Critical Acts: Latin American Women and Cultural Criticism

Critical Acts: Latin American Women and Cultural Criticism

Critical Acts: Latin American Women and Cultural Criticism

Critical Acts: Latin American Women and Cultural Criticism

Synopsis

"A clear, well-written, and cogent study of three major women intellectuals and their positions as creative writers and cultural critics in Latin America."--Francine Masiello, University of California, Berkeley

"Insightful and often brilliant... especially important in countering the traditional thought that posits the notion that women did not engage in the production of culture and knowledge in 20th-century Latin America."--Susan C. Quinlan, University of Georgia

Moving deftly across the gap between Portuguese- and Spanish-speaking Latin America, Elizabeth Marchant examines the writing of three important women intellectuals of the early 20th century: L cia Miguel Pereira (Brazil), Victoria Ocampo (Argentina), and Gabriela Mistral (Chile).
Though Marchant acknowledges the persistence of the "bearded academy"-referring to the male-dominated nature of literary institutions--she challenges the assumption that women did not engage in the production of culture and knowledge in modern Latin America. Looking at the broad contexts in which the three authors wrote, she explores their views on race, culture, gender, and national identity, bringing into focus women's impact on the writing of the history of ideas in Latin America as well as their traditional influence as writers of personal themes. She also examines the neglected study of the critical essay as a genre. Solidly grounded in feminist theory, cultural criticism, and social history, this book offers important ground-breaking perspectives on the issue of gender criticism and the study of Third World women writers. Elizabeth A. Marchant is assistant professor of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of California, Los Angeles. She has written articles on contemporary Afro-Brazilian literature and cultural studies.

Excerpt

Interest in Latin American women's writing has grown steadily over the past three decades. With the resulting expansion of the corpus of texts written by women, new possibilities for understanding their position within Latin American societies emerge. As part of an ongoing effort to reconsider the scene of writing for Latin American women, Critical Acts examines the literary and cultural criticism produced by Lúcia Miguel Pereira (Brazil), Victoria Ocampo (Argentina), and Gabriela Mistral (Chile) during the first half of the twentieth century. Focusing on the broad national and historical contexts in which these authors wrote, this book pays particular attention to the critical strategies and generic disruptions they employed in their writings. It recuperates and analyzes their cultural work, highlighting the historical importance of writing by women in Latin America. Most specifically, Critical Acts shows how, given the predominant tendency to view women as writers of the personal, they nonetheless gave voice to their views on culture, race, gender, and national identity.

Critical Acts will appeal to readers interested in women's studies, in Latin American studies, and in twentieth-century Brazilian and Spanish American literature. More generally, anyone interested in theories of identity and location, especially with regard to gender, will find this study particularly useful.

This project was supported financially by research grants from the University of California. I am grateful for the encouragement and advice of Dale Bauer, Silvia Bermúdez, Ernesto Chávez, John Coleman, Ana Paula Ferreira, John Foran, Avery Gordon, Heloísa Buarque de Hollanda, Gor0don Hutner, Randal Johnson, Jane Kamenksy, Gwen Kirkpatrick, Jim Man drell . . .

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