Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants

Title

Between the Local and the Universal: The Radical Eccentricity of the Postumista Movement

Department

Modern Languages & Literatures Department

College

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Disciplines

Arts and Humanities

Abstract

The influence of European avant-garde movements on Latin American writers of the 1920s entails what can be aptly described as an intrinsic paradox. What was in essence a reflection of Europes privileged standing in the Latin American imaginary became an opportunity to affirm the regions cultural emancipation from its old colonial powers. Critic Roberto González Echevarría has linked this desire to discover a new consciousness, devoid of the rationalistic strictures of European thought, to the work of the German philosopher Oswald Spengler, whose book The Decline of the West (1918) achieved great popularity throughout Latin America. Encouraged by Spenglers relativistic interpretation of culture, which proclaimed the inevitable end of Western civilization and the ascent of the primitive peoples, Latin American poets and essayists sought to distance themselves from Europe and embraced the regions difference. Among the first to embark in this enterprise were the members of a Dominican literary current known as Postumismo. In this paper, I examine how the Postumista poets dealt with the paradox at the core of the Latin American avant-garde movement. I argue that in challenging the Eurocentric view of culture that dominated the Latin American artistic landscape, the Postumistas project not only marked a rupture with the European canon, but also with the very modernist aesthetics from which the group had sprung.

Conference Name

ACLA 2014 Annual Meeting

Conference Location

New York City

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