Documents in Crisis

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Examines the theory and practice of nonfiction narrative literature in twentieth-century Mexico.

In the turbulent twentieth century, large numbers of Mexicans of all social classes faced crisis and catastrophe on a seemingly continuous basis. Revolution, earthquakes, industrial disasters, political and labor unrest, as well as indigenous insurgency placed extraordinary pressures on collective and individual identity. In contemporary literary studies, nonfiction literatures have received scant attention compared to the more supposedly “creative” practices of fictional narrative, poetry, and drama. In Documents in Crisis, Beth E. Jörgensen examines a selection of both canonical and lesser-known examples of narrative nonfiction that were written in response to these crises, including the autobiography, memoir, historical essay, testimony, chronicle, and ethnographic life narrative. She addresses the relative neglect of Mexican nonfiction in criticism and theory and demonstrates its continuing relevance for writers and readers who, in spite of the contemporary blurring of boundaries between fiction and nonfiction, remain fascinated by literatures of fact.

Beth E. Jörgensen is Professor of Spanish at the University of Rochester. Her books include (with coeditor Ignacio Corona) The Contemporary Mexican Chronicle: Theoretical Perspectives on the Liminal Genre, also published by SUNY Press; The Writing of Elena Poniatowska: Engaging Dialogues; and a new rendition, with notes, of Mariano Azuela’s The Underdogs: A Novel of the Mexican Revolution.

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