Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2017

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Leila G. Gómez

Second Advisor

Nuria Silleras-Fernández

Third Advisor

Tania Martuscelli

Fourth Advisor

Mary K. Long

Fifth Advisor

Arturo J. Aldama

Abstract

At the end of the 19th Century, a unique style associated with homosexuality known as Camp arrived in Latin America. Despite previous statements explaining Camp aesthetics as a postmodern cultural manifestation, this study argues that Camp can be traced in Latin America to the end of the 19th Century with the founding text of Latin American Camp, De sobremesa (1894) by José Asunción Silva. This novel shows similarities with the literary work of Oscar Wild, who was facing trial for being a sodomite (homosexual) at the time. Camp semiotics are employed in De sobremesa to articulate both gay identity and desire through the figure of the dandy, his dress codes, and his sensibility towards interior design. Nevertheless, these aesthetics are interpreted as manifestations of excess, resulting in an apparent case of homosexuality, explained at the time as a disease. In the 1940s, Eva Perón, through the use of Camp and excess is able to legitimize herself and claim a spot in the political arena as a diva. To archive this, Eva implements high end clothing and accessories to become a brand, a fashion, and a trend that is followed by the masses. For the first time in Latin American history, clothing, style and politics fused into one image, Eva Perón. In the sixties, her image is re-appropriated by the LGBTQ community and transformed via drag in the play Eva Perón by the Argentinian playwright Copi. At the end of the 70s, Latin American cinema shows a new attitude toward homosexuality. For the first time in Latin American cinematic history, homosexuality is portrayed in a dignified way. Mexican film-artist Arturo Ripstein become a pioneer in using Camp to change the perception of homosexuality through his film El lugar sin límites, based on José Donoso’s novel. The fictional characters, like la Manuela, a drag queen, implement Camp as a strategy to blur the lines between sex, body and gender. Through these different cases, we see the manifestation of Camp in countries like Argentina, Colombia and Mexico.

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