Licia Fiol-Matta (New York University) "Undertheoriorized: Voice in Chavela Vargas"
Tuesday, April 11 at 4:00pm
Mann Assembly Room, Paterno E103
Licia Fiol-Matta will discuss Chavela Vargas, who was born in Costa Rica but became Mexican
out of choice, identifying with the presumptively Mexican sound of the bolero ranchera. As is
well known, she succeeded in becoming one of Mexico's Golden Age icons, through her music
and also her public queer life. Fiol-Matta reviews the arc of Vargas' career, debunking the
common narrative of an unspecified “dark night of the soul” derailing Vargas personally and
professionally at around 1970. She examines how Vargas's turn to the political repertoire
makes much more sense to theorize her sudden absence from the performing and recording
scenes. She considers the politics behind her comeback as an older woman and global icon in
the 1990s. Voice, in its multilayered aspects, is the focal point of a dissident, feminist listening.
Licia Fiol-Matta’s research and teaching interests focus on modern and contemporary Latin
American literature and culture, gender and sexuality, critical theory, and music. She is
the author of A Queer Mother for the Nation: The State and Gabriela Mistral (University of
Minnesota Press, 2002) and The Great Woman Singer: Gender and Voice in Puerto Rican
Music (Duke University Press, 2017). Fiol-Matta is series co-editor of New Directions in Latino
American Cultures (Palgrave).
* Sponsored by the Department of Spanish, Italian, & Portuguese, the Latin American Studies Program, and the
University Libraries *
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