Theses Doctoral

Printing Presses, Typographers, and the Reader as People: State Publishing in Cuba, Venezuela, and Chile (1960-present)

Gordon-Burroughs, Jessica

Among other paradigm shifts, in the last decades Latin America has underwent not only the privatization and corporatization of the historical State, but also the de-materialization of the book in paper and ink. Far from a death knell, however, this apparent limit has instead given rise to a further visibility of the support, material, and conditions of production of the historical book object. This dissertation will reconstruct through period sources, critical essays, fiction, photography, and film the hallowed, yet troubled, status of the State-sponsored book. Tracing an arc from the utopian 1960s and increasingly privatized 1990s and 2000s, I consider imaginaries of reading through the materials and cultural politics that comprise books in the most concrete of senses—paper, format, copyright policy, and reproduction technologies, in particular Xerox, linotype, and mimeograph. These elements form subjectivities that extend beyond what is normally understood as the reader to broader collective narratives.

Something as simple as paper made of tobacco or sugarcane, for example, may link questions as diverse as anti-colonialism, the popular national subject, and racial, ethnic, and gender alterity. Conversing with and, simultaneously, contesting the work of critics such as Roger Chartier, Pierre Bourdieu, Jacques Rancière, and Johanna Drucker, I argue that what at first may seem anecdotal is instead a map of the material, spatial, and subjective distribution of knowledge told through the material life of books. The following chapters, will address the nascent critical discourse on book materiality in Latin America, and then turn to three case studies drawn from Cuba, Chile, and Venezuela that variously imagine new subjectivities of the reader.

Geographic Areas


  • thumnail for GordonBurroughs_columbia_0054D_12986.pdf GordonBurroughs_columbia_0054D_12986.pdf application/pdf 66.2 MB Download File

More About This Work

Academic Units
Latin American and Iberian Cultures
Thesis Advisors
Montaldo, Graciela Raquel
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
October 6, 2015