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Bodies and Biases: Sexualities in Hispanic Cultures and Literatures

Series: Hispanic Issues
Volume: 13
Copyright Date: 1996
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 472
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  • Book Info
    Bodies and Biases
    Book Description:

    Looking at a wide range of cultural practices and artifacts, including television, popular music, and pornography, Bodies and Biases addresses representations of sexual behavior and collective identity, homosexuality, and ideologies of gender in historical and contemporary Hispanic culture. Contributors: Silvia Bermúdez, Dário Borim Jr., Herbert J. Brant, Lou Charnon-Deutsch, Ana García Chichester, Brad S. Epps, Gustavo Geirola, Mary S. Gossy, J. Eduardo Jaramillo-Zuluaga, Marina Pérez de Mendiola, Salvador A. Oropesa, James A. Parr, Javier Aparicio Maydeu, Claudia Schaefer-Rodríguez, Robert ter Horst.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8725-1
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Esto no es una despedida
    (pp. ix-x)
    Jenaro Talens
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Introduction The Age of Suspicion: Mapping Sexualities in Hispanic Literary and Cultural Texts
    (pp. xiii-xxxii)
    Dário Borim Jr. and Roberto Reis

    According toWebster’s New World Dictionary,the wordintroduction,in strict usage, refers to the preliminary section of a book (often written by someone other than the author) that explains and leads into the subject proper.Introderives fromintero,which, akin tointer,denotes “inwardly.”Duce,coming fromducere,implies “to lead,” which, not surprisingly, will later becomedukeorprince,one who rules an independent duchy. Bearing in mind the etymology of the two terms that compose the wordintroductionitself, we suspect it is not exactly our role to introduceBodies and Biases: Sexualities in Hispanic Cultures...

  6. Chapter 1 The Sexual Economy of Miguel de Cervantes
    (pp. 1-23)
    Robert ter Horst

    Chapter XXII of Part I ofDon Quijote,the episode in which the knight unwisely sets twelve galley slaves free, is justly celebrated for its indeterminacy. On the practical level, there seems to be no problem, for each condemned person more or less confirms his guilt, and once all are liberated they, taking their lead from Ginés de Pasamonte, refuse to reconstitute themselves as a small new society or state of freedmen that would obey Don Quijote’s injunction to seek out the city of Toboso and there present themselves collectively before Dulcinea. Instead, in fear of the Santa Hermandad, the...

  7. Chapter 2 The Sinful Scene: Transgression in Seventeenth-Century Spanish Drama (1625-1685)
    (pp. 24-36)
    Javier Aparicio Maydeu

    This essay will be limited to the period of time between the years 1625 and 1685. During this time, moralists frequently attest to the presence of constant erotic transgressions on the baroque stage. In the distorted mirror of the merchants of morality of the seventeenth century, it seemed not only that Spanish theater of that period did not comply with the orthodoxy of decorum, but that it took pleasure in deviating from it.

    The priest Juan de Mariana, in his celebratedDe spectaculis(1609), anticipates the decades of concern here with a valuable reference to the topic of the “woman...

  8. Chapter 3 Desire and Decorum in the Twentieth-Century Colombian Novel
    (pp. 37-78)
    J. Eduardo Jaramillo Zuluaga and Randolph D. Pope

    There is one incessant history: the history of the body, the history of its adventures and misadventures. Throughout the life of their country, Colombian writers have narrated the history of the body, invoking different words and thus weaving this history in quite diverse ways. We propose here to narrate the history of these words, a more modest history, as are all those written in modern times.¹ This would have been impossible were it not for the extraordinary and sad atmosphere that has enveloped Colombia for many years. In fact, to attribute the debut of the body as an erotic object...

  9. Chapter 4 Representations of Family and Sexuality in Brazilian Cultural Discourse
    (pp. 79-114)
    Roberto Reis

    During Carnaval, half-dressed women show their tanned bodies to the beat of the samba rhythm. In Ipanema, girls in their tiny bikinis parade their gracefulness down the southern beaches of Rio. The most exotic images associated with Brazilian culture are highly charged with eroticism, perpetuating the myth of sexual permissiveness. Anything is possible south of the equator.

    Such images are not to be found only in the foreign imagination; they are fostered by the ideas Brazilians hold of themselves. According to a survey on Brazilians’ sexual behavior, a sort ofHite Report,some individuals claimed to sustain an enviable performance...

  10. Chapter 5 The Body in Context: Don Quixote and Don Juan
    (pp. 115-136)
    James A. Parr

    In an initial approximation, there could hardly be two more disparate works or two more dissimilar protagonists than Don Quixote and Don Juan. The differences in age, social class, self-assigned mission, attitudes toward women, and the Apollonian versus Dionysian worldview would seem to mitigate against any similarities of consequence. It will be my purpose, nevertheless, to seek out those similarities and to suggest that difference assumes a secondary role—one that could be equated with surface structure—in comparison to the commonalities of the deeper structure made manifest in the characters’ final disposition at the hands of their authors, but...

