On Aesthetic Experience And Trauma In Postwar Central America: The Case Of Horacio Castellanos Moya's "El Asco" And Claudia Hernández's "De Fronteras"

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This article examines what it means to write literature in postwar Central America, where conditions for its production and reception have been anything but favorable. Of particular interest is the problem of the collective trauma brought on by the region's long history of war, violence, and economic precarity. The article argues that the literary works that have most resonated in the postwar context are those which not only accord with the psychically numbing experience of trauma, but also enable the reader to gain conscious, critical awareness of that experience. To illustrate this claim, the article studies Horacio Castellanos Moya's El asco and Claudia Hernández's De fronteras. It demonstrates how these works, through their seemingly anti-aesthetic form and style, manage to produce an aesthetic experience in a context where people's capacity for emotional and reflective engagement has been severely diminished. Out of this analysis emerges a notion of the postwar aesthetic as being one which makes do with present forms of life—its traumas and anxieties, its violence and sordidness—and unlocks the emancipatory potential that lies within them.


trauma, affect, Central American literature, Horacio Castellanos Moya, Claudia Hernández

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