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Who is speaking? Sense and self in Vallejo

César Vallejo is considered one of the most important Latin American writers of the twentieth century. Yet with the complexity of his texts, his doubled, branching voices, and the controversies over his editions and manuscript traditions, he became both myth and interpretive battleground before most of his work was available to read. Vallejo’s transformation into a cultural artifact began in the 1920s, when critic José Carlos Mariátegui sought a prototypical Peruvianness in his work. The marketing of Vallejo after his death presents a mysterious, but also unchanging figure: the shadowy voice of a body speaking of orphanhood, poverty and the pain of being. The early critics’ attachment to this dark image promoted reductive readings. The postmodernist corrective, to see Vallejo as a writer of fractured subjectivity, has value but more useful are the ideas of cultural layering and a subjectivity that is neither unitary nor “fragmented,” but plural, distributed, mobile. This presentation would consider Vallejo in light of Foucault’s “What is an author?” Angamben’s “The author as gesture,” and some contemporary Vallejo criticism (Clayton, Granados, Hart, González Viaña). Key texts are the prose poem “Las ventanas se han estremecido” [The windows have shuddered, 1924], the novella “Fabla salvaje” [Savage Fable/Wild Speech, 1923], the novel El tungsteno [Tungsten, 1931] and the post-epic poetry of España, aparta de mí este cáliz [Spain, take this cup from me, 1938].



Filed under Poetry, Working

Ideas from Arturo Arias’ article on Jean Franco in PMLA 131.3 (2016)

I love to study, but it is hard to do when people don’t like you to. When you have no context or negative context, you have to become super-strong. The idea of defending your time leads to concentrating on your parapets, not your manuscript. I do not like the idea of shrinking. I think we should expand into our space and think of love.

These aren’t notes on the article as such, just pieces of information I wanted to remember and ideas I want to keep in mind this week.

1. DoS literally said the 1954 Guatemala coup was to finally “finish the conquest” — and is arguably the single most important event in 20th century US-Latin American relations.

2. Franco was upsetting to people like my father because like Latin American thinkers, she did not separate the cultural world from the political and social spheres.

3. She is among the first to think things through dependency theory, which she re-explains in Decline and fall…. That, of course, goes against development theory and Cold War-style area studies.

4. Franco, Rama and the lettered city: letrados had intervened since at least the early 19th century to legitimize exemplary narratives of national formation and integration while building their nations as entities constituted by discourses, symbols, images and rites (Arias 703) PERHAPS USE THIS TO START MY PAPER NOW

5. One of Franco’s key points in her first book was that while Western art tends to deal with individuals, or love, Latin American literature and art is much more concerned with social ideals. Also, in L.A. the humanities and social sciences are much clser together than in the U.S.; Franco brought that in and her first book (1967) also influenced and formed La ciudad letrada (1984)

6. Revise Spivak? The indigenous subject is the privileged interlocutor of the West in Latin America, not the Western subjec of African descent.

7. J. Ramos: before Calibán, traditional Latin Americanists believed in the integrative capacity of national iteratures and art, whereas Latin American cultural studies as it evolved in the 1980s criticized the concept of a national culture as an apparatus of power (Arias 705). LACS, says Arias, emerged from the failed nation building, when the Central American civil wars ended the revolutionary period that had begun in 1959.
This new era inspired Cruel modernity.

8. Coloniality makes dependent societies unable to democratize, nation build, or modernize in the First World sense. Cornejo Polar anticipated the idea of coloniality (which was developed by Quijano and Mignolo in the 1990s). Coloniality describes how the modern/colonial pattern persists, structuring racialization, subalternization, and knowledge production.

9. I think L.A. does achieve modernity, just the other side of it (to follow these theories). Franco: the Cold War meant suppression of national development in Latin America // and this is why Latin American thinkers decided they had to Think Differently (I need to think better about this).

10. The way memory and reconciliation were structured allowed for neoliberalism as transition for democracy, and limited accountability for the violence that was used to suppress struggles for greater freedom.



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Filed under Race book