Modern Epics: José María Arguedas, Realism, and the Story of Capitalism in Twentieth-Century Peru
A public lecture by Ericka Beckman
University of Pennsylvania
In this lecture Prof. Beckman explores how Latin American fiction produced sophisticated readings of the major economic transformations of the twentieth century, especially the wide-scale transition from peasant-agrarian to urban societies.Focusing on the massively influential Peruvian anthropologist and novelist José María Arguedas, she approaches his realist fictional works as what the philosopher György Lukács called ‘modern epics’. These are narratives that attempted to tell the story of deepening, though always highly uneven and contradictory, processes of indigenous dispossession and proletarianization across the twentieth century. What does it mean to rethink this narrative history today, and what can it tell us about contemporary social conditions in Latin America?