Recent Publications

Re(De-)generando identidades

Re(De-)generando identidades: Locura, Feminidad Y Liberalizacion En Elena Garro, Susana Pagano, Ana Castillo Y Maria Amparo Escandon

by Ana Cruz García


This book examines the figure of the madwoman in four novels, two Mexican and two Mexican-American, published in the 1990s. The ubiquitous presence of the madwoman in Mexican culture has not passed unnoticed; indeed, at the beginning of the twenty-first century the writer Edmée Pardo talks about the so-called imaginario de la enfermedad to refer to the ever-present images of sick women, namely the madwoman, in Mexican women’s literature. However, to date there is no critical study that explores the relevance of this presence and/or its different manifestations. This book aims to fulfil this critical gap and also explore the difficulties that women writers still face when trying to liberate their female protagonists. Thus, whilst all the texts coincide in presenting the madwoman as a figure of rupture with behaviours and spaces traditionally associated with the feminine, the methods employed to construct this figure respond to two different conceptions of madness. In Garro and Págano, the madwoman largely corresponds to the concept of the abject that Julia Kristeva presents in her ground-breaking book, Powers of Horror. The madwoman is presented as a fragmented being which, in attempting to escape from an oppressive patriarchal system, ends up destroyed/abjected by that same order. However, in Castillo and Escandón she is constructed in a more positive and visionary way, more in accordance with the idea of the New Mestiza that Gloria Anzaldúa develops in her writing Borderland/La frontera. Thus, the madwoman is presented as a more superior and rational being and madness represents a journey towards darkness which is nevertheless necessary in order to reach clarity and completeness. 


Este libro examina la figura de la loca en cuatro novelas publicadas en los años noventa, dos mexicanas y dos mexicano-americanas. La presencia ubicua de la loca en la cultura mexicana ha sido desde siempre destacada y, por ejemplo, la escritora Edmée Pardo a principios del siglo XXI habla del llamado imaginario de la enfermedad para referirse a la omnipresencia de mujeres enfermas, principalmente la loca, en la literatura mexicana producida por mujeres. Sin embargo, hasta ahora no existe ningún estudio crítico que explore la relevancia de esta presencia y/o sus diferentes manifestaciones. Este libro intenta llevar dicho vacío crítico al mismo tiempo que también explora las dificultades a las que las escritoras aún se enfrentan para crear protagonistas liberalizadas e independientes. Mientras que todos los textos presentan a la loca como una figura de quiebra contra comportamientos y espacios tradicionalmente asociados a lo femenino, los métodos empleados para llevar a cabo tal tarea responden a dos concepciones diferentes de la locura. En Garro y Págano, la representación de la loca se atiene al concepto de lo abyecto que presenta por Julia Kristeva en su obra Powers of Horror. Es un ser fragmentado que al intentar escapar de un orden patriarcal asfixiante acaba siendo destruida por ese mismo sistema. Sin embargo, en Castillo y Escandón la loca es construida en términos positivos y visionarios, más en relación con la idea de la Nueva Mestiza que Gloria Anzaldúa desarrolla en Borderland/La frontera. La loca es así presentada como un ser superior y racional y la locura como una viaje hacia una oscuridad que es, no obstante, necesaria para poder alcanzar posteriormente una claridad absoluta.

Mothers and Daughters in Post-Revolutionary Mexican Literature

by Teresa Hurley


Nellie Campobello, Rosario Castellanos, Elena Garro and Elena Poniatowska, all born in the first half of the twentieth century, explore in a unique genre - a combination of memoir, autobiography and historical novel - some of the myths about women current in Mexico at the time. Prime among these is that of the madre abnegada, the self-sacrificing mother, devoted exclusively to her children at the expense of her own fulfilment. In this study the mothers' dissenting voices are exposed, as are the feelings of the daughters who appear devoted to their mothers but feel resentment at what they perceive as their mother's emotional distance. The antithesis of the madre abnegada is the mujer mala, the whore, a notion the author also questions by revealing the complexity of the mother-daughter relationship, through which women may perpetuate their own oppression. Highlighting the voice of the 'other', Mothers and Daughters reveals the broad spectrum of people (children, the indigenous, the poor, the impoverished landed gentry, as well as women) who found themselves excluded from the material benefits of reform and progress that followed the Revolution.

The Boom Femenino in Mexico: Reading Contemporary Women's Writing

Edited by Nuala Finnegan and Jane E. Lavery


'The Boom Femenino in Mexico: Reading Contemporary Women's Writing' is a collection of essays that focuses on literary production by women in Mexico over the last three decades. In its exploration of the boom femenino phenomenon, the book traces the history of the earlier boom in Latin American culture and investigates the implications of the use of the same term in the context of contemporary women's writing from Mexico. In this way it engages critically with the cultural, historical and literary significance of the term illuminating the concept for a wide range of readers. It is clear that the entry of so many women writers into an arena traditionally reserved for men has prompted discussion around concepts such as 'women's writing' and the very definition of 'literature' itself. Many of the contributors grapple with the theoretical tensions that such debates provoke offering an important opportunity to think critically about the texts produced during this period and the ways in which they have impacted on the Mexican and international cultural spheres. The project is comprehensive in its scope and, for the first time, brings together scholars from Mexico, the U.S. and Europe in a transnational forum. The book posits that despite certain aesthetic and thematic commonalities, the increased output by women writers in Mexico cannot be appraised as a unified literary movement. Instead it embraces a wide range of different generic forms and the subjects under study in the essays in the book include the best-selling work of Angeles Mastretta, Elena Poniatowska and Laura Esquivel as well as the social and political preoccupations of journalists, Rosanna Reguillo and Cristina Pacheco. Contributors offer readings of the aesthetic visions of writers as diverse as Carmen Boullosa, Ana Garcia Bergua, and Eve Gil while other essays examine the nuances of contemporary gender identity in the work of Ana Clavel, Sabina Berman, Brianda Domecq and Maria Luisa Puga. There are essays devoted to poetry by indigenous Mayan women and an analysis of the complex place of poetry within the broader framework of literary production. The problems that emerge as a result of literary cataloguing based on gender politics are also considered at length in a number of essays that take a panoramic view of literary production over the period. Various critical approaches are employed throughout and the collection as a whole demonstrates that academic interest in Mexican women's writing of the boom femenio is thriving. Above all, the essays here provide a space in which the location of women within prevailing cultural paradigms in Mexico and their role in the mapping of power in evolving textual canons may be interrogated. It is clear from the collection that interest in such issues is still alive and that the debate is far from over.

Centre for Mexican Studies

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