Under President Porfirio Diaz (1876-1911) Mexico was quickly transformed by new-found social stability, ongoing political liberalization, and significant economic expansion. And yet, intellectuals in Diaz's Mexico were deeply disquieted by the fact that Mexico seemed to consistently lack one of the other cornerstone features of the modern nation-state: namely, what Jürgen Habermas first conceptualized as a 'public sphere'—an enlightened, objective, and necessarily extra governmental space where participants could bracket their particular socio-economic status in order to actively participate in rational debate.
Curiously enough, Porfirian intellectuals turned to literature in order to shape a concept of the 'public', establish the social position of particular citizens, and meditate upon the character of Mexico's civil institutions. Most specifically, in this presentation, I analyze the role and representation of journalism in literary texts from Porfirian Mexico. By exploring works by Porfirian writers and with a special consideration for the social and historical milieu in which their works were produced, I demonstrate that a primary goal of the lettered class was to define the character of public life.
All are welcome and encouraged to attend the final Faculty Lunch Talk of the fall semester, given by Visiting Assistant Instructor Kevin Anzzolin.
Thursday, December 4, 2014
President's Dining Room