Woman as Witness: Essays on Testimonial Literature by Latin American Women

Woman as Witness: Essays on Testimonial Literature by Latin American Women

Woman as Witness: Essays on Testimonial Literature by Latin American Women

Woman as Witness: Essays on Testimonial Literature by Latin American Women

Synopsis

Testimonial narrative is considered to be both a constant in Latin American literature, as well as one of the most prominent features of the post-boom writing of the 1980s and 1990s; women have successfully assimilated this form and currently dominate the testimonial genre in Latin America. The essays in this volume provide an orientation to the woman-centered view of this genre by inquiring into the critical and theoretical debate on the subject as well as analyzing specific nineteenth- and twentieth-century Latin American women's testimonial texts. Woman as Witness also includes selections from two testimonial works by Argentine women to advance the creation of a canon of Latin American feminist testimonial.

Excerpt

Linda S. Maier

Introduction and Statement of Purpose

With a few notable exceptions—seventeenth-century Mexican nun Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, and nineteenth-century authors Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda (Cuba) and Clorinda Matto de Turner (Peru)—there has been an absence of prominent women writers in Latin America until the twentieth century. Latin American women poets—Delmira Agustini (Uruguay), Juana de Ibarbourou (Uruguay), Alejandra Pizarnik (Argentina), Alfonsina Storni (Argentina)—flourished in the first half of the past century, and one—Chilean poet Gabriela Mistral—became the first Latin American Nobel laureate. a few women authors such as María Luisa Bombal (Chile) and Rosario Castellanos (Mexico) achieved literary celebrity in other genres. However, these women writers were curiosities in the male-dominated pantheon of Latin American literature.

Likewise, women writers were conspicuously absent in the Latin American boom of the 1960s and 1970s. Only with the advent of post- boom literature has Latin American women's writing attracted significant international attention. in fact, it may be argued that women writers— among them, Isabel Allende (Chile), Laura Esquivel (Mexico), Rosario Ferré (Puerto Rico), Elena Poniatowska (Mexico) and Luisa Valenzuela (Argentina)—are the movement's leaders and certainly its indisputable publishing phenomena.

Within the current of Latin American post-boom literature, that is writing produced since 1970, testimonial literature stands out. Georg M. Gugelberger characterizes it as “one of the most significant genres of . . .

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