The Canon and the Archive: Configuring Literature in Modern Spain

The Canon and the Archive: Configuring Literature in Modern Spain

The Canon and the Archive: Configuring Literature in Modern Spain

The Canon and the Archive: Configuring Literature in Modern Spain

Synopsis

This volume rethinks the opposition between canonical and noncanonical, opting instead for understanding the literary canon as a segment of the larger archive of literature. Beyond what is presently regarded as canonical, this archive includes previously valued works that have been forgotten, as well as an indefinite supply of works as yet unconsecrated or unknown. Drawing from an eclectic array of theoretical sources - from Stanley Fish, Barbara Herrnstein Smith, John Guillory, Pierre Bourdieu, and Itamar Evan-Zohar to Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida - Wadda C. Rios-Font re-reads nineteenth- and twentieth-century Spanish texts and authors who have tested the boundary between high and low culture, repositioning them within Spanish literary history and criticism. of literature has changed in more than two centuries of modernity in Spain, as well as the critical, institutional, and cultural negotiations behind this change. Wadda C. Rios-Font is Associate Professor of Spanish at Brown University.

Excerpt

This is a book about frontier texts. it is not about “popular” literature, although it includes forms, like the nineteenth-century serial novel and the erotic novel, widely considered so. It is not about “noncanonical” literature, since any production by Benito Pérez Galdós, even his lesser-known journalism and underestimated theater, could hardly qualify as such. It does not posit a tradition that includes these, as well as the propagandistic novel of the Spanish Civil War, and the more recent detective novel of Manuel Vázquez Montalbán. Though all the writings analyzed in the following pages could be grouped by vague classifications such as “popular” or “noncanonical,” the great differences between them allow no incontestable categorical grouping. What they have most in common is that, within modern Spanish literary history and criticism, at one time or another they have been deemed just “outside” literature, either because they were considered part of a different type of nonartistic corpus of imaginative writing, or because they weren’t judged of enough “quality,” or because they were defined as a different type of discourse.

The texts addressed in this book have been sites of friction between the “literary” and the variously “nonliterary”; academic debates about the nature of these terms have actually taken place or become especially relevant around them. It is precisely this liminal position that brings them together as readings with the potential to stir up both established literary history and ingrained critical methodologies. the specific interpretations and the type of reading practiced here bring up questions about how we understand literature (in general) or modern Spanish literature (in particular) as objects of study, in the context of a discipline that is probably much more elusive than physics or mathematics, and yet must have, and does have, a tangible content. What falls within its boundaries is at the same time a matter of extensive agreement, and a collection of constantly renewed (or potentially renewable) acts of choice. in other words, the theoretical . . .

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