  11. Chapter 6 Popular Culture and Gender/Genre Construction in Mexican Bolero by Angeles Mastretta
    (pp. 137-164)
    Salvador A. Oropesa

    My hypothesis (Monsiváis 1992, Rebeil), in order to define the meaning of the termMexicanin the 1980s and 1990s (during the administrations of Miguel de la Madrid, 1982-88, and Carlos Salinas de Gortari, 1988-94), is that television² has to be considered as the chronotope where the termMexicanis being redefined. Television in Mexico is synonymous with Televisa³ (Provenemex is its editorial house). Televisa (“Televisión”) is a private company, almost a monopoly, that makes money through publicity by appealing to the demands of the Mexican population. At the same time, it has to comply with the duties imposed by...

  12. Chapter 7 Sexing the Bildungsroman: Las edades de Lulú, Pornography, and the Pleasure Principle
    (pp. 165-183)
    Silvia Bermúdez

    A few months afterLas edades de Lulú (The Ages of Lulu)won the coveted First Prize of the erotic collection “La sonrisa vertical” (The Vertical Smile),Marie Claire(Spain), one of the major European women’s magazines, published a revealing interview (August 1989) with Almudena Grandes, the young author of the novel.¹ The interview’s suggestive title, “Almudena Grandes: inventora de Pasiones y perversiones” (Almudena Grandes: Inventor of Passions and Perversions) is but the first emblem of the (con)fusing nature of the novel.² For couched in the choice of the wordspassionandperversionan implicit and important distinction is metonymically...

  13. Chapter 8 El Diario de José Toledo: A Queer Space in the World of Mexican Letters
    (pp. 184-202)
    Marina Pérez de Mendiola

    Judging from the homophobic response in 1991 disclosed by Mexican state officials to a gay conference to be held in Guadalajara, Mexican gay and lesbian groups such as GOHL (Grupo Orgullo de Liberatión Homosexual [Homosexual Liberation Pride Group]), Colectivo Sol (Sun Collective), and Patlatonalli still have a long way to go. This said, Mexico is also one of the first countries in Latin America to decriminalize homosexuality, and it boasts perhaps the longest history of gay and lesbian activism, as outlined by Matthews:

    In the midseventies, a gay men’s discussion group emerged at the Autonomous Metropolitan University (UNAM). Its members...

  14. Chapter 9 Camilo’s Closet: Sexual Camouflage in Denevi’s Rosaura a las diez
    (pp. 203-216)
    Herbert J. Brant

    Marco Denevi is one of Argentina’s most influential and important prose writers. One of the most distinctive features of his writing is the creation of a situation in which a presumed truth has been concealed with a mask. Consequently, in Denevi’s work there always seems to be an uneasy tension, a nagging suspicion that something is definitely not what it appears to be. As the reader proceeds through the narration, the numerous false facades that hide the unexpected and sometimes shocking truth lying underneath are slowly chipped away. Denevi’s numerousinformes(reports),vindicaciones(vindications), andversiones(versions) of people, historical...

  15. Chapter 10 Monobodies, Antibodies, and the Body Politic: Sara Levi Calderón’s Dos mujeres
    (pp. 217-237)
    Claudia Schaefer-Rodríguez

    In the current cultural climate of demolished walls and toppled public monuments, it seems noteworthy, even a bit disconcerting, to find in place an internationally orchestrated and promoted art exhibition such asMexico: Splendors of Thirty Centuries,which made the rounds of U.S. museums from New York to Los Angeles before it moved on to Monterrey, Mexico, in 1992. Through this officially sanctioned assemblage of diverse images clustered around the unifying concept of the alleged splendors of a “unitary will” (as Octavio Paz writes in the introductory essay for the exhibit catalog [4]) stretching from the Meso-American past to the...

  16. Chapter 11 Not so Lonely: A Butch-Femme Reading of Cristina Peri-Rossi’s Solitario de amor
    (pp. 238-245)
    Mary S. Gossy

    When I first heard that Cristina Peri-Rossi had published an erotic novel I looked forward toSolitario de amor’sbeing an addition to the fairly small population of “out” lesbian novels published in Spanish. I opened the book at random in a bookstore in Madrid in 1988 and found the following passage:

    I do not love her body, I am loving her imperceptibly palpating membranous liver, the white sclera of her eyes, the bleeding endometrium, the perforated lobe, the stria of the fingernails, the small and turbulent intestinal appendix, the tonsils as red as berries, the hidden mastoids, the crunching...

