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A Contracorriente: Objectives
Objectives of Our Journal | Español

A crisis in literary theory has been taking place since the relative decline of poststructuralism and postmodernism as pseudo left-wing explanatory models for literary life. As we see it, there were two crucial turning points leading up to the predicament in literary theory: the Paul de Man controversy, that linked one of the leaders of deconstruction with fascist collaboration, and the scandal elicited by Alan Sokal’s hoax article published in Social Text and later elaborated on in Fashionable Nonsense: Postmodern Intellectuals’ Abuse of Science. These two defining moments demonstrated that poststructuralism and postmodernism rested on the foundation of philosophical relativism. As damaging as the de Man and Sokal affairs were in showing the dangers of this relativism, other problems emerged as well, such as: the opacity of literary-critical language and, consequently, the dwindling readership; the downplaying of sociohistorical factors in shaping literature; the fetishism of the text and of language games; and the constant exploring of essentialized concepts such as “the Other.”

Criticism on Latin American literature in U.S. universities has adopted many of these critical categories. Indeed, we could say that poststructuralism and postmodernism have held sway in the U.S. and have been the rite of theoretical initiation for students and professors in academe. Since Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe’s work had its impact in the 1980s, post-Marxism has had a considerable influence in the field, followed by Subaltern Studies and postcolonialism. These research approaches emerge out of poststructuralism and postmodernism and, thus, are wrought with similar problems. Moreover, postcolonialism and Subaltern Studies, have commonly eschewed their Marxist origins, particularly the brilliant sociohistorical and political analyses of Antonio Gramsci.

While postcolonialism, Subaltern Studies, Lacanianism and post-Marxism more generally have left a major mark on Latin American studies in U.S. universities, the same cannot be said of their Latin American counterparts. Their advocates would be hard pressed to come up with names of major critics adhering to these cultural schools in Latin America. One thinks of a few individuals who have had some weight on the field: Nelly Richard, José Joaquin Brunner, Jesús Martín Barbero, and Carlos Monsivais. However, there are relatively few renowned scholars working from a postcolonialist and post-Marxist vantage point.

A Contracorriente: A Journal on Social History and Literature in Latin America is a journal that fosters intellectual debate regarding Latin American Culture and Literature with a sociological and historical scope. We welcome gender, Marxist, sociological, and cultural studies which depart from the isms since the 1950s and which delve into particular historical, political and cultural moments and explore the role of ideology in the formation of the Latin American Culture and Literature.