Reading North by South: On Latin American Literature, Culture, and Politics
Reading North by South was first published in 1995. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.
Neil Larsen is concerned with misleading interpretations of literature and culture that dominate Latin American studies in North America. In Reading North by South he attempts to correct the distorted views that have prevailed by proposing the need for a freshly conceived historical materialist approach to Latin American texts and cultural practices.
Reading North by South opens with reflections on how North America has read Latin America since the advent of popular fiction from authors like Cortázar and García Márquez. Larsen argues that the North American academy tends to interpret Latin American texts through a postmodern lens of cultural politics that ignores historical realism, and he contends that more attention needs to be paid to historical and class issues. He provides insightful commentaries on political discourses, cultural events, films, and literary texts, and maintains that the canonization of the modernist aesthetic in the United States has resulted in a marginalization of writers and writing that reflect the historical realities of Latin American politics.
As it analyzes important points of debate within and outside of Latin American studies, Reading North by South draws upon a wide diversity of texts written in Portuguese, Spanish and English. Of particular interest is Larsen's discussion of writings from the Caribbean, an area that is not frequently included in Latin American studies. Reading North by South will lead readers to question the expectations and preconceptions that inform their readings of Latin American literature.
Neil Larsen is associate professor of Spanish and Latin American literature at Northeastern University. He is the author of Modernism and Hegemony: A Materialist Critique of Aesthetic Agencies (Minnesota, 1990), and editor of The Discourse of Power: Culture, Hegemony, and the Authoritarian State in Latin America (1983).