The Comparative Literature Undergraduate Journal

A Premier Humanities Research Journal at the University of California, Berkeley

Vol. 2(2): Spring 2012 Special Issue

Vol. 2(2): Spring 2012
Special Issue: Latin America

Table of Contents

A Note from the Editor-in-Chief

Queer Rights in Latin America
Wil Mumby, UC Berkeley

This article focuses on two different literary works that cover the topic of queer rights in Latin America: Pedro Lemebel’s My Tender Matador and Mario Bellatín’s Beauty Salon. The very different styles used by these two works are observed, contrasting vivid descriptions of Lemebel’s neo-baroque and phallic symbolism with Bellatín’s sparseness and ambiguity. As such, the article aims to uncover two depictions of gay life in Latin America: one as a representation of the oppressed locas in Santiago under the tyranny of gay mass culture and the hyper-masculine regime of Pinochet, the other an indication of how gays involved in the aforementioned mass culture coped with the onslaught of the AIDS epidemic.

The Flitting of an Image: Visual Dyslexia in Alfredo Jaar’s ‘The Eyes of Gutete Emerita’
Pelle Valentin Olsen, University of Copenhagen

In this essay I hope to destabilize the very tenacious misconception that there exists a direct link between seeing, deduction of meaning, and action. Furthermore, I will argue that suffering and pain can be of an unimaginable and incomprehensible character and therefore beyond representation. There exist, so to speak, images that cannot be read –images that escape the spectator. Thus, the rendering visible of this suffering poses serious challenges to spectatorship as well as to the person trying to represent and convey it, be it an artist, photographer, journalist or academic. Finally, and with Walter Benjamin as inspiration, this essay will analyze Alfredo Jaar’s installation, The Eyes of Gutete Emerita (1996), as an alternative mode of dealing with the problematic of rendering visible.

A Tragic and a Moving Beauty
Despina Bonadies, UC Berkeley

Several contemporary Chicana feminists have resurrected indigenous mythological traditions to contextualize and re-frame current gender identities and relationships by claiming an organic connection to aboriginal spirituality. In her novel, Sapogonia, author Ana Castillo draws upon the stories and image of Coatlicue, an Aztec goddess, to haunt the souls of her two protagonist lovers, Maximo Madrigal and Pastora Vealasquez Ake. By analyzing the original mythology that Castillo employs, addressing the potential pitfalls voiced by Chicana critics, and by examining Castillo’s specific employment of Coatlicue throughout the novel, this essay provides a standard by which to determine that Castillo effectively and appropriately represents the nature of the goddess and Aztec mythological tradition in Sapogonia.

Anotações sobre o cinema nas crônicas de Cyro dos Anjos
Mariana Oliveira, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais

Cyro dos Anjos (1906-1994) was a writer born in Montes Claros, Minas Gerais. In many of his essays, Cyro dealt with subjects such as the cinema as art and industry, the idealization of the Hollywood actresses and the drama in Charlie Chaplin films. This paper compares and contrasts Cyro’s essays with the writings of other Brazilian intellectuals from the same period, such as Carlos Drummond de Andrade, Vinicius de Moraes, Eduardo Frieiro and Manuel Bandeira, and analyzes them with the aid of the concepts found in essays of Walter Benjamin and Silviano Santiago. In this paper, an outline of the influence the movies had in the Brazilian culture in the 1930s is drawn.


Patriarchy, Politics, and Pornography
Katharine Henry, UC Berkeley

Patriarchy is often understood to have privileged men and damned women forever. But gender dynamics are more complex in the detective story of Desert Blood: The Juárez Murders where patriarchy is responsible for tearing society apart and oppression of every kind. In detective stories, the figure of the femme fatale is an attempt to pave an in-between space from the dominant sexual cultures in a narrative where isolated and hierarchical identity categories have allowed for the widespread massacre of a historically subordinate class of impoverished Mexican women from a historically ravaged nation.

Desert Blood: A Powerful Synthesis of Narrative Strategies
Erica Haggerty

The following paper is a discussion of Alicia Gaspar de Alba’s novel,  Desert Blood: the Juárez Murders, and her creative and purposeful use of narrative strategy to bring out particular aesthetic and social  features regarding the very real feminicides in Juárez that have and  continue to occur since 1993. I argue that her employment of the detective narrative with the use of subjective vocalization and the unity and tension between form and content in her work not only humanizes the Mexican women who have been made expendable commodities within their social milieu, but more importantly, it exerts a cogent shove toward working to end these acts of violence.