Ciphers of History: Latin American Readings for a Cultural Age / Edition 1

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Ciphers of History is a collection of seven classic essays written by the eminent Latin Americanist Enrico Mario Santí, compiled here in a single volume for the first time. Santí covers a broad range of topics in Latin American poetry, narrative, film, and intellectual history, with one brief excursion into Peninsular subject-matter: the Spanish Generation of 98's response to Spain's loss of Cuba in the Spanish-American War of 1898. The collection is defined by a bracing critique of dominant trends in current critical practice, and advocacy of an alternative methodology focused on the retrieval of local knowledge. Santí stresses reading as opposed to theory, and employs the notion of the "cipher" as a figure for "the ultimate ambivalence of interpretation." The essays are tied together by this common approach, which acts as both incisive challenge and demanding blue-print for the field of Latin American literary and cultural studies.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Ciphers of History, Professor Enrico Mario Santí's superb new book, will be a landmark for twenty-first century Latin American studies. With sophistication and rhetorical flair, Prof. Santí questions the underpinnings of contemporary cultural studies, dismantling the presumed empathy for the Other as a lack of attention to context. Probing the process of restitution throughout Latin American cultural history, each one of the chapters opens an interpretive key to a hidden archive, era, or national epic. The most powerful is, without a doubt, '98: Narcissism and Melancholy,' which nakedly reveals the after-effects of Spain's colonial heritage, even in post-1959 Cuba. With its innovative claim to understand local knowledge, Ciphers of History reshuffles the paradigm of 'Latinamericanism' while providing new ground for the discipline."--Adriana Méndez Rodenas, The University of Iowa

"Enrico Mario Santí's Ciphers of History: Latin American Readings for a Cultural Age is an eye opener for all specialists and students of Cultural Studies as well as of Latin American and Hispanic literatures. His provocative and broadly framed readings of foundational texts and interrogations of major voices such as Pablo Neruda, Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, Octavio Paz, Juan Rulfo and Cuban scholar Fernando Ortiz, both enrich us with a constructive challenge to contemporary academic discourse and brilliantly resurrect for us the notion of cultures as vital and specific phenomena."--Suzanne J. Levine, University of California, Santa Barbara

"A set of polemical essays written against the grain of dominant disciplinary views about Latin America in Cultural Studies. A plea for recreative memory nurtured in the reading of particular acts of literature. Santí hangs zeroes on Foucault as he ciphers meanings into life in the spirit of Derrida and the living flesh of Borges and Sor Juana."--Eduardo González, The Johns Hopkins University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781403970466
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Publication date: 12/10/2005
  • Series: New Concepts in Latino American Cultures Series
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.68 (d)

Meet the Author

Enrico Mario Santí has taught at Cornell and Georgetown and is currently the William T. Bryan Professor of Hispanic Studies at the University of Kentucky. He is the author of half a dozen books and serves on a number of editorial boards. His research has been supported over the years by fellowships from The Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars, the American Council of Learned Societies, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Philosophical Society, and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.

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Table of Contents

• Poetry and the Cold War: Pablo Neruda's "Canto general"
• This Land of Prophets: Walt Whitman in Spanish America
• Sor Juana, Octavio Paz and Poetics of Restitution
• Through the Grapevine: Rulfo, Garro and National Allegory
• 98: Narcissism and Melancholy
• After the Revolution: Strawberry and Chocolate, or the Politics of Reconciliation
• Fernando Ortiz: Counterpoint and Transculturation
• Appendix 1: Latinamericanism
• Appendix 2: The Neruda Whitmaniana

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