“Altamente teatral” : subject, nation, and media in the works of Virgilio Piñera


“Altamente teatral” : subject, nation, and media in the works of Virgilio Piñera

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Title: “Altamente teatral” : subject, nation, and media in the works of Virgilio Piñera
Author: Cabrera Fonte, Pilar
Abstract: This study analyzes Virgilio Piñera’s concept of performance in relation to his representation of mass media products and technologies. The central argument is that Piñera’s notion of theatrical representation connects fiction with politics in subversive ways, challenging assumptions of naturalness at different levels, from that of the gendered self, to the family and the nation. To support this argument, the study focuses on Piñera’s representation of a variety of mass media genres as these inspire everyday life performances, mainly in Cuba but also in Argentina. While fictional models and sentimental narratives from the mass media most often convey oppressive conceptions of gender, family, and nation, the author’s representation of the media’s pervasive influence questions and denaturalizes those conceptions. Piñera stresses the disruptive potential of individual performance against the repetitive character of both the mass media industry and the social reenactments of its sentimental myths. His references to mass culture thus destabilize structures of power, including stereotypes of both sexuality and gender. The analysis shows that Piñera’s fictions exhibit important characteristics of queer aesthetics. The study comprises a time span of almost three decades, from the early 1940s to the late 1960s, and focuses on a selection of Piñera’s criticism, drama, poetry, and narrative. Within those texts, special attention is given to references to photography, radio programs, romance novels, movies, and popular music. The organization of Piñera’s texts in this study answers to both thematic and chronological considerations. Chapter 1 outlines the study’s objectives and methodology, also providing a background on critical studies about Piñera. Chapters 2 and 3 deal with plays and short-stories written before the 1959 Cuban Revolution. Chapter 2 examines texts that represent both family and nation in relation to a variety of mass media genres, from Cuban “radionovelas” to Hollywood gangster films. Chapter 3 focuses on two narratives, written in Buenos Aires, that address posing and self-representation in relation to issues of sexuality, masculinity, and power. Chapter 4 deals with a selection of poems written, for the most part, after 1959. In these poems, the literary use of photography stresses theatrical self-representation, often in direct resistance to revolutionary reformulations of masculinity in the figure of the “New Man.”
Subject: Virgilio Piñera Cuban literature Mass media Latin American media Latin American literature Queer studies Masculinity
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2152/ETD-UT-2010-05-804
Date: 2010-05

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