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Striking Poses: Locas, Locos, and Photography in Latin American Literature


I examine texts from Argentina and Chile spanning from 1966 to 2014, asking how the pose as gesture and device enables me to conceptualize the movement between subject positions in a photographic encounter, finding that theorizing the pose permits me to establish a relationship of dependence between the registers of image and text in the mixed medium works. I understand the pose broadly as not only gesture, but also author’s intention and reader’s approach to a text.

Read together through the lens of the pose, these mixed texts require the reader to move back and forth conceptually between registers, echoing the movement between subject positions in a photographic encounter. In each of the four chapters I discuss different iterations of the relationship between photographer, subject-model, and spectator, parallel to author, subject, and reader, focusing on the movement between positions.

In Part I on the female expressing transvestite subject I read José Donoso’s El lugar sin límites as precursor to representations to follow in Manuel Puig’s El beso de la mujer araña, La Manzana de Adán with photographs by Paz Errázuriz and text by Claudia Donoso, and Tengo miedo torero by Pedro Lemebel. In part II on the subject of madness I analyze photo-textual works Humanario with photographs by Sara Facio and Alicia d’Amico and texts by Fernando Pagés-Larraya and Julio Cortázar, as well as El infarto del alma with photographs by Paz Errázuriz and text by Diamela Eltit, followed by a reading of historical novel Augustine. La loca de Charcot by Lydia Tolchinsky-Pinkus.

In these works we witness the subject take authorship over her pose, while photographer inserts herself into a photo-narrative as subject, and the reader’s reading transforms through space and time, based on the cultural and political climate of her moment. In order to read between media in the way I have done it is necessary to decenter hegemonic narratives. This decentering is echoed in the way the marginal subjects of these works remain in their positions of marginality, while moving between positions of the photographic encounter, and finding forms of resistance to hegemony through creativity.

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