Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Critical Disagreements: Conceptualizations of the Avant-Garde in the Argentine Novel
by Johnson, Matthew Steven, Ph.D., Indiana University, 2019, 311; 13864590
Abstract (Summary)

Critical Disagreements contributes to the re-thinking of aesthetic modernity in Latin America by studying the literary projects of three foundational Argentine novelists: Macedonio Fernández, Roberto Arlt, and Ricardo Piglia. It works from an initial opposition between two prominent narratives used in the historiography of modernism in the arts: a narrative of autonomization of art from life, in which modernism is driven by the impulse of purifying itself of external influence, and a narrative of reintegration of art with life, in which the principal objective of modernism is to lay bare, overcome, or erase the gap separating art from everyday social intercourse. While studies of modernism often begin by proposing that either one or the other of these narratives constitutes the primary impulse guiding the historical process of artistic modernism, my dissertation maintains them in a relation of constitutive tension. It proposes that modernism is guided by a double imperative that takes the form of a paradox: art must become autonomous; art must become one with life. Working from this basic thesis, my dissertation re-reads the works of the two most significant Argentine novelists of the early 20th century (Macedonio and Arlt), as well as the reception of their works by writers of later generations, showing how their works navigate this paradox and resist reducing the relationship between art and life to an either/or question of autonomization or reintegration.

In recent scholarship in Latin American literary studies, increasingly strident assertions of art's essentially non-autonomous relation to contemporary life have repeatedly been challenged by critical perspectives that continue to insist that, in the words of German philosopher Theodor Adorno, "art's autonomy is irrevocable." Critical Disagreements traces a genealogy of these divergent understandings, using a revision of the literary history of Argentina to show how the relationship between autonomy and integration has been constitutive of the historical movement of modernism itself.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Dove, Patrick
Commitee: Birkenmaier, Anke, Mejías-López, Alejandro, Rasch, William, Vieira, Estela
School: Indiana University
Department: Spanish
School Location: United States -- Indiana
Source: DAI-A 80/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Modern literature, Latin American literature, Art history
Keywords: Latin American literature, Modernism, The Argentine novel, The Avant-Garde
Publication Number: 13864590
ISBN: 9781392147979
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