Oct 00 Nuala Finnegan


[Centre for Mexican Studies, UCC]

"Light Women/Light Literature: Women & Popular Fiction in Mexico since 1980"

The proliferation of fictional work published by women in recent years in Mexico has been well documented.  Writing predominantly (though by no means exclusively) what is often pejoratively termed “popular” literature, Ángeles Mastretta, Sara Sefchovich, Silvia Molina, Laura Esquivel, to name just a few, have successfully reawakened literary interest in Mexico.  Many of the fictional works published by these writers have been commercially and critically acclaimed both in Mexico and abroad.  This in turn has prompted a perhaps inevitable backlash by the Mexican literary establishment, best exemplified by the literary magazine Vuelta’s vitriolic issue of July 1992, entitled ‘En defensa de una literatura difícil’.  This paper will explore some of the ramifications of the debate provoked by this emergence of feminised popular fiction with its emphasis on womens’ experience within the context of feminist literary praxis.  To what extent have these works succeeded, as some critics maintain, in destabilising ‘la institución literaria’, a point eloquently illustrated by the intensity of the attack in Vuelta?  Has there indeed been a breakdown in literary hierarchies as a result of the new visibility of genres such as popular romantic fiction (but also testimonial writing, erotic literature and other so-called alternative forms of literature)?  Do the parameters of the feminist literary debate, often articulated in terms of the conflict between cultural production at the centre and periphery, contribute to an understanding of the contemporary literary situation in Mexico?  This paper will address these issues with particular reference to some of the work of Ángeles Mastretta, María Luisa Puga and Sara Sefchovich.

Friday, 20th October, 2000

4 p.m.

O'Rahilly Building, ORB 1.24

Followed by reception in ORB 1.51

Centre for Mexican Studies

Room 1.51, First Floor - Block B East, O'Rahilly Building, University College Cork Ireland