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Abstract

In his article "A Historical Account of Difference: A Comparative History of the Literary Cultures of Latin America," Mario J. Valdés addresses the well-recognized limitations of literary history as historical research. Valdés outlines the theoretical thinking that has guided the editors of The Oxford Comparative History of Latin American Literary Cultures to plan, organize, and complete the first history of literary culture of Latin America. The project is comparative, recognizing the radical diversity of the continent while at the same time it is an open-ended history that informs but does not attempt to provide a totalizing account of more than five hundred years of cultural development among the heterogeneous entities that make up Latin America. Valdés begins by considering the paradox of literary history, he then suggests ways that literary history can be shaped by the work of Michel Foucault, and he proposes a framework for a hermeneutics of literary history. Valdés also considers the challenges that face the literary historian whose work now includes cultural history. All of these considerations are then placed within the context of an effort to create a literary and cultural history of Latin America.

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