John Guillory's Cultural Capital (1993) is a peculiar and instructive reading for a scholar of Mexican and Latin American literature in the US academy. A fellow Bourdieusian, I have always admired Guillory's account of power and economic differentials in the material work of literature in education. The book continues to be bold and timely thanks to its way of raising the question of the literary canon in academia critically but without conceding to the pieties of neoliberal multiculturalism. Guillory's work establishes a framework to address the canon as a matter of capital and power rather than of representation. In this, Cultural Capital predicted the limits and aporias of how the academic humanities in the United States, and cultural institutions and universities at large, have thoroughly normalized a neoliberal idea of cultural justice. Our cultural debates continue to render accurate his critique of both “the right-wing design of purging noncanonical works...
Cultural Capital: Reflections from a Latin Americanist
Ignacio M. Sánchez Prado is Jarvis Thurston and Mona van Duyn Professor in Humanities at Washington University in St. Louis. His research focuses on Mexican cultural institutions, with a focus on literature, cinema, and gastronomy. He is the author of seven books, including Strategic Occidentalism: On Mexican Fiction, the Neoliberal Book Market, and the Question of World Literature (2018) and Screening Neoliberalism: Transforming Mexican Cinema, 1988–2012 (2014). The most recent of his fifteen edited collections is Mexican Literature as World Literature (2022). His public writing has appeared in the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Words Without Borders, and other publications. He serves as editor of two book series: Latin American Cinema at SUNY Press and Critical Mexican Studies at Vanderbilt University Press. He served as the Kluge Chair for the Cultures of the South at the Library of Congress in the summer of 2021.
Ignacio M. Sánchez Prado; Cultural Capital: Reflections from a Latin Americanist. Genre 1 April 2023; 56 (1): 49–67. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00166928-10346808
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