Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Free love in Montevideo. Roberto de las Carreras and the development of erotic anarchism in 1900
by Wasem, Marcos, Ph.D., City University of New York, 2013, 416; 3549082
Abstract (Summary)

The works of Uruguayan Modernista Roberto de las Carreras, scandalous in their day and often dismissed by the critical tradition as the work of a “godless dandy”, a self-promoter and a madman, intersect in suggestive ways with anarchist politics flourishing at the turn of the twentieth century. Through the work of Carreras Free Love in Montevideo studies the implications of this intersection between the work of a dandy, pornographer and self-proclaimed aesthete and the radical political movements of his day.

An active promoter of “free love” theories developed during the early years of the last century, Carreras was drawn to the anarchist politics of his day, more specifically to debates on the topic of sexualities and their diverse cultural manifestations. Free Love in Montevideo focuses on a set of cultural, textual productions whose interaction with the more radical politics of the day has been largely overlooked by the critical tradition. The dissertation brings a new understanding of the period by expanding on the premise that the anarchist and labor movements had a significant role in shaping the ethos of Latin American Modernismo.

The first chapter discusses critical inquiries on the topic of Modernista ambiguities around sexual and aesthetic normativities and attempts to recover the movement’s utopian dimensions, basing its arguments on Jameson’s proposal of “positive hermeneutics” and on Eagleton’s study on the political implications of “ideologies of the aesthetic,” often dismissed in the case of Latin American Modernismo to the airless closet of “art for art’s sake.” The second chapter focuses on the first poems published by De las Carreras and on his European and North African chronicles and examines Marxist analyses of Modernista cultural markets, building on Agamben’s depiction of the relationship of the dandy with commodities as an alternative to market economy and as a quest for tentative approaches to queer subjectivities.

The third chapter examines the idea of free love as embraced by the anarchist movement, which De las Carreras’ pornographic books promoted, in order to contextualize debates on gender and nation-building in this period. The fourth chapter is based in part on Bataille’s proposal of a “general economy,” as a way to study the display of new graphic technologies in books by Carreras, luxuriously produced objects in some cases, and to understand his own utopia of mystical eroticism. The last chapter deals with the reception of his work, largely marginalized from the Modernista canon by virtue of his own resistance to commodification, arguing that it was largely the result of his alliance with anarchist publishers.

The recovery of De las Carreras’ works in this broader context reveals how hegemonic notions of nation and gender at the turn of the century were contested by intellectuals engaged in the utopian projects advanced and embraced by labor movements and other radical movements of the period.

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Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Montero, Oscar
Commitee: Martinez, Elena, Mercado, Juan Carlos, Montaldo, Graciela, Tinajero, Araceli
School: City University of New York
Department: Hispanic & Luso Brazilian Literatures & Languages
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 74/05(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Modern literature, Latin American literature, Latin American history
Keywords: Amor libre, Anarquismo, Carreras, Roberto de las, Erotic anarchism, Feminismo, Free love, Literatura, Modernismo, Poesia, Uruguay
Publication Number: 3549082
ISBN: 9781267852090
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