Practicing Memory In Central American Literature

Hardcover | March 15, 2010

byNicole Caso

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Through penetrating analysis of twentieth-century historical fiction from Central America this book asks: why do so many literary texts in the region address historical issues? What kinds of stories are told about the past when authors choose the fictional realm to represent history? Why access memory through fiction and poetry? Nicole Caso traces the active interplay between language, space, and memory in the continuous process of defining local identities through literature. Ultimately, this book looks to the dynamic between form and content to identify potential maps that are suggested in each of these texts in order to imagine possibilities of action in the future.

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Through penetrating analysis of twentieth-century historical fiction from Central America this book asks: why do so many literary texts in the region address historical issues? What kinds of stories are told about the past when authors choose the fictional realm to represent history? Why access memory through fiction and poetry? Nicole...

Nicole Caso is Assistant Professor of Spanish at Bard College. Her work has been published in scholarly journals such as Revista Iberoamericana and Istmo: Revista virtual de estudios literarios y culturales centroamericanos, and she has contributed to critical compilations analyzing the works of various novelists such as Manlio Arguet...
Format:HardcoverDimensions:300 pages, 9.72 × 5.69 × 0.98 inPublished:March 15, 2010Publisher:Palgrave MacmillanLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0230620361

ISBN - 13:9780230620360

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Table of Contents

PART I: The Isthmus * The Dubious Strait * An Epic of Resistance * The Strait as Palimpsest * The Wounds of 1954 * Historical Context * Historicality in Fiction * After the Bombs * PART II: The City * El Señor Presidente’s Liberal City and the Modern Scriptural Economy * Subverting the Cabrerista Myth * Unlivable Places and Ineffable Experiences * The Effects of a Fragmented Narrative: Community and Alienation in the City * Fragmentation and the Search for Community * Fragmentation and Alienation * PART III: The Nation * Totalizing Narratives Written from the Margin: Julio Escoto’s Rey del Albor,Madrugada * The “Truth” Behind the Scenes: a Detective’s Quest * History as a Spiral of Resistance and Domination * Foundational Fictions: Reasserting National Identity in the Midst of Globalization * PART IV: The Other * Defining a Space of Shared Cultural Identity: the Pan-Maya Cultural Movement in Guatemala * The Center at the Margin: Rethinking the Role of the Non-Maya Intellectual * Border Crossings, Narratives of Duplicity, and Unstable Selves * Healing and Revitalization through Poetry * Conclusion

Editorial Reviews

"Scholarship on memory and history in Central American literature has tended to focus on the new Central American historical novel and/or the testimonio. By including analyses of short stories and poetry, Caso effectively argues that the space of the text, its form and aesthetic, enhance and reemphasize the author's historical vantage point . . . This is one of the book's greatest contributions to Central American literary studies, as it expands the generic limits of the traditionally studied historical novel and testimonio in the understanding of how the past is represented and problematized through literature." - Latino Studies "Memory, defined as Caso does, becomes also a powerful tool for the less privileged members of society to resist political impositions intended to create a space racially, politically, and intellectually homogenous.But what seems most remarkable about this book is not only its definition of the term memory but what follows: an innovative comprehension of the role of literature as an instrument for transforming an established idea of history in Central America . . . Caso's reading of the encounter of history and literature in Central America is certainly intelligent, well-written, and structurally solid." - The Latin Americanist"In this striking book, Caso explores Central American fiction as a productive site to fathom the complex project of Latin American modernity and developmentalism in the twentieth century. She meditates on what it means for a region to be considered an 'isthmus,' a passageway from elsewhere to elsewhere, a small unit of land that stands as a trope for Banana Republics, revolutions, or drug-trafficking. Rather than taking texts in isolation or reading them as representatives of the whole, Caso highlights instances of regional voices, listening to the 'sighs and whispers' that traditional historiographers exclude from their accounts. In Casos's reading, creativity becomes a tool for subverting official history, breaking the silencing of alternative understandings of what the nation and the region are supposed to represent. Literature thus plays a regenerative role and counters social complacency." - Arturo Arias, Professor, Department of Spanish and Portuguese, University of Texas at Austin"Caso's project focuses on the writing of history from different positions and textual practices; thus, her book not only "gives" the history of Central America but also examines the discursive constructions of 'history' in selected texts. We need more published scholarship on this literature, and this book will provide a much welcomed critical page in the corpus of Central American literary and cultural studies . . . it promises to be a significant contribution to the field." - Ana Patricia Rodríguez, Department of Spanish and Portuguese, University of Maryland, College Park and author of Dividing the Isthmus: Central American Transnational Histories, Literatures, and Cultures