Alexandria Digital Research Library

The cronista (re)writes the nation: Memory and "alternative histories" in cronicas of Mexican centennial and bicentennial commemorations of independence

Workman, Amber Leah
Degree Grantor:
University of California, Santa Barbara. Spanish and Portuguese
Degree Supervisor:
Sara Poot Herrera
Place of Publication:
[Santa Barbara, Calif.]
University of California, Santa Barbara
Creation Date:
Issued Date:
Literature, Latin American, Literature, Modern, History, Latin American, and Literature, American
Mexican literature
Chronicle writing
Mexican commemorations of independence
Dissertations, Academic and Online resources
Ph.D.--University of California, Santa Barbara, 2012

This study examines the relationship between the Latin American journalistic cronica ("chronicle") and memory, specifically the way writers used highly imaginative cronicas as a means to uphold or challenge official memory and history and to propose "alternative" readings of the nation during Mexico's centenary and bicentenary commemorations of Independence of 1910, 1921, and 2010. The centenarios were times when historical memory was of paramount importance and that foregrounded two long-standing obsessions of the cronica: the topic of national identity and an interest in great historical events. Positing the cronica as a sort of literary lieu de memoire ("site of memory"), the study analyzes works from Mexican and Mexican American cronistas ("chroniclers") drawn from current and turn-of-the-century periodical sources including writings by Juan B. Urrutia, "Cagliostro," Rafael Lopez, Jose D. Frias, Jose de Jesus Nunez y Dominguez, Jorge Ulica (Julio G.

Arce), Carlos Monsivais, Rafael Perez Gay, and Hermann Bellinghausen. The study contends that the modern cronica (1910, 1921) and the postmodern cronica (2010) as works of memory differ in their literary treatment of events, partly due to the changing role of the cronista as well as changes in the form/content, functions, and reception of the literary chronicle from one century to the next. In the case of the Mexican independence celebrations examined here, "alternative histories" or narratives of the nation's past also responded to changes associated with the paradigmatic shift from modernity to postmodernity.

While for turn-of-the-century modernista writers, for instance, the cronica itself was an experiment in creative journalism, cronicas today, often published in blogs, or online journals or newspapers, involve new forms of experimentation, are not necessarily published by professional writers or intellectuals, and may involve reader participation (or "modification" of official memory through online commentary and social networking tools). Furthermore, while nineteenth-century cronicas sought to express a singular, monolithic version of national identity, now postmodern or late twentieth and early twenty-first century cronistas tend to question such metanarratives or "all-encompassing" explanations of knowledge or "absolute truths".

Today´s cronistas also seem less likely to function as an authoritative source of knowledge (or "memory"), as readers now have the ability to quickly and easily verify information on their own (via the internet) and to interact with electronically published texts to question them or to provide their own versions of "what happened"; that is, to provide countermemories. Critical studies to date have been unable to provide a definition of the literary cronica that accounts for diachronic changes as well as issues relating to the genre's formal hybridity (between literature and journalism) or its official or unofficial stance toward state-backed concerns. I argue, however, that reading the cronica as memory transcends these questions and provides an important bridge to a more all-inclusive definition of the genre, thus establishing its significance in the literary canon and offering an additional approach to its critical study.

Physical Description:
1 online resource (240 pages)
UCSB electronic theses and dissertations
Catalog System Number:
Inc.icon only.dark In Copyright
Copyright Holder:
Amber Workman
Access: This item is restricted to on-campus access only. Please check our FAQs or contact UCSB Library staff if you need additional assistance.