The Art of Transition

Latin American Culture and Neoliberal Crisis

The Art of Transition

Latin America Otherwise

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Book Pages: 352 Illustrations: 10 b&w photos Published: September 2001

Gender and Sexuality > Feminism and Women’s Studies, Latin American Studies, Literature and Literary Studies > Literary Theory

The Art of Transition addresses the problems defined by writers and artists during the postdictatorship years in Argentina and Chile, years in which both countries aggressively adopted neoliberal market-driven economies. Delving into the conflicting efforts of intellectuals to name and speak to what is real, Francine Masiello interprets the culture of this period as an art of transition, referring to both the political transition to democracy and the formal strategies of wrestling with this change that are found in the aesthetic realm.
Masiello views representation as both a political and artistic device, concerned with the tensions between truth and lies, experience and language, and intellectuals and the marginal subjects they study and claim to defend. These often contentious negotiations, she argues, are most provocatively displayed through the spectacle of difference, which constantly crosses the literary stage, the market, and the North/South divide. While forcefully defending the ability of literature and art to advance ethical positions and to foster a critical view of neoliberalism, Masiello especially shows how issues of gender and sexuality function as integrating threads throughout this cultural project. Through discussions of visual art as well as literary work by prominent novelists and poets, Masiello sketches a broad landscape of vivid intellectual debate in the Southern Cone of Latin America.
The Art of Transition will interest Latin Americanists,literary and political theorists, art critics and historians, and those involved with the study of postmodernism and globalization.


“[Masiello] defends the ability of literature and art to advance ethical positions and foster a critical view of neoliberalism and shows how issues of gender and sexuality function as integrating threads throughout this period.” — , Michigan Alumnus

“During the postdictatorship years in Argentina and Chile, both countries aggressively adopted Neoliberal market-driven economies. Francine Masiello interprets the culture of this period as an art of transition (both politically and aesthetically) and through discussions of art and literature sketches a broad landscape of vivid intellectual debate in the Southern cone of Latin America.” — , Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education

“Excellent material here for serious students of Southern Cone culture, women’s studies, and contemporary literature.” — K. M. Sibbald, Choice

"The Art of Transition offers a wide and complete panorama, as well as a deep analysis of the cultural production of our times. . . . [T]his book is, without a doubt, a timely and ambitious project, and as challenging and complex as its object of study." — María Cristina Pons , symploke

"[A] pathbreaking book that consolidates her as one of the most creative academics working in the area of Latin American literature in the U.S. . . . The Art of Transition is already indispensable for scholars working in contemporary art, literature, and cultural studies in Latin America." — Fabricio Forastelli , Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

"Francine Masiello’s The Art of Transition offers a broad reflection on contemporary cultural production in Argentina and Chile. . . ." — Patrick Dove , Nepantla

"Only by situating ourselves at this crossroads, only by adopting this reading en route proposed by Masiello in The Art of Transition, can we truly comprehend the political and aesthetic subversion implied in the painting selected for the cover and give full meaning to Davila's cross-dressed Bolivar. This reading en route initiated by Masiello constitutes, in my view, a daring challenge to all the scholars who intend to read against the grain the intellectual debates not only of the Southern Cone, but also of contemporary Latin America." — Laura Demaria , Latin American Literary Review

"With a clear and enticing writing style, Masiello gathers, analyses and exemplifies the theories that have shaped postmodern literary and cultural production in Chile and Argentina over the past decade. . . . The pointed questions that she evokes-from the intellectual's subject position vis-à-vis feminist cultural production to the role of foreign words in poetry that insists on the disruption of language in this era of constant change-challenge the reader to reassess identity in this contemporary age." — Amanda Holmes , Revista Canadiense de Estudios Hispánícos

The Art of Transition will be indispensable reading for literary critics working on contemporary Latin America. Though it focuses on Argentina and Chile, the questions it poses are of concern to anyone who cares about literature and art in the neoliberal era. Masiello tacks smoothly among a diverse gallery of figures, lining them up around a rich and often brilliant array of insights.” — Mary Louise Pratt, Stanford University

“Two centuries ago, Villemain described literature as an expression of society; one century later Benedetto Croce replied that what really counts is that literature is always expression. Proving both right, Francine Masiello has written a much-needed book that brings back the aesthetic dimension to a study of current Spanish American literary production grounded on her exceptionally insightful understanding of the current turn in the history of the region.” — Tulio Halperín-Donghi, author of The Contemporary History of Latin America


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Francine Masiello is Professor of Spanish and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley. She is the author of several books, including Between Civilization and Barbarism: Women, Nation, and Literary Culture in Modern Argentina.

Table of Contents Back to Top
List of Illustrations



Part I. Masks

1. In Search of a Subject: Latin American Intellectuals at Century’s End

2. The Spectacle of “Difference”

Part II. Maps

3. Gender Traffic on the North/South Horizon

4. Bodies in Transit: Travel, Translation, and Sexuality

Part III. Markets

5. The Politics of the Test: Experience, Representation, and the Return of lo popular

6. From Museum to Street: Poetry for the New Millennium


Works Cited


Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Co-winner, MLA Katherine Singer Kovacs Award

Honorable Mention, 2003 Bryce Wood Book Award, Latin American Studies Association

Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-2818-6 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-2806-3
Publicity material