Imagining modernity in António de Alcântara Machado's Journalistic Chronicles
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This dissertation, titled “Imagining Modernity in António de Alcântara Machado’s Journalistic Chronicles”, demonstrates the historical relevance of the journalistic chronicle in Brazilian intellectual and cultural life and its novel diachronic and aesthetical relationship to Latin American modernization. Focusing primarily on unpublished and original journalistic chronicles (crônica) by avant-garde writer Alcântara Machado, the genre of the crônica, a brief narrative piece that first debuted in Brazil’s mid-19th century newspapers, is analyzed as both a key cultural mediation and valuable archive of the early intellectual constructions of Brazil’s entrance into modernity. Thanks to its uniquely hybrid quality, the crônica crossed multiple discursive boundaries, including literature, journalism, history, caricature, photography, painting, drama and cinema, and dealt with a wide variety of objects and subjects in narrating the current events of 19th century Rio de Janeiro and early 20th century São Paulo. To examine this topic, this dissertation focuses on the crônicas by Brazilian writers such as José de Alencar, Machado de Assis, Olavo Bilac, João do Rio, and Lima Barreto. The crônica, according to this study, conceived of the city as an entity in flux, revealing the chance encounters and tensions between isolated subjects and the crowd, thus shedding light on the paradoxical interplay between the public and private spheres. All these complex themes are discussed under the lights of a comprehensive bibliography on modernity, literature, and journalism, in order to examine the crônica's extensive engagement with urbanization, race and gender issues, the education of the lower classes, and the growth of the literature and journalism in the region. Specifically, it is discussed how the crônica became a powerful ideological force in the construction of national and cultural identities, contributing to Brazil’s and Latin America’s place in the liberal economic order. Concomitantly, it is shown how such journalistic writing decisively impacted literary production Brazil and Latin America.