The history of theory and its Hispanic uses

 "Se puede salvar la teoría, pero es necesario decir en qué estricto sentido hablamos de la teoría a punto de perderse. Esta pérdida no es la que sólo los teoricistas podrían sufrir o añorar, sino la que está a punto de acometerse contra el corazón mismo de lo que significa pensar (y por lo tanto, investigar, y por lo tanto, escribir)."
Espacio 310, "¿Se puede salvar la teoría?", El ojo mocho,
Buenos Aires, num. 4-5, Fall 1994

The publication of Roland Barthes' first book, Le degré zéro de l’écriture, reached its sixtieth anniversary in 2013; in 2014, it will be thirty years from Michel Foucault's passing. As arbitrary as they are resounding, these two dates, 1953 and 1984, can frame the beginning and the end of a period of crisis in French intellectual history in which thought, politics, and literature unsettled each other, a period that we may term, in retrospect, 'the age of theory'. By now, thirty years after the closing of that period of effervescence, it stands as a living root of our present understanding of literature. This monograph aims at inquiring how that thinking has been passed on to us, and accordingly, what connects us to it, and what separates us from it.

It is precisely this distance from an already historical period what affords an analytical and reflexive scrutiny of our readings of that tradition, in order to better grasp the contemporaneity of our critical discourses. What do we share with it, and where do we diverge?  What are the implications of the institutionalization and normalization of theory in the universities? And, in a more polemical vein, as the Argentinian journal, El ojo mocho, asked twenty years ago, "can theory be saved?'".

The uses of theory in the diverse Hispanic contexts demand that we bring together particular cases in order to reveal the specificity of different strategies of appropriation and discursive transformation. Therefore, this monograph cannot limit its scope to a single nation, as the reception and uses of theory tradition are diverse, and often shaped by political history and exile.

This call for papers stems from the conviction that historicizing literary theory―both in its institutional and discursive aspects―might be a way to make use of and rekindle literary theory. By pointing at the mediations that unite and separate us from other periods and spaces, we can contribute to make visible the current uses of theory, and ultimately, to problematize our own critical present.

This twelfth issue of 452ºF wants to gather a body of texts dealing with the subject of "The history of theory and its Hispanic uses". A tentative list of fields of enquiry might include:
a)    Past and present of theory: discursive and institutional study of literary theory, in its original context and at present
b)    History, uses and conceptual transformations
c)    Literary theory at the crossroads: between knowledge, politics and literature
d)    Literary theory and intellectual history
e)   Means of production, conceptual circulation, and transformation of the intellectual field: universities, journals, new magazines, television, the Internet
f)    Translations, re-readings, and theoretical borrowings
g)    Theory in the Hispanic context: comparative studies
h)    Historical transformations of theory
i)     Critical uses of literary theory

Max Hidalgo Nácher

FaLang translation system by Faboba


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