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Anxiety in Black and White: Melodramatic Affectivity in Daniel Alarcón’s "City of Clowns"

Mon, May 27, 10:45am to 12:15pm, TBA


This presentation comments upon the means through which Latin America’s peripheral alterity is reinforced through representations of melodramatic affectivity in Daniel Alarcón and Sheila Alavarado’s graphic novel City of Clowns (2015). In this text’s downbeat representations of Peru, the anxiety affect mediates both between author and text, and between text and reader, which may invoke barbarous visions of the global south in Alarcón’s primary audience: the English-speaking literary public. Framed by family melodrama, Alarcón’s tale presents an anxiety-ridden vision of contemporary Peru in which simulated feeling is the norm, demonstrating emotional detachment from Lima’s urban environs.
A primary concern of this presentation is to examine the possible effects of affective anxiety among an English-speaking audience, potentially unfamiliar with contemporary Latin American social realities, and how that reading might differ from Alarcón’s translated works geared more specifically to a Peruvian audience – the graphic novel Ciudad de payasos (2010), for instance, which was the first graphic adaptation of Alarcón’s English-language short story. In reading anxiety in Alarcón’s tale, this presentation ultimately questions exactly what types of representations of contemporary Latin America become successful in the English-speaking literary marketplace, thus demonstrating the precarity of Latino and/or Latin American authorship when representing Latin America to a globalized audience.