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This book explains the fundamentals of semiotic theory (the study of signs), and applies it to more than twenty works by a dozen Latin American and Mexican American authors. Using a post-modernist interpretation of signs, Breining makes the point that there exists a relationship of the privileged and disenfranchised within Latin America and Chicano literature. Covering a span of more than five hundred years, from pre-Hispanic times to the late twentieth century, Breining demonstrates how the signs found with the literature of each period of Latin American history, define social interactions, cultural anomalies, and political situations.


“. . . a tour de force of literary and philosophical analysis . . . the greatest recommendation of Professor Breining’s book, [is] that it gives in to no one understanding of the sign but, rather, reveals the sign and its constituting contexts as multiple, as living, and as always more than what any one person can say about them.” - Prof. W. John Coletta, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point

“Dr. Breining's book is a unique and valuable offering to all of those interested insemiotics and its application to Latin American and Mexican American poetry, narrative, and drama.”- Prof. Felipe Rodriguez Duran, National University of Mexico

"Because of its in-depth exploration and completeness, this work is a must for all researchers interested in semiotics." - Prof. Maria del Carmen Saldana Rocha, National University of Mexico, Mexico City

Table of Contents

1. A General Synopsis of Semiotics
Pre-modern Age Semiological Traditions and Literature
Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Literary Semiotics
Charles Sanders Peirce
Ferdinand de Saussure
2. Semiotics in Latin American Theater and Drama
Cultural Perpetuation and Change through Semantics, Signs, and Structure in Colonial Guatemalan Theater
Structuralism and Semiotics
History and Synopsis of the Rabinal Achí
Structure of Speech and Text
Andrés de Olmos and his Final Judgment
Fray Andrés de Olmos, the Man
The Nexcuitilmachiotl motenhua juicio final
The Early Performances and Texts
A Synopsis of El juicio final
The Hybridized El juicio final: Mis(Re)codification
Dramatic Personae
Staging Techniques
Performance Sites
Colonial Santo Domingo in the Sixteenth Century and Cristóbal de Llerena’s Entremés (1588)
Subversion and Liminality of Juana Inés de la Cruz as Represented in the Social Dramas of her Theater
The Theater of Eusebio Vela and a Discovery of National Identity through Semiological Control
The Voice of the Master: Linguistic Colonialism and the Power of the Sign in Twentieth-Century Latin American Drama
3. Semiotics in Latin American and Chicano Narrative
The Semiological Sign as Portrayed by the Other in Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca’s Shipwrecked
José Enrique Rodó and the Signification of Ariel
A Misinterpretation of Signs in Rayuela
A Semiological Use of Space and Time in Gazapo by Gustavo Sainz
The Semiotic Narrative of Arturo Islas
Semiotics and Latin American Film
A Psychoanalytical Rethinking of Como agua para Chocolate
A Semiotic Use of J. S. Bach’s Music in La muralla Verde by Armando Robles Godoy
The Children of Sánchez: Patriarchy and Culturally
Interpreted Signs
Musical Semiology and El norte
4. Semiotics in Latin American and Chicano Poetry
Textual Semiotics with a Linguistic Underpinning in the Poem Popol vuh
Andrés Bello and National Semiology
French Symbolism and Latin America
Language and the Treatment of Women in Selected Works of Mariano Azuela and Rubén Darío
Francisco Alarcón and the Poetic Sign
1. The Nexcuitilmachiotl motenhua juicio final (1531-33) by Fray Andrés de Olmos
2. Entremés (1588) by Cristóbal de Llerena

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