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Marco Antonio Villarruel Oviedo


International Research Training Group 'Temporalities of Future in Latin America'

Dynamics of Aspiration and Anticipation

PhD Candidate

Project: "On Literary Tradition: A Latin American Discussion"

Project: "On Literary Tradition: A Latin American Discussion"

Against several metropolitan literary conceptualizations, the idea of a Latin American literary tradition, and its subsidiary notion, the canon, has been scrutinized in a very sporadic fashion. This can possibly be attributed to a supposedly polycentric and expansive spirit of Latin American literature, whose critical efforts had, during foundational moments, a solid will to define it as an aesthetical endeavor based on self-determination and an estrangement of colonial influences.

Although the mainstream approach on literary tradition can lead to the conservative emphasis that prioritizes the need of a literary custody of literary heritage rather than regarding it as a field of political and aesthetical confrontations, this doctoral dissertation seeks to conceptualize a Latin American definition of literary tradition drawing upon discussions and controversies that shape it as an “apparatus of futures”: More than a constraint on the assemblage of a canonical list, Latin American literary criticism attempted to establish an initiation point intending to designate possible future literary pathways. Following this, José Carlos Mariátegui´s understanding on the idea of literary tradition will be assessed, with particular attention on the texts that reflect his open dissension against the figure and literary works of José de la Riva Agüero, a then-prominent Peruvian conservative and Hispanic scholar. After this, the bitter controversy between Julio Cortázar and José María Arguedas will shed light on the antagonisms of the idea of Latin America´s aesthetical legacy, as well as the one that confronted Mario Vargas Llosa and Ángel Rama, who had a strong confrontation about the nature of literary creation in Latin America during the first years of the seventies. Finally, the dissertation will reach its end with an analysis of literary repositioning and canonizing strategies coming from the area that has been most concerned about erecting a matrix of ultimate historical and aesthetical texts: The U.S. academic system.

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