migration were indisputably part of their biographies, both artists used the television interview precisely to undermine geographic or political authenticity as markers of identity. Their television works repeatedly stage encounters in which quasi-journalists engage with outsiders, as if perpetually restaging their own incomplete yet insightful integration into their new contexts of production.
The Secular Duty: Latin Americanism as Criollo Humanism
Latin Americanism is best understood as a political-theological formation, which produces the "justification" for its literary-philosophic enterprise as a sacrifice unto the payment of debts, the fulfillment of obligations, and, generally, its servitude to the social order. This article advances the argument that Latin Americanist critique has been, despite its best intentions, a deeply criollo endeavor (often with the racialized valences that the signifier suggests). A Spanish colonial heritage and a certain racialized inscription that works to immunize the Latin Americanist endeavor against theoretical speculation has resulted in a Latin Americanism that has been highly inconsequential: belletrism or "political engagement" as the twin face of a field that can too often only understand itself in terms of its service to a power from which it is at pains to maintain its difference. Engaging decolonial thought, on the one hand, and liberal literary criticism, on the other, I argue that Latin Americanist critique's missed encounter with deconstruction remains a symptomatic scene of its failure to emerge from its criollo heritage.
Geographies of Cuban Abstraction
The connection between Revolutionary Horizons and Carmen Herrera: Lines of Sight can be said to be orthogonal—orthogonality being a core compositional principle of post-war abstraction. Both stories begin in Havana and come to age in the long 1950s. They are accounts of divergent geographies of Cuban abstraction in the visual arts but with multiple and concurrent tangential points of contact. McEwen's Revolutionary Horizons chronicles the pursuit of abstraction in the Cuban visual arts at a time of deep political unrest and ideologically charged aesthetic choices. Under the care of curator Dana Miller, Carmen Herrera: Lines of Sight accompanies the eponymous exhibit at the Whitney Museum for American Art with a collection of four texts and 82 color plates, profiling the lifelong oeuvre of the Cuban-born, New York-based abstract artist Carmen Herrera. The most comprehensive retrospective of Herrera's work to date, this is only the latest in an increasingly long list of events and materials—including a documentary—celebrating the rediscovery of her art.
REVIEWS: Global Art and Latin America
Tarsila do Amaral: Inventing Modern Art in Brazil ed. by Stephanie D'Alessandro, and Luis Pérez-Oramas (review)
Picturing the Barrio: Ten Chicano Photographers by David William Foster (review)
Ileana L. Selejan
After Human Rights: Literature, Visual Arts, and Film in Latin America, 1990–2010 by Fernando J. Rosenberg (review)
Cronografías: arte y ficciones de un tiempo sin tiempo by Graciela Speranza (review)
Anxieties of Interiority and Dissection in Early Modern Spain by Enrique Fernández (review)
No hay nación para este sexo: la Re(d)pública transatlántica de las Letras: escritoras españolas y latino-americanas (1824–1936) ed. by Pura Fernández (review)
The Secret Faith of Maestre Honoratus: Profayt Duran and Jewish Identity in Late Medieval Iberia by Maud Kozodoy (review)
Forging the Past: Invented Histories in Counter-Reformation Spain by Katrina B. Olds (review)