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Magic realism and social protest in Spanish America and the United States: These illusions called America

Jennifer Clare Rodgers, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Magic realism emerged as a literary force in Latin America in the 1940s, and it has continued to have an impact on literature throughout the Americas through the start of the twenty-first century. In recent years, a number of postcolonial scholars have noted that magic realist texts are being used as a form of social protest throughout the world. These scholars have labeled magic realism subversive, hybrid, mestizo, or “impure.” The implications of the relationship between magic realist literature and social protest, however, have not been the focus of detailed scholarship. This study explores the relationship between magic realism and social protest in novels written in Latin America and the United States between 1950 and 1990, seeking to determine why the literary mode of magic realism is an effective vehicle for addressing volatile social issues. Organized chronologically, the study begins with an overview of the term “magic realism” and a brief discussion of some of the important predecessors of magic realist literature in the Americas. Later chapters use a range of theoretical tools within a comparative framework in order to perform detailed analysis of specific writers—Juan Rulfo, Elena Garro, Gabriel García Márquez, Isabel Allende, Rudolfo Anaya, Alma Luz Villanueva, Toni Morrison, and Linda Hogan—in order to explore how magic realist techniques have been adapted to different forms of protest according to each author's time and geographical space.

Subject Area

Comparative literature|Latin American literature|American literature

Recommended Citation

Rodgers, Jennifer Clare, "Magic realism and social protest in Spanish America and the United States: These illusions called America" (2002). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3056274.