Beyond Literary Landscapes—Latin American Modernismo

From my early beginnings as a young introvert, the public library has always been a bit of a refuge.  Years later, not much has changed, albeit with an additional affinity for endless hours spent scouring second-hand bookstores to add to my ever-growing “to-read” pile.

From one bookworm to another, this column will be underscoring and outlining various literary genres, authors, and recent reads and can serve as an introduction for those unfamiliar with these works, as a refresher for long-time aficionados, and maybe as an inspiration for readers to share their own suggested topics.  Do you have a topic that you would like covered in this column?  Feel free to contact me for an interview and a feature in an upcoming column.


Following up from last week’s column on Modernist Literature in the United States and Great Britain, this week’s column focuses on the Modernismo period in Latin America.

Although Modernismo as a movement began in the late 19 century and ended in 1920, it continued to be influential in following years throughout the region.

At times, the movement can be difficult to define.  Indeed, “the movement had no manifesto or organized principles, [instead] it stemmed from a reaction against the literary naturalism of Émile Zola and against the wider bourgeois conformity and materialism of Western society.”

However, it is possible to say that several defining characteristics include cultural affinity and awareness, the rejection of formal traditional styles in favour of experimentation with rhythm, metre, and symbolism, as well as the attempt to perfect poetry.

Some examples of Modernismo authors include Rubén Darío and Juan Ramón Jiménez.

Poet, journalist, and diplomat Rubén Darío was born on January 18, 1867, in Metapa, Nicaragua and died on February 6, 1916, León, Nicaragua.  He is known as the leader of the Modernismo movement, who experimented with “with rhythm, metre, and imagery.”

Poet Juan Ramón Jiménez was born on December 24, 1881 in Moguer, Spain and died May 29, 1958 in San Juan, Puerto Rico.


Some examples of Modernismo works include Azul (Blue) by Rubén Darío and Almas de violeta (Souls of Violet) by Juan Ramón Jiménez.


These works are set throughout Latin America.


Many of these works take place during the 19 and 20-centiries.


This poetry may be of interest to AU students who would like to learn more about a well-known period in Latin American literature, and perhaps use it as a starting point to other notable periods, such as the Latin American Boom years.


AU’s wide range of diverse courses make it easy to study this topic in depth.  Courses related to Latin American Modernismo are available in a variety of disciplines, including one’s that may fit into your Degree Works.  (Always check with an AU counsellor to see if these particular courses fulfill your personal graduation requirements!)

AU students interested in learning more about this topic may enroll in ENGL 458: The Latin American Novel, a three-credit, senior-level course, which focuses on “the nature of Latin American literature, the questions of politics and history [and,] major themes or literary styles.”  (Note several prerequisites are required, including ENGL 211: Prose Forms and ENGL 212: Poetry and Plays or a first year English course.  Students are also encouraged to have completed ENGL 345: American Literature II, ENGL 361: Literature of the Harlem Renaissance, or another intermediate English course.)  Happy reading!

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