  17. Chapter 12 The Case for Feminine Pornography in Latin America
    (pp. 246-273)
    David William Foster

    There are few topics in contemporary cultural production that are more controversial, that more divide individuals into entrenched positions, than pornography. While pornography may be a central fact of human artistic expression, as archaeology and historical studies have amply demonstrated (cf.The Invention of Pornographyfor its relationship to modern culture in general), there is yet no adequate resolution as to how to interpret its role in a global conception of cultural production. For some, typically today such implausible bedfellows as religious fundamentalists (Attorney General’s Commission on Pornography—the so-calledMeese Report)and politically correct, interventionist feminists (paradigmatically, Dworkin and Dworkin,...

  18. Chapter 13 The Pornographic Subject of Los borbones en pelota
    (pp. 274-293)
    Lou Charnon-Deutsch

    In 1991, Ediciones El Museo Universal published an album of 89 watercolors, originally titledLos borbones en pelota,under the titleSem.The watercolors, signed “Sem” or “Semen” are thought to have been painted by Valeriano and Gustavo Bécquer, sometime during the period of 1868-69. The two dimensions of the Bécquer watercolors, the sexual and the political, intersect in important ways that have been touched on only briefly by commentators Lee Fontanella, Robert Pageard, and María Dolores Cabra Loredo, whose studies are included in theSemvolume. In the introduction to theSemcollection, an unnamed editor speculates that with...

  19. Chapter 14 Codifying Homosexuality as Grotesque: The Writings of Virgilio Piñera
    (pp. 294-315)
    Ana García Chichester

    More than a decade after his death in 1979, Virgilio Piñera’s literature is still relatively unknown compared to that of many of his contemporaries. His contribution to Latin American theater and to Cuban narrative is undeniably important. Similarly, he exercised great influence on a younger generation of writers with whom he came in contact during his years at the helm ofCiclón(Cyclone; 1955-59), such as playwrights José Triana (1935) and Antón Arrufat (1935), and novelists such as Severo Sarduy (1937-93) and Reinaldo Arenas (1943-92) (González Echevarría 23). And yet, Piñera’s work remains elusive; perhaps more than any other Cuban...

  20. Chapter 15 Eroticism and Homoeroticism in Martín Fierro
    (pp. 316-332)
    Gustavo Geirola

    José Hernández (1824-86), with hisMartín Fierro(1872 and 1879), is undoubtedly the emblematic author of Argentine identity. Critics and cultural essayists have been unable to resist constructing around him a series of supposedly national and spiritual values concerning what it means to be Argentine. At the same time, they have established the canonical character of a genre known as the gauchesque.² The theme of the gaucho has passed through various stages of transformation, even though not all works of the era are considered to be part of the gauchesque genre: from Hilario Ascasubi (1807-75) to Bartolomé Hidalgo (1788-1822) and...

  21. Chapter 16 Intricacies of Brazilian Gayness: A Cross-Cultural and Cross-Temporal Approach
    (pp. 333-358)
    Dário Borim Jr.

    Some of the changes Brazilian society undertakes in the late 1960s and 1970s exemplify an authoritarian aspect of its sociopolitical values and dynamics. This aspect has much to do with the division of people into two mutually exclusive categories, the domains of masculinity and femininity, which I would like to discuss by focusing on homosexuality. While reviewing pieces of colonial literature and cultural anthropology, I propose to retrace ties between the past and the present of Brazil.

    When the military tightened the individual’s freedom of expression to a minimum in 1968,¹ the human body became not only the center of...

  22. Chapter 17 The Ecstasy of Disease: Mysticism, Metaphor, and AIDS in Las Virtudes del pájaro solitario
    (pp. 359-396)
    Brad Epps

    What is at stake when the ravages of the flesh nourish the ecstasy of the letter? What happens when the metaphorical condensation of love and death, so essential to the mystico-poetic tradition, is realized, actualized, literalized? How do readers and writers situate themselves with respect to texts that communicate sickness, especially when the texts engage the discourse of divinity? Despite their seemingly timeless appeal, these and other questions acquire immediacy and urgency in the crisis of representation (Simon Watney) and the brutality of idealization (Leo Bersani) that mark the age of AIDS. Brutally critical indeed: for even as AIDS has...

  23. Afterword
    (pp. 397-420)
    Naomi Lindstrom

    Bodies and Biases: Sexualities in Hispanic Cultures and Literatures,the newest volume in the Hispanic Issues series, chooses as its terrain a thematic area that spreads out across literature, culture, society, and experience itself. It is difficult to think of any aspect of human life that is not potentially sexualized and, hence, potentially raw material for the cultural representation of sexualities.

    Accordingly, the first problem thatBodies and Biasesleaves open for each author to resolve is the identification of a text or corpus of texts whose examination will reveal aspects of the culture’s expression of sexuality. Of the volumes...

  24. Contributors
    (pp. 421-424)
  25. Index
    (pp. 425-440)