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Unfolding the City: Women Write the City in Latin America

Anne Lambright
Elisabeth Guerrero
Copyright Date: 2007
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 304
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  • Book Info
    Unfolding the City
    Book Description:

    For the first time, Unfolding the City addresses issues of gender and the urban in literature—particularly lesser-known works of literature—written by Latin American women from Mexico City to Buenos Aires. Contributors: Debra A. Castillo, Sandra Messinger Cypess, Guillermo Irizarry, Naomi Lindstrom, Jacqueline Loss, Dorothy E. Mosby, Angel Rivera, Lidia Santos, Marcy Schwartz, Daniel Noemi Voionmaa, Gareth Williams. _x000B_

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-9848-6
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. xi-xxxii)
    Elisabeth Guerrero and Anne Lambright

    As the Chilean writer Diamela Eltit implicitly recognizes in the quotation selected as the epigraph for this book, the city is not only a site built of towers of steel and glass but is also both a product and a generator of modern culture. This socially constitutive role of urban space is of growing interest in contemporary cultural studies. Theorists in a variety of disciplines—geography, sociology, anthropology, art history, literature—are debating the value of the city in modern life and its effects on its inhabitants. The city plays a particularly important role in Latin America, where urban areas...

  5. Part I Mapping the City

    • 1 Short Circuits: Gendered Itineraries in Recent Urban Fiction Anthologies from Latin America
      (pp. 3-26)
      Marcy Schwartz

      The Latin American city as a spatial, social, and cultural phenomenon has received much attention from the social sciences and cultural studies in recent years. Topics such as the patterns of urban violence, the emergence of the megalopolis, the city’s environmental challenges, and public art confront earlier views that celebrate modernity and industrialization. Latin America’s cities have earned a place in the study of globalization, particularly in current debates about neoliberalism. Latin American writing registers this reevaluation of urban space through revising generic categories that intersect with the city. Whereas the narrative “Boom” of the 1960s and 1970s launched the...

    • 2 What Happened to the Cool City? Seventy Years of Women’s Narrative in Brazil
      (pp. 27-48)
      Lidia Santos

      It is not surprising that women writers in the last seven decades have changed the face of fiction in Brazil from the moment they began to include the urban environment in their narratives. The concept of the citizen solidified during the Enlightenment suffers a strong setback when the woman writer creates female characters in the city. Inevitably, such characters are forced to confront a concept of subject that does not correspond to themselves, since it implies an individual of the male sex, proprietor and patriarch (Serret, 104; Santos, 956). The first manifestations of the feminist movement are characterized by the...

    • 3 On Being a Woman in the City of Kings: Women Writing (in) Contemporary Lima
      (pp. 49-66)
      Anne Lambright

      In the 1999 novelPista falsa(False clue) by Peruvian writer Carmen Ollé (b. 1947), the female protagonist reflects briefly on a subtitle she notices on the cover of a popular magazine. It reads, “What does it mean to be an oldlimeño?” ([male] resident of Lima).¹ The question and subsequent reflections on the part of the protagonist would seem of negligible importance within the rest of the novel, which is a sort of mystery story. But in this essay I propose that the question, and indeed its silent and silenced counterquestion—“What does it mean to be a modern...

    • 4 Failed Modernity: San Juan at Night in Mayra Santos Febres’s Cualquier miércoles soy tuya
      (pp. 67-90)
      Guillermo B. Irizarry

      The opening sentence of Mayra Santos’sCualquier miércoles soy tuya(Any given Wednesday I’ll be yours) succinctly locates the novel’s action and underscores the symbolic value of movement and activity within the city.² The “worn-out, corroded vehicle” brings to mind the difficulty of movement and velocity within this tropical island.³ Tropicality and Caribbeanness trump modernity, and the novelistic endeavor reproduces this literary and ideological proposal. AlthoughCualquier miércolesnever declares the name of Puerto Rico, its capital, San Juan, marks the plot’s central coordinates. As such, the text underscores the problematics of a twenty-first-century city within a global thrust for...

  6. Part II The Restless City

    • 5 Anna’s Extreme Makeover: Revisiting Tolstoy in Karenina Express
      (pp. 93-109)
      Debra A. Castillo

      “When cultures confront one another in this contested space of media interpretation and recontextualization, new opportunities arise for . . . ‘reciprocal translation’” (18), says D. N. Rodowick hopefully, in an introduction to the topic “mobile citizens, media states” in the January 2002 issue of thePMLA. The objective of Rodowick’s comments in this context is to bridge to an analysis of Guillermo Gómez-Peña’s work from his discussion of Ian Chambers, whose enlarged concept of translation is decoupled from geographic considerations. Chambers works with translation in terms of the concepts of transit, transition, and the transitory, where language rather than...

    • 6 The “Uchronic” City: Writing (after) the Catastrophe
      (pp. 110-123)
      Daniel Noemi Voionmaa

      In postmodernity, the notions of time and space used to refer to the city in Latin America are no longer valid. There are no pasts, no futures, and no presents. All that remains is the nostalgia for an Arcadiaillo tempore. The city has ceased to be a place. Indeed, the concept of utopia now becomes the impossibility of and simultaneous desire for time. The city has moved from a fixed territorial entity to a deterritorialized geobody looking for a time, the uchronic city.

