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Emerging postcolonial discourses in Spanish America: The case of “Revista Gris”

Clara Eugenia Ronderos, University of Massachusetts Amherst


At the end of the nineteenth century, Spanish language and literary tradition were still a form of intellectual colonization for the inhabitants of the newly formed Hispanic American republics. This dissertation proposes a theoretical approach to examine the modernista movement. By examining discursive formations, a reflection about the emergence of a postcolonial subjectivity in premodernista and modernista texts becomes available. This dissertation develops a poststructural view of modernismo as a postcolonial movement. It argues that the construction of subjectivity in the textual world of the modernistas repositioned Spanish Americans with respect to Spanish cultural domination. Analysis shows the ways in which modernista texts appropriated and transformed Western hegemonic literary discourses through translation or rewriting, thus affecting language and discourse. The resulting texts created an original literary form of Spanish different from peninsular that critics recognize as crucial in the formation of a Spanish American literary voice. In this work I examine extensively one literary journal ("revista literaria"), Revista Gris (1892-96) from Bogotá, Colombia. I identify the emergence of aesthetic discourses and practices that appropriated European models and ideas in different ways for nationalist or cosmopolitan postcolonial agendas. Although many of these discourses and practices were still mostly romantic, an epistemological shift was taking place. The analysis of Gris is focused on three types of texts: theoretical and critical essays, original poetry, and translations. Briefly, I also look at the way in which some of the aesthetic discourses and translation strategies from Gris reappear in Revista Azul from Mexico City, Mexico (1894-96). This short overview of Azul examines only discursive formations in critical and theoretical texts and translations. Contrasting Azul and Gris situates Gris within a wider Spanish American context and provides insight into later consolidation of emerging discourses and practices observed in Gris. The analysis of revista material demonstrates that, within a postcolonial dynamic to decolonize cultural production, Spanish American literature at the end of the nineteenth century was in a constant tension between acceptance and resistance, and imitation and subversion of paradigms which resulted in a very peculiar form of cosmopolitan expression. Cosmopolitism was to become one of the idiosyncratic elements of Latin American identity.

Subject Area

Latin American literature

Recommended Citation

Ronderos, Clara Eugenia, "Emerging postcolonial discourses in Spanish America: The case of “Revista Gris”" (2005). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3193938.