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Romance Languages and Literatures

El imperio pintado por sí mismo: Portraits of National and Gender Identity

Madeleine DeMeules (2014); Additional Collaborator(s): Cynthia Madrigal; Mentor(s): Mary Coffey

Abstract: In the early nineteenth century, a new genre of literature, costumbrismo, emerged throughout Spain and the Americas. Costumbrismo aims to depict the everyday characters typical of a nation through vignettes and accompanying illustrations. A focused comparison of costumbrista literature in collections from Spain (1843-44 & 1851), Cuba (1852), and Mexico (1854) reveals deeper themes than just social portraits. These collections actually illuminate the political relationships between Spain and these colonial entities. When examined through a lens of post-colonial theory, the Spanish and Mexican collections dialogue politely and offer similarities between these two nations, as Mexico has already garnered independence. Cuba, however, clashes with Spain as this still colonial island is just beginning to rebel against Spanish authority and create its own identity. Beyond these post-colonial relationships, costumbrismo literature offers many more areas for future analysis of these countries and their literature, such as gender politics and questions of religion.
Funding Provided by: Pomona College SURP