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Document Type:Latin Dissertation
Language of Document:English
Record Number:52472
Doc. No:TL22426
Call number:‭3383288‬
Main Entry:Matthew James Losada
Title & Author:Avatars of a binary: Civilization or barbarism from Sarmiento to contemporary SpainMatthew James Losada
College:University of California, Berkeley
Date:2009
Degree:Ph.D.
student score:2009
Page No:217
Abstract:My dissertation, Avatars of a Binary: Civilization or Barbarism from Sarmiento to Contemporary Spain , explores the surprising resilience of the civilization-barbarism binary in Argentina and Spain from the 19th to the 21st century. The binary's numerous uses are examined in a variety of cultural modalities including essays, chronicles, theater, the Nuevo Cine of the 1960s on both sides of the Atlantic, and contemporary festival films. Many themes attach themselves to this ancient duality, chief among which are progress and modernity, on one hand, and anti-modernity on the other. The study opens with a diachronic survey of the shifts in the meaning of the barbaric in Europe, and of the varied inflections given to the associated concepts of civilization and the primitive, from ancient times to the present. It then moves on to explore selected cultural manifestations of these concepts along two, parallel tracks, those of Argentina and Spain. Chapter II examines how the vast interior of Argentina--emblemized in the image of the Conquista del desierto on the current hundred peso note--has been represented in words and images as both a cultural void (the antithesis of Europe's plenitude of civilization) and as a primitivist construction of national essence, in the figure of the gaucho. The dissertation looks back at how the idea of the primitive--with or without the writer's intentions--tends to destabilize the modernizing project, primarily in Domingo F. Sarmiento's Facundo and Lucio V. Mansilla's Una excursión a los indios ranqueles. In Facundo the primitive forms a fictional outside that questions the civilization-barbarism duality used to justify the ethically problematic aspects of modernizing the country. In Mansilla's Una excursión an aesthetizing gaze is employed to construct a primitivism that aligns the European ancien régime with the indigenous American--an anti-modern gesture that calls into question the Argentine civilizing project. Chapter III contextualizes film in the Argentine cultural field and considers ways in which cinema, in combination with modern technologies of transport, has problematized the binary (now become a cultural cliché) by means of strategies that resist the tight emplotment that characterizes classical film. The films studied bracket the classical period, during which the interior of the country was largely reduced to a backdrop on which struggles involving civilization and barbarism were fought. Close readings are offered of Humberto Cairo's Nobleza gaucha (1915), Fernando Birri's Tire dié (1958) and Los inundados (1961) and Lisandro Alonso's Los muertos (2004). The parallel Spanish track begins in Chapter IV by exploring anti-modern space in Ramón Maria del Valle-Inclán's Comedias bárbaras --a cycle of plays published between 1907 and 1923. The Galician playwright initially charged space with an anti-modern valence, mixing bucolic scenes with quasi-feudal settings from which the idea of progress was banished. As the cycle of plays unfolded, however, the dramatic space took on Dionysian overtones, revealing the earlier settings to be merely comforting illusions that portended a nihilist fall into grotesque modernity. The last chapter, devoted to Peninsular cinema, examines the work of two Catalan filmmakers, Pere Portabella and José Luis Guerin. The section on Portabella re-engages with Valle-Inclán's critique of the pre-modern as a comforting illusion, analyzing how his formally experimental films Cuadecuc-Vampir (1970) and Umbracle (1972) undo the conventions of the horror genre to question the use of fear in films made in support of Franco's traditionalist regime. The dissertation closes by proposing that Guerin's films, Unas fotos en la ciudad de Sylvia (2007) and En la ciudad de Sylvia (2007), constitute a new politicization of the cinema of democratic Spain which, after the death of Franco, had been remade (and depoliticized) on the Hollywood model. Befitting the visual age we all live in, Guerin's Sylvia films recast the political as an "ethics of seeing" in a post-national, globalized Europe.
Subject:Language, literature and linguistics; Civilization; Barbarism; Spain; Sarmiento, Domingo F.; Argentina; Mansilla, Lucio V.; Cairo, Humberto; Birri, Fernando; Alonso, Lisandro; Comparative literature; Latin American literature; Romance literature; 0295:Comparative literature; 0312:Latin American literature; 0313:Romance literature
Added Entry:D. Dougherty
Added Entry:University of California, Berkeley