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The Vanishing Frame

The Vanishing Frame
Latin American Culture and Theory in the Postdictatorial Era

Examining the works of writers and artists such as Roberto Bolaño, Fernando Botero, Pablo Larraín, and Alejandro Zambra, this pathfinding book challenges postdictatorial aesthetics by focusing on the concept of aesthetic autonomy as a critique of economic inequality.

Series: Border Hispanisms

August 2018
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200 pages | 6 x 9 |

In the postdictatorial era, Latin American cultural production and criticism have been defined by a series of assumptions about politics and art—expecially the claim that political freedom can be achieved by promoting a more direct experience between the textual subject (often a victim) and the reader by eliminating the division between art and life. The Vanishing Frame argues against this conception of freedom, demonstrating how it is based on a politics of human rights complicit with economic injustices. Presenting a provocative counternarrative, Eugenio Claudio Di Stefano examines literary, visual, and interdisciplinary artists who insist on the autonomy of the work of art in order to think beyond the politics of human rights and neoliberalism in Latin American theory and culture.

Di Stefano demonstrates that while artists such as Diamela Eltit, Ariel Dorfman, and Albertina Carri develop a concept of justice premised on recognizing victims’ experiences of torture or disappearance, they also ignore the injustice of economic inequality and exploitation. By examining how artists such as Roberto Bolaño, Alejandro Zambra, and Fernando Botero not only reject an aesthetics of experience (and the politics it entails) but also insist on the work of art as a point of departure for an anticapitalist politics, this new reading of Latin American cultural production offers an alternative understanding of recent developments in Latin American aesthetics and politics that puts art at its center and the postdictatorship at its end.

  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction: Freedom at the End of the Postdictatorial Era
  • Part 1. Postdictatorial Aesthetics
    • Chapter 1. From Revolution to Human Rights
    • Chapter 2. Disability and Redemocratization
    • Chapter 3. Making Neoliberal History
  • Part 2. Toward a Politics of the Frame
    • Chapter 4. The Reappearance of the Frame
    • Chapter 5. Anti-intentionalism and the Neoliberal Left
    • Chapter 6. Literary Form Now
    • Coda: The Victim, the Frame
  • Notes
  • Works Cited
  • Index

Omaha, Nebraska

Di Stefano is an associate professor of Spanish at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.


“[The Vanishing Frame's] main novelty lies in the fact that the theoretical argumentation is founded on an anticapitalistic perspective in contradiction with what the author labels as the human rights Left…I recommend in the strongest possible terms that this essay be included as required reading for any graduate course on Latin American History or Literature dealing with the topics of human rights, dictatorships, and artistic/literary representations.”

“One of the most important merits of...The Vanishing Frame [is] its force to make visible an old discussion between ethics and aesthetics, between representation of catastrophe and horizons of justice.”
Revista de Esudios Hispánicos

“ An ambitious work that weaves together a wide array of disciplinary discourses and approaches...valuable for its ambition to perform interdisciplinary criticism in literary studies, art history, political theory, and cultural criticism...I would suggest this book to scholars who are interested in the interaction of affect, aesthetics, and politics in Latin American dictatorial and postdictatorial literature and visual art since the late 1970s. On the other hand, the book speaks not only to scholars of Latin American culture and literature but also to students and scholars interested in the relationship between aesthetics, politics, and theory more broadly.”
Aztlán: A Journal of Chicano Studies

“There is no doubt in my mind that The Vanishing Frame is one of the most important theoretical works of criticism to be published in the field of Latin American literature in the last few years. Not only because it is successful in its critique of the connection between human rights politics and the emergence of a neoliberal period in South America, but also because, in the process, it gives us a reading of the evolution of Latin Americanism since the end of the last century.”

“Essential reading not only for anyone studying Latin American culture, literature, and visual art of the past forty years but also for students, scholars, and theorists in any field studying the relationship between aesthetics, politics, and theory under neoliberalism. Lucidly written, brilliantly argued, and relentlessly polemical, Di Stefano’s book forces us to rethink our most cherished beliefs about the political work of representations and about politics itself.”
Charles Hatfield, University of Texas at Dallas, author of The Limits of Identity: Politics and Poetics in Latin America

“This is a wonderful book, one of the most refreshing and engaging readings of Latin American culture and literature to emerge in recent years. It successfully maps and intervenes in debates surrounding the status of culture in the wake of dictatorships and neoliberal transitions in Latin America, particularly in the Southern Cone. The book challenges both identity-based and deconstructive approaches to contemporary culture by insisting upon their limits in diagnosing economic inequality and exploitation.”
Ericka Beckman, University of Pennsylvania, author of Capital Fictions: The Literature of Latin America’s Export Age


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3M Cloud Library/bibliotheca