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Latinx Modernisms

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Organizer: John Cutler

Co-Organizer: Yolanda Padilla

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This seminar proposes to explore Latinx modernism(s) as a set of challenges both to modernist studies broadly construed and to Latinx literary studies internally. A handful of Latinx studies scholars have done significant work examining Latinx literature and culture in light of both philosophical and materialist frameworks of modernity, ranging from José Aranda’s essay on archival collisions and Mexican American modernity in The Latino Nineteenth Century to Ramón Saldívar’s extended consideration of the Mexican-American writer Américo Paredes in The Borderlands of Culture (2006) to Laura Lomas’s re-consideration of José Martí as a “migrant Latino subject” in Translating Empire (2009). These works complement scholarship by modernist studies scholars such as Christopher Schedler, Joshua Miller, Monika Kaup, and Harris Feinsod that attempts to incorporate Latinx cultural production into broader accounts of Anglo-American or transnational modernism. Despite these efforts—and despite the now decades-long commitment of new modernist studies to recovering the contributions of working class, ethnic and racialized writers and artists to modernist movements—Latinx cultural production continues to occupy a marginal place in modernist studies.

 

Our seminar seeks both to account for and counter this marginalization by limning the boundaries of various Latinx modernisms. Papers might respond to one or more of the following questions: How do Latinx aesthetics challenge traditional periodizations of modernism, or challenge our assumptions about modernity and the avant-garde? What are the temporal and conceptual parameters of theories of modernity that have been central to Latinx cultural production and criticism? What productive sites of textual circulation, human migration, and artistic influence can put US Latinx cultural production into generative relation with Latin American modernismo and vanguardismo, Anglo American modernism, and other ethnic or racialized modernisms? What purchase have Latinx cultural critics found in concepts such as Lomas’s “imperial modernity,” José David Saldívar’s “frontier modernism,” and Christopher Schedler’s “border modernism”? What are the important forms of Latinx modernist cultural production (referring both to material production in newspapers, books, magazines, films, music, etc., and to matters of form at the level of individual texts and genres)?

 

Finally, we welcome papers that consider the contributions and dilemmas of “recovery.” These might include examinations of the Recovering the US-Hispanic Literary Heritage Project in light of its recent 25th anniversary, or critical genealogies of particular Latinx writers (such as Mena, Paredes, or Ruiz de Burton) or textual editions (such as LARB’s edition of Facundo Bernal’s A Stab in the Dark).

 

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