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The Politics of Poetics: The Testimonial Genre and the Literary Prize of Casa de las Américas (1970-2011)

The research project is funded by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, 2016-2018

Researcher: Anna Forné

In this project I examine how Casa de las Américas’ annual literary prize has influenced the formation and conceptualisation of the Latin American testimonial genre. Casa de las Américas was formed in connection with the Cuban Revolution in 1959 and simultaneously its prestigious annual literary prize was established. Since 1970 the genre of testimony is a prize category.

The purpose is to examine how Casa de las Américas’ aesthetic and political genre criteria are reflected in the award-winning texts and their significance in the development of the genre. The testimonies will be compared with the awarded texts in the category ‘novel’ in order to analyse the presupposed differences between the genres. Prize criteria and juries’ reports will be taken into consideration, as well as contemporary debates on aesthetics and politics.

Despite Casa de las Américas’ influence on cultural politics in Latin America after 1960, the importance of its literary prize has not previously been examined in a systematic way. Likewise, the project s significant materials have not been taken into consideration in key theories of the testimonial genre.

Initially, I will map the development of the genre in relation to the novel by means of a contextualising close reading of the winning texts, in relation to a discussion of the politics of aesthetics. Secondly I will carry out a critical revision of present theories of the testimonial genre, based on the results of the project’s first phase.

Contact Information

Anna Forné

Box 200, 405 30 Göteborg

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