A Modern Theory and the Conscious Amnesia of Latin Americanist Thought
Year of Publication: 2009
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2009. XIV, 250 pp.
ISBN 978-1-4331-0440-4 hardback (Hardcover)
Weight: 0.490 kg, 1.080 lbs
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Excess Baggage investigates how we read modern theory, how we apprehend Latin American culture through that theory, why this approach is flawed, and how our reading could be different. It is a study of modernity's supersessive, paradoxical attempts to outthink thought. This methodology, never autochthonous to any context despite its claims, is traced through one of its more extreme moments, the Enlightenment, and then through the work of Freud, Nietzsche, and Marx (and their more recent postmodern acolytes) to the Reformation. Although these thinkers are self-differentiating, the divisions are artificial, for each, even in present formats, references a preternatural origin that is subsequently projected into the future, disavowing history's ability to perceive itself as anything other than revolutionary.
This book traces post-1960 Latin Americanism through readings by its critics-cum-theorists, as dictatorially assigning a univocal reading to a continent's cultural production, regardless of how ethical the theory may itself seem. Though predominantly a metacritical work, a reading of philosophy and its Latin Americanist manifestations, there is also comparative reading of European, North American, and Latin American literature.
Meaning has always existed in all such contexts, but is either eradicated or misread by the premises of our critical equipment. In fact or fiction, Excess Baggage appeals for an admission of contextualized mnemotechny, inevitable in thought regardless, and the real danger in the present milieu.
About the author(s)/editor(s)
The Author: Jonathan Pitcher teaches Latin American Studies at Bennington College, Vermont. His articles have appeared in Taíra, Revista Interamericana, and Confluencia, among others.
«Jonathan Pitcher is a formidably energetic and acute thinker who has set himself the ambitious task of assessing the status of literary theory in Latin American literary studies through a critique of some of the influential theorists themselves and some crucial Spanish-American novels of the 1960s and 1970s. He has accumulated an extraordinarily wide range of reading, both critical/theoretical and creative. Such a breadth of material has given him a lucid vantage point from which to assess the current state of the Hispanic field and write incisively about it.» (Jason Wilson, Professor Emeritus, University College London)
«An erudite and fascinating study that forces us to re-examine current orthodoxy in Latin Americanist criticism.» (Patricia D'Allemand, Associate Professor, Department of Hispanic Studies, Queen Mary, University of London)
American University Studies: Series 22, Latin American Literature. Vol. 29