Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Leila Gómez

Second Advisor

Javier Krauel


Literary journals and collections in post-revolutionary Mexico developed with vigor due to the secretary of public education, José Vasconcelos’s financial backing. The literary group, los Contemporáneos, received support from Vasconcelos and went on to pen the first Mexican literary canon of the century. Carlos Pellicer, Jaime Torres Bodet, Xavier Villaurrutia, José Gorostiza, Enrique González Rojo, and Bernardo Ortiz de Montellano published the literary journals: La Falange (1922-1923), Antena (1924), Ulises (1927-1928), y Contemporáneos (1928-1931). Vasconcelos’s administrative role as a patron of the arts evolved into that of a political leader when he published the philosophical doctrine, La Raza Cósmica, and ran for the presidency in 1929. The Contemporáneos’ literary journals and collections from 1920 to 1940 juxtaposed with Vasconcelos’s La Raza Cósmica bring to light the artists’ and the politician’s conviviality and shared prerogative of introducing “authentic” Mexican arts. In addition, the correspondence between the authors, Vasconcelos, and the Mexican Secretary of Public Education reveals how the politics of the time directly formed the following themes in the literature: travel, race, and dehistoricization. Vasconcelos offers prologues for the literature, secures travel funds, and ensures employment for the authors; however, when Vasconcelos loses his presidential campaign and his philosophy is seen as positivistic the Contemporáneos’ readership also declines. The literature by Vasconcelos and the Contemporáneos have travel, race, and dehistoricization in common, and by considering these three motifs it is clear how the arts first prospered from Vasconcelos and then suffered from his political failure.