Beyond the Cold War Paradigm: Literary Radicals in Buenos Aires, Lima, and New York

Anna Bjork Einarsdottir
Comparative Literature
UC Davis

For the investigation of proletarian literature of the 1920s and 30s, it is necessary to move beyond the cold-war paradigm that governed studies undertaken in the period between 1940-1990. Since the mid- and late 1990s new research on literary radicalism, social realism and proletarian aesthetics has been undertaken. This work has depended on unrestricted access to documents of the past. In my study of Latin American and USA proletarian literature of the 1920s and 30s, I have paid particular attention to how the movement for proletarian literature traveled between places and to what extent it drew on preexisting national literary traditions. This work has depended on establishing (1) the local context in which the writers worked, both in regards to national literary conventions and local communist parties; (2) to what extent local communist parties and writers, artists and intellectuals communicated with the Soviet Union; and (3) whether contacts across national boundaries that circumvented the Soviet Union were formed. For my thesis I have undertaken such work, however, in order to finish the last chapter of my dissertation, it is necessary to consult primary non-circulating documents at the NYU’s Tamiment library in New York.