      In this essay I show a possible route, a constellation of texts that allow us to...

    • 7 The Fourth World and the Birth of Sudaca Stigma
      (pp. 124-144)
      Gareth Williams

      In Diamela Eltit’s nightmarish yet premonitory novelEl cuarto mundo(The fourth world) urban space is not a place for either anthropological or location-based subjectivities of any kind. Although the city slowly becomes a forceful presence in the narrative’s development, there are no specific urban forms or landscapes to be found, and no city-based interactions between what one might consider “real” people and the multileveled negotiations of the public sphere. The novel thus refuses to present the city as an organized, rationally administered, or governmental terrain for the biopolitical production of “real” individual or collective identities.¹ As such, it appears...

  7. Part III Cities of Difference

    • 8 The Cultural Memory of Malinche in Mexico City: Stories by Elena Garro and Cristina Pacheco
      (pp. 147-166)
      Sandra Messinger Cypess

      Whether as Tenochtitlán or today’s Distrito Federal, Mexico City has always been a special place, the first city of the New World for which we have ample written documentation. When Cortés reached Tenochtitlán, it was the most populated city in the Western Hemisphere, and it has maintained that reputation to this day. Once considered almost indescribable for the Spanish chroniclers, today’s writers have filled pages and pages of stories about the many people who walk its neighborhoods and carry on their daily lives in this stimulating and often frustrating metropolis. As large as a small country, perhaps the largest city...

    • 9 Writing Home: Afro–Costa Rican Women Poets Negotiating Limón and San José
      (pp. 167-188)
      Dorothy E. Mosby

      In the contemporary literature by blacks of West Indian descent in Costa Rica, the cities of Puerto Limón and San José are significant sites of exploration because of the historic and cultural importance of these two locations.Women writers in particular have addressed the often difficult relationship between Afro–Costa Rican identity and these two centers. Through the act of memory and the motif of the journey, Eulalia Bernard (b. 1935), Shirley Campbell (b. 1965), and Delia McDonald (b. 1965) articulate cultural and ethnolinguistic tensions in their poetry as memories and bodies shift between the provincial port city, Puerto Limón, as...

    • 10 Urban Legends: Tina Modotti and Angelina Beloff as Flâneuses in Elena Poniatowska’s Mexico City
      (pp. 189-204)
      Elisabeth Guerrero

      For half a century, Elena Poniatowska’s urban chronicles, fiction, and testimonial collages have documented the tremendous transformations of Mexico City into what is today a megalopolis with 25 million inhabitants. In Poniatowska’s writings, the capital city beckons prospective residents with its cultural richness and potential work opportunities. Nevertheless, the Mexican writer problematizes the city’s allure, exposing the urban center as one that can be brutal to those who attempt to reserve a space for themselves within the cosmopolitan milieu.² This essay explores how the prominent Mexican intellectual turns a gaze both benevolent and critical upon the metropolitan heart of Mexico,...

  8. Part IV Other Cities

    • 11 Modernity, Flirting, Seduction, and Urban Social Landscape in Carmela Eulate Sanjurjo’s El asombroso doctor Jover
      (pp. 207-230)
      Ángel A. Rivera

      The pleasures and politics of flirting are a topic that may awaken passionate debates, particularly among feminist scholars. Would contemporary feminist theoreticians condemn women’s performance of flirting, because it could be considered a stereotypically feminine act that exploits traits that have been considered vain and superficial? Or could it be considered an effective strategy of those who are socially “weaker”? Many of the novels written by the Puerto Rican intellectual Carmela Eulate Sanjurjo (1871–1961), also published under the pseudonym Dórida Mesenia, explore the controversies of flirtation within the context of modernity, modernization, and the city, both in Puerto Rico...

    • 12 Woman between Paris and Caracas: Iphigenia by Teresa de la Parra
      (pp. 231-250)
      Naomi Lindstrom

      The 1924 novelIphigenia (The Diary of a Young Lady Who Wrote Because She Was Bored)by the Paris-born Venezuelan writer Teresa de la Parra (1889–1936) is first and foremost the self-portrait of a young woman. María Eugenia, the narrator-protagonist, is torn between the respectability of traditional Caracas and a free-spirited, risk-taking approach to life. The latter is linked in her mind to an idealized vision of Paris as a space of complete personal liberty, where everyone, male or female, is free to come and go as he or she pleases. AsIphigeniabegins, María Eugenia is eighteen, just...

    • 13 Amateurs and Professionals in Ena Lucía Portela’s Lexicon of Crisis
      (pp. 251-266)
      Jacqueline Loss

      Beginning in the early 1990s, following the 1989 collapse of the Soviet Union, there have abounded lurid narrative descriptions of Cuba’s capital city in a crisis nominally attenuated by its official term “Special Period in Times of Peace.” The crisis exacerbated racial and economic differences, but the drastic nature of the change also saw the emergence of revised discourse on ethnic, religious, and sexual difference that related to Cuba’s new and varied relation with an elaborate external sphere, no longer dominated by the USSR. Writers created other means to deal with this crisis; most internationally successful of the literary expressions...

  9. Contributors
    (pp. 267-270)
  10. Index
    (pp. 271-293)