Thresholds of Illiteracy: Theory, Latin America, and the Crisis of Resistance (Just Ideas)

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9780823257096: Thresholds of Illiteracy: Theory, Latin America, and the Crisis of Resistance (Just Ideas)
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Thresholds of Illiteracy reevaluates Latin American theories and narratives of cultural resistance by advancing the concept of “illiteracy” as a new critical approach to understanding scenes or moments of social antagonism. “Illiteracy,” Acosta claims, can offer us a way of talking about what cannot be subsumed within prevailing modes of reading, such as the opposition between writing and orality, that have frequently been deployed to distinguish between modern and archaic peoples and societies.

This book is organized as a series of literary and cultural analyses of internationally recognized postcolonial narratives. It tackles a series of the most important political/aesthetic issues in Latin America that have arisen over the past thirty years or so, including indigenism, testimonio, the Zapatista movement in Chiapas, and migration to the United States via the U.S.–Mexican border.

Through a critical examination of the “illiterate” effects and contradictions at work in these resistant narratives, the book goes beyond current theories of culture and politics to reveal radically unpredictable forms of antagonism that advance the possibility for an ever more democratic model of cultural analysis.

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About the Author:


Abraham Acosta is Associate Professor of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of
Arizona.

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"Thresholds of Illiteracy addresses the most important and controversial issues facing contemporary Latin American studies. The author offers a superb summary of the past thirty years of research within Latin Americanism and, through careful readings of Latin American and European poststructuralist theory, advances this research in a novel fashion, creating a work that will greatly interest all scholars in the field."--Brett Levinson, Binghamton University

"Thresholds of Illiteracy aims at breaking the impasse between orality and literacy that for many years has shaped important areas of Latin American cultural and literary studies. This important book, covering an impressive archive of standard studies on the topic and the most recent critical analyses, will be a staple critical resource for anyone studying Latin America from the colonial period to the present."--Ivonne del Valle, University of California, Berkeley

"Acosta is fearless. Breathing new life into the well-worn contradictions of philosophical abstraction and political practice, speech and writing, hegemony and subalternity, he doesn't settle for splitting the difference. With nuance, verve, erudition and extraordinary breadth, Thresholds of Illiteracy brings a heterodox approach to old debates and goes a long way toward clearing the ground for a re-engaged Latin Americanism to come. This book represents the best of a new generation of critical-theoretical work on Latin American cultural politics."--Joshua Lund, University of Pittsburgh

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