Critical Passions

Selected Essays

Critical Passions

Post-Contemporary Interventions

More about this series

Book Pages: 552 Illustrations: Published: November 1999

Cultural Studies, Gender and Sexuality > Feminism and Women’s Studies, Latin American Studies

Jean Franco’s work as a pathbreaking theorist, cultural critic, and scholar has helped to define Latin American studies over the last three decades. In the process, Franco has played a crucial role in developing cultural studies in both the English- and Spanish-speaking worlds. Critical Passions is the first volume to gather a wide-ranging selection of Franco’s influential essays.
A key participant in the major debates in Latin American studies—beginning with the “boom” period of the 1960s and continuing through debates on ideology and discourse, Marxism, mass culture, and postmodernism—Franco is recognized for her feminist critique of Latin American writing. While her principal books are all readily available, Franco’s several dozen articles are dispersed in a variety of periodicals in Latin America, Europe, and the United States. Although many of these essays are considered pioneering and classic, they have never before been collected in a single work. In this volume, Mary Louise Pratt and Kathleen Newman have organized the essays into four interrelated sections: feminism and the critique of authoritarianism, mass and popular culture, Latin American literature from the “boom” onward, and the cultural history of Mexico. As a group, these writings demonstrate Franco’s ability to reflect on and judge with equal seriousness all spheres of expression, whether subway graffiti, a fashion manual, or an avant-garde haiku. A bona fide fan of popular and mass media, Franco never allows her critiques to dissolve into the puritanical or reductive; instead, she finds ways to present and debate complex theoretical questions in direct and accessible language.
This volume will draw an extensive readership in Latin American, cultural, and women’s studies.


Critical Passions is undoubtedly the best place to turn in order to sample a vast array of previously dispersed works by one of the most influential, tireless, original and engaged scholars of Latin American literature. . . . Critical Passions is that rare sort of book that pays homage to a brilliant critic without obliterating the multiple registers of her own voice. . . . Franco writes briliantly without need for deciphering, which makes the five hundred pages of Critical Passions a joy to read and reread.” — Elzbieta Sklodowska, MLN

“Not only a crowning achievement to a spectacular career but also provides a vivisectional view of the field of Latin American studies as it has developed over the past three decades. . . . This collection of essays provides a distinctive contribution to the field because it allows us not only to see where we have been, but to look critically through Franco’s unflinching eyes at where we are today.” — Kate Jenckes, Nepantla

“Franco’s scholarly efforts prove as subversive as the unruly maps of the western hemisphere that invert south and north, confronting observers with a geographical looking glass that contests parochial explanations.” — V. Daniel Rogers, American Quarterly

“Jean Franco is one of the most important American scholars to devote an entire career to disseminating Latin American literatures among readers of English. Her work has also been recognized as essential reading by many Latin American scholars. Thus, a collection of essays could not be more welcome than Critical Passions. . . . [A] landmark of Latin American criticism, and ought to be read by everyone who is interested in cultural matters, even those outside this field.” — Marcus Vinicius Freitas, World Literature Today

“Recognized for her feminist critique of Latin American writing, Jean Franco participated in major debates in Latin American studies—beginning with the ‘boom’ period of the 1960s and continuing through debates on ideology and discourse, Marxism, mass culture, and postmodernism. These essays demonstrate Franco’s ability to reflect on and judge with equal seriousness all spheres of expression.” — Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education

“The essays in Critical Passions represent the impressive range and analytical depth of Jean Franco’s work; at the same time they demonstrate the extent to which she employs history as a basis for her analysis and criticism of literature, art, politics, and popular culture. They are uniformly well written and copiously documented with notes. The editors have made a most valuable contribution to the field of Latin American studies by making these articles readily accessible, and the book would make a significant addition to the library of any Latin Americanist.” — Joseph R. Farrell, Hispanic American Historical Review

"Jean Franco's contribution to the field of Latin American studies cannot be underestimated. With three decades of scholarship she has become one of the most respected voices both inside and outside Latin America. Yet somewhat surprisingly this work is the first attempt to bring together her most important essays. . . It is a fitting tribute to the work of someone who has devoted thirty years of study to the field whose literature, history, and culture have indeed become her 'critical passions'." — British Bulletin of Publications on Latin America

“A formidable compendium of Franco’s critical thought, attesting to the evolution of a brilliant avant-garde intellectual who has set the pace for serious inquiry in the Latin American field as we know it today. Critical Passions is not simply a tribute to Franco but an urgent recounting of the progression of a field of study that she has helped shape.” — Francine Masiello, author of Between Civilization and Barbarism: Women, Nation, and Literary Culture in Modern Argentina

“Pratt and Newman have done the critical readership an immense service by collecting these far-flung essays by one of our foremost critics. This learned feminist touches upon issues of history and identity, of cultural politics and the study of globality, from a political perspective that remains resolutely focused on social justice.” — Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, author of A Critique of Postcolonial Reason: Toward a History of the Vanishing Present

“The essays collected in this volume reflect the range, innovativeness, theoretical clarity, and analytical power that have made Jean Franco’s work a beacon of light in the study of Latin American culture.” — Susan Kirkpatrick, author of Las Romanticas: Women Writers and Subjectivity in Spain


Availability: In stock
Price: $33.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Jean Franco is Professor Emerita of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. She is the winner of the 1996 PEN award for lifetime contribution to disseminating Latin American literature in English, and has been recognized by both the Chilean and Venezuelan governments with the Gabriela Mistral Medal and the Andres Bello Medal for advancing literary scholarship on Latin American literature in the United States. Her previous books include Plotting Women: Gender and Representation in Mexico, César Vallejo: The Dialectics of Poetry and Silence, and A Literary History of Spain and Spanish.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments vii

Introduction: The Committed Critic / Mary Louise Pratt and Kathleen Newman 1

1 Feminism and the Critique of Authoritarianism 9

2 Mass and Popular Culture 133

3 Latin American Literature: The Boom and Beyond 233

4 Mexico 429

Afterword: The Twighlight of the Vanguard and the Rise of Criticism (1994-1995) 503

Biographical Note 517

Index 519
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

Rights and licensing
Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-2248-1 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-2231-3
Publicity material