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ARTELETRA: The Sixties in Latin America and the Politics of Going Unnoticed

Jason A. Bartles

ArteletrA analyzes the Sixties in Latin America in order to revisit the core claim of literary and cultural studies to political relevancy in the contemporary world: the task of making visible the invisible. Though visibility can secure rights for the disenfranchised, it also risks subjecting them to the biopolitical and capitalist arrangements of space. What is at stake in this book is a series of aesthetic and ethical tools for engaging in politics—defined here as the potential to disagree—without first passing through visibility. These tools cohere around a practice Bartles calls “the politics of going unnoticed,” which he derives from an archive of three noteworthy, though under-appreciated, authors who wrote during the Sixties: Calvert Casey (1924–69), Juan Filloy (1894–2000), and Armonía Somers (1914–94). For the first time ever, Casey, Filloy, and Somers are put in dialogue with one another to further demonstrate the unique contributions of Latin American writers to contemporary debates about the crossroads of literatures and politics. What unites them is their shared investment in stories about those who go unnoticed. As a practice, going unnoticed creates space and opportunities for queer, rural, and female subjects, among others, to step back from unjust institutions. As a political discourse, going unnoticed deactivates the binary structures of biopolitics (e.g., visible/invisible, pure/filthy, friend/enemy) that divide humans from one another in the service of power and economic inequality. Though the politics of going unnoticed was ignored during the Sixties for its apparent individualism, these three writers work through alternatives to the politics of visibility that has animated political discourse on the left for the last half-century. More than a self-interested critique, going unnoticed opens new possibilities for engaging in the messy business of politics while imagining and creating better communities.



“Jason Bartles’s ArteletrA offers a unique, innovative framework for reading an era in Latin American cultural history that seemed foreclosed to further literary or political readings. By providing a heuristic for reading against the currents of the cultural maps of the 1960s, Bartles not only helps us revisit this decade by attending to works and writers other than the ones we commonly associate with the period, but he also opens up a much-needed space today for alternative forms of utopian thinking. Creating a dialogue between works by Calvert Casey (Cuba, 1924–69), Juan Filloy (Argentina, 1894–2000), and Armonía Somers (Uruguay, 1914–94) proves the value of comparative analysis when examining a time in the production of Latin American literatures and politics that makes sense only transnationally. The politics of going unnoticed enacted by the various characters analyzed by Bartles compels us to see this crucial period in Latin American politics outside the logic of success and failure. Instead, ArteletrA unsettles and interrogates this binary, as it does those between visibility and invisibility, transparency and opacity, that structure the political up until today.”

 —Mariela Méndez, University of Richmond



Jason A. Bartles is an associate professor at West Chester University. He received his BA from Gettysburg College and his MA and PhD in Latin American Literatures and Cultures from the University of Maryland, College Park. His research explores the political, aesthetic, and ethical discourses that restore the possibilities for utopian thinking in the fiction and essays of twentieth and twenty-first century Latin American and Latinx writers. He has published articles in Aztlán, Revista Iberoamericana,Variaciones Borges, Revista Hispánica Moderna, and Revista de Estudios Hispánicos. His fiction has appeared in Punchnel’s, Here Comes Everyone, Boned, The Metaworker, and in the collection, My Utopia, at Cambridge Scholars Publishing.



PSRL 81. Paper. $45.00. e-Book available. 


Page last updated on 26 June 2021.

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