Reconstructing Childhood:

Julia A. Kushigian

Strategies of Reading for Culture and Gender in the Spanish American Bildungsroman

2003
267 pages
ISBN 0-8387-5522-4
LC 2001014969
Bucknell Studies in Latin American Literature and Theory

Reconstructing Childhood challenges the notion of a unilateral analysis of the Bildungsroman from a paradigm that engages four strategies of reading. This interdisciplinary multicultural revision of the Bildungsroman frees it from the constraints of the European, white, middle-class, patriarchal tradition, taking into account significant cultural, gender, socioeconomic, ethnic, racial, and generational aspects that the traditional model excludes. As such, it is a critique of the grand narrative of coming of age.

While arguing the philosophic potentiality of the genre to reconfigure normative human models of development, Julia Kushigian advances readings of selected canonical fiction and testimonial narratives, in addition to understudied and experimental texts cutting across numerous Spanish-American countries. She debates issues of self-development and interpersonal relationships, typical of the Bildungsroman, but also questions identity, a major Latin American theme, through an exploration of communal self-reflection, hybrid cultural norms, nation-building development, cultural maturity, and postmodern pastiche.

Beginning in the nineteenth century and ending with the postmodern close of the twentieth, Reconstructing Childhood explores issues of race, class, sexuality, social justice, truth, poverty and aging. It probes the role of the Bildungsroman for the future, serving as a bridge from Romanticism to modernism and postmodernism.

About the author:

Julia A. Kushigian is Professor of Hispanic Studies at Connecticut College. Her previous books include Orientalism in the Hispanic Literary Tradition: In Dialogue with Borges, Paz, and Sarduy (1991), and an edited collection of essays, International Studies in the Next Millennium: Meeting the Challenge of Globalization (1998).

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