Epistemología de lo cursi: Género, sexualidad, identidad y nación en el mundo hispano, XIX-XXI
Chadez, Rusquin Roberto
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This dissertation deals with lo cursi, a concept that has manifested itself in the Hispanic world (XIX-XXI). Through this lens, I explore the interceptions of lo cursi with gender, sexuality, race, social class, identity, and literary styles that are to be found between the tradition/avant-garde and the canonical/popular dis(cursi)vities. I accomplish this by tracing an interdisciplinary, transnational, and a transatlantic circuit between Mexico, Cuba, Spain, and the Hispanic world within the United States. I argue that lo cursi phenomenon is a fluid, permeable, and polyhedral space, which involves contingency and is linked to the subjects and nations’ needs while oppressing/subverting/reconciling the (non)hegemonic codes and hierarchies of the supposed only binary opposites. The opposites and dynamics always had been and will be dynamic, multi-faceted, and at least tripartite. This analysis challenges the most widespread concept of lo cursi that pejoratively defines it as a sentimental, domestic, effeminate, traditional, démodé, low quality esthetic phenomenon. Lo cursi is associated with the domestic and the sentimental style adopted by some female writers/journalists basically since the nineteenth century in the Spanish-speaking world. The authors used to publish primarily in the society columns of Hispanic periodicals, in Latin America, Spain, and the United States. Therefore, this dissertation aims to configure a theoretical model with the intention of proposing lo cursi as a (self)defensive agglutinating space (always open to new reconfigurations) and as an aesthetic category (revisionist instrument). Lo cursi is an effective subversive/oppressive/conciliatory political tool for individual and national representations of subaltern and/or em(power)ed subjects. These subjects are aware of the long-range destabilizing power of lo cursi and intentionally adopt this repetitive and linguistic violent offense as an individual/collective defensive mechanism within their different dis(cursi)vities. Hence, it is adopted to oppress and/or subvert and/or conciliate the (un)official and/or (non)hegemonic discourses, which gives them protagonist existence, power, and legitimation that arise from the margins and/or the centers. The above-mentioned dynamics occur in both the symbolic (oral/written) and the performative sociocultural arenas. Lo cursi, as an aesthetic category, plays a relevant role to inquisitively analyze and necessarily highlight the importance of some marginalized and/or canonical cultural productions, explaining how to approach and legitimate them and why some individuals and nations strategically have (re)appropriated this aesthetic. Thus, lo cursi as a revisionist aesthetic instrument plays a significant role in the recovery of forgotten voices by hegemonic discourses such as official cultural historiographies and national identity projects. These forgotten authors are often victims of marginalization because their cursi style is not understood, which causes their works to be perceived as a product of “low-quality” artistic value. This dissertation recovers the literary work of the Mexican poet and journalist Rosario Sansores (1889-1972) through the revisionist theoretical lens of lo cursi and feminist theories, with the intention of highlighting her figure and cultural productions as another significant feminist voice that challenges patriarchy while enriching and problematizing the scope and boundaries of Mexican feminism and feminism in broader terms. Rosario Sansores lived for twenty-three years in Cuba (1909-1932) and published her works in Havana, Mexico City, Spain, and the United States. Sansores’ cultural productions trace an interdisciplinary, transnational, and transatlantic cultural circuit in the Hispanic world. This action exemplifies the operation of lo cursi as a (self)defensive agglutinating space and as an aesthetic category. Sansores strategically adopted lo cursi in her life and works to achieve agency and subvert patriarchy and Mexican avant-garde literary and cultural movements during the first-half of the twentieth century. The author and her works remain forgotten and are labeled as cursi (using the word as a pejorative category) by some Mexican intellectual elites and some Mexican academic feminists. This dissertation analyzes other authors’ similar works such as María Luisa Garza (Loreley), Elena Arizmendi, and Blanca de Moncaleano. Within this Hispanic revisionist feminist theory stands out Spanish author Carmen Martín Gaite, mainly through her texts Usos amorosos de la postguerra española (1987) and El cuarto de atrás (1978) as another feminist voice who challenges patriarchy while enriching and problematizing the scope and boundaries of Hispanic feminisms, and feminism movement in broader terms. I also intersect and analyze the Hispanic male queer/cursi (queersi) cinematic productions with an emphasis on Greater Mexico and particularly on Jaime Humberto Hermosillo’s cinematic dis(queersi)vities. In this regard, this dissertation proposes and analyzes a concept that I have called queersi, which combines the concepts and the scopes of the queer and lo cursi to understand, analyze, legitimize, and recover literary and sociocultural dis(queersi)vities, mainly queer, feminist, and cursis, but not limited to them. The above mentioned is relevant for studies of gender and sexuality, among other ambits and interceptions. The dissertation also tentatively proposes four positions or postures that stand out in the previous spaces: the traditional subversive, the radical oppressive, the radical subversive, and the subversive conciliatory. In general terms, the postures contribute to analyze, understand, and warn about the oppressive and/or subversive and/or conciliatory processes in the face of dissimilar conflict situations that arise from sociocultural relations, beyond the traditional binary dynamics, around power and within the ambit of lo cursi and the other mentioned spaces. In this regard, the dissertation points out that the positions are in constant dialogue with other interceptions: gender, sexuality, race, social class, language and others.