Anti-Literature (Paperback)

The Politics and Limits of Representation in Modern Brazil and Argentina (Pitt Illuminations)

By Adam Joseph Shellhorse

University of Pittsburgh Press, 9780822964476, 264pp.

Publication Date: May 19, 2017

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Anti-Literature articulates a rethinking of what is meant today by “literature.” Examining key Latin American forms of experimental writing from the 1920s to the present, Adam Joseph Shellhorse reveals literature’s power as a site for radical reflection and reaction to contemporary political and cultural conditions. His analysis engages the work of writers such as Clarice Lispector, Oswald de Andrade, the Brazilian concrete poets, Osman Lins, and David Viñas, to develop a theory of anti-literature that posits the feminine, multimedial, and subaltern as central to the undoing of what is meant by “literature.”

By placing Brazilian and Argentine anti-literature at the crux of a new way of thinking about the field, Shellhorse challenges prevailing discussions about the historical projection and critical force of Latin American literature. Examining a diverse array of texts and media that include the visual arts, concrete poetry, film scripts, pop culture, neo-baroque narrative, and others that defy genre, Shellhorse delineates the subversive potential of anti-literary modes of writing while also engaging current debates in Latin American studies on subalternity, feminine writing, posthegemony, concretism, affect, marranismo, and the politics of aesthetics.

About the Author

Adam Joseph Shellhorse is assistant professor of Spanish and Portuguese at Temple University.

Praise For Anti-Literature: The Politics and Limits of Representation in Modern Brazil and Argentina (Pitt Illuminations)

"A seminal study poised to spur ongoing conversation and debate. . . Shellhorse's model has implications far beyond the specific case studies offered . . . it is indispensable reading for anyone interested in the politics of avant-garde form in Latin American literature." 
—Ashley Brock, University of Pennsylvania

“Suggesting a theoretical revision of the term "literature" within Latin American studies, Shellhorse maintains that experimental writers seek to push the limits of writing and representation toward an anti-literary aesthetic of the sensible.”

“Shellhorse proposes a new reading method that attends to the marginal, subaltern qualities of the literary text, qualities that exceed our attempts to name or fix them. De-emphasizing identity without sacrificing the political potency of literature and literary criticism, Shellhorse addresses literary as well as filmic production, placing them in urgent conversation with the most cutting-edge concepts coming out of critical theory and philosophy today. Anti-Literature is surely among the most original, theoretically sophisticated, yet accessible books published in a very long time. It promises to be one of the most important and widely-read new books in Latin American literary studies.”
—Erin Graff Zivin, University of Southern California

“This study is absolutely needed. It adds a lot to the important discussion on the nature of Latin American literature. Shellhorse’s argument is exceedingly well-supported and expands the standard frontiers of this subject. A major contribution.”
—Earl E. Fitz, Vanderbilt University

"Anti-literature is a bold and timely intervention in a dire moment for "literary studies in the field of Latin American Studies. What is the epistemological status of the 'literary' today, if not an ambiguous force driven by machinistic inertia? . . . Ambitious in scope, theoretically sophisticated, and generous in its readings of a heterogeneous corpus, Shellhorse attempts to understand what is meant by "literature in contemporary posthegemonic times" Whether such interrogation opens up a desirable future, is the very heart of this important book."
Infrapolitical Deconstruction 

"Anti-Literature offers highly productive, provocative readings of major works of twentieth-century Brazilian and Argentine production, besides developing a welcome reassessment of current and recent debates on the literary—and the anti-literary—in Latin American studies."
Hispanic Review 

"Anti-Literature is about a new way of understanding the subversive potential of literary and cultural production, and of reading it. . . . this is a book that challenges us to read in different ways." 
Luso-Brazilian Review