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Title: The Experiencer and the Reader in the Twentieth-Century Literatures of the Americas
Authors: Lawrence, Jeffrey
Advisors: Nouzeilles, Gabriela
Wood, Michael
Contributors: Comparative Literature Department
Subjects: Literature
American literature
Latin American literature
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: My dissertation, "The Experiencer and the Reader in the Twentieth-Century Literatures of the Americas," studies the centrality of discourses about experience and reading to the construction of the twentieth-century US and Latin American literary fields. Revisiting longstanding debates in the hemisphere about whether the source of authority for New World literature arises from the author's first-hand contact with American places and peoples or through a "creative (mis)reading" of existing traditions, the book charts a widening gap in how writers in the US and Latin American fields defined their literary authority beginning in the early twentieth century. I trace the rise of an aesthetics of experience in the United States in the 1920's and 1930's across literary modernism and pragmatist philosophy, paying particular attention to how Latin America increasingly figured as a new "field of experience" for US writers such as Katherine Anne Porter, Ernest Hemingway, Langston Hughes and Waldo Frank. At the same time, I argue that a strong anti-experiential discourse of writing-as-reading emerged in the Latin American modernismo and vanguardia movements during this period in part as a means of challenging, undermining, and revising this dominant US literary strain. My dissertation reconstructs the circuit of these discourses from their prehistory in the nineteenth century to their afterlife in the late twentieth century. Through close contextualized readings of a wide variety of genres and registers, including works of fiction, travel narratives, self-writing, cultural criticism and poetry, I demonstrate that the disparate expectations of what I call the "US literature of experience" and the "Latin American literature of reading" gave rise to a series of misunderstandings and "misencounters" across the North-South divide. In the four chapters of the dissertation, I examine the dynamic relationship between these two literary strains, showing how they conditioned both US-Latin American literary relations and cross-cultural representation throughout the hemisphere.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Comparative Literature

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