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  You are in: Home > Latin American Studies > The Body, Subject & Subjected  

The Body, Subject & Subjected
The Representation of the Body Itself, Illness, Injury, Treatment & Death in Spain and Indigenous and Hispanic American Art & Literature

Debra D. Andrist

The Editor, Debra D. Andrist, Professor of Spanish at Sam Houston State University (SHSU), was multi-term founding chair of Foreign Languages there, former multi-term Chair of Modern & Classical Languages/Cullen Professor of Spanish at the University of St. Thomas/Houston (UST) and rose to Associate Professor of Spanish, Baylor University. Her scholarly work focuses on art and literature by and about women and medical topics.


The Body, Subject & Subjected has won the South Central Modern Language Association book prize for 2016

Hominids have always been obsessed with representing their own bodies. The first “selfies” were prehistoric negative hand images and human stick figures, followed by stone and ceramic representations of the human figure. Thousands of years later, moving via historic art and literature to contemporary social media, the contemporary term “selfie” was self-generated.

The Body, Subject & Subjected illuminates some “selfies.” This collection of critical essays about the fixation on the human self addresses a multi-faceted geographic set of cultures – the Iberian Peninsula to pre-Columbian America and Hispanic America – analyzing such representations from medical, literal and metaphorical perspectives over centuries. Chapter contributions address the representation of the body itself as subject, in both visual and textual manners, and illuminate attempts at control of the environment, of perception, of behavior and of actions, by artists and authors. Other chapters address the body as subjected to circumstance, representing the body as affected by factors such as illness, injury, treatment and death. These myriad effects on the body are interpreted through the brushes of painters and the pens of authors for social and/or personal control purposes. The essays reveal critics’ insights when “selfies” are examined through a focused “lens” over a breadth of cultures. The result, complex and unique, is that what is viewed – the visual art and literature under discussion – becomes a mirror image, indistinguishable from the component viewing apparatus, the “lens”.

Part I. Introduction to the Body as Subject: The Body Itself & Its Functions
I. The Body and Indigenous Control of Environment. The Fluids of Life: Blood, Water, Power and Bugs a la Tlaxcalteca, Jeanne Gillespie, PhD
II. The Body and Control via Artistic Exercise. Pablo Picasso: From Physical to Mental Dissection of the Human Body, Enrique Mallen, PhD
III. The Female Body and Control via Transformation: The Beauty and the Beast, Debra D. Andrist, PhD
IV. The Body and Caricature for Socio-Political Control. Aesthetically Resilient: Josep Bartolí Guiu’s Political Cartoons in España Libre (1939-1977 NYC), a Spanish Civil War Exile Newspaper, María Montserrat Feu López, PhD

Part II. Introduction to the Body as Subjected to Dysfunctions, Illness & Injury
V. Control of the Dysfunctional Body. Seeing With Eyes Shut: Representations of Blindness in Pablo Picasso, Enrique Mallén, PhD
VI. Control of the Female Body. Threats and Violence vs. Strategies, Debra D. Andrist, PhD
VII. Control of the “Gay” Male Body. Ravaged by Disease, AIDS in the Latin-American Literature Scenario, Jorge Chavarro, MD, MA (co-translated by Debra D. Andrist, PhD)

Part III. Introduction to the Body as Subjected: Prescriptions for Treatment/Cures (Medical and/or Other Interventions)
VIII. The Body Cured by Cleansing: Washing Away the Evidence: Midwives and Ritual Cleansing in Mesoamerica and Colonial New Spain, Jeanne Gillespie, PhD
IX. The Body Cured by Plants: Where Have all the (Chocolate and Popcorn) Flowers Gone? Recovering Healing Botanicals in Nahuatl Poetry, Jeanne Gillespie, PhD
X. The (Spiritual) Body Cured by Alchemy: Francisco de Quevedo and His Knowledge of Alchemy, RoseMary Salum-Nemer, MA (translated by Debra D. Andrist, PhD)

Part IV. The Body as Subjected: Death
XI. The Body as Sacrifice for the Future: La Llorona: Death of a Boy, Birth of a Nation, Norma A. Mouton, PhD
XII. The (Dead) Body as Catharsis in Art: Death & the Mask in Pablo Picasso, Enrique Mallen, PhD
XIII. The Transcendence of the Body: Gabriel García Márquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera: Love and Death as New-World Mosaic, Lauren M. P. Derby, ABD


“A fascinating tour across genres and cultures of the Hispanic and Pre-Colombian worlds, illuminating concepts and depictions of the body as identity, conscience and the subject of art and literature. How has a subject so basic been ignored for so long? Andrist now corrects the record.” Nicolás Kanellos, Ph.D., Brown Foundation Professor, Director of Arte Público Press and Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage

“This very original and ground-breaking book consists of two primary themes: the human body and its functions as a subject and the body as it becomes subjected to external factors. The second theme includes three sub-themes which show how the body is subjected to illness, injury and the treatments and interventions and the eventual death in some cases. This is the best book available on the subject.” Genaro J. Pérez, Ph.D., Professor of Spanish, Co-Editor, Monographic Review,

The Body Subject and Subjected is a salient contribution to the field of carnal hermeneutics. The contributors of this provocative volume engage the reality of embodiment as experienced in the Hispanic lifeworld. The range of topics, including environmental, political, perceptual, and medical concerns are engaged from multiple forms of Hispanic aesthetics. Anyone fascinated by the aesthetic rationality that emerges from Hispanic life and culture will find these articles invaluable.” John Francis Burke, author of Mestizo Democracy: The Politics of Crossing Borders

“This collection of critical essays meticulously provides insightful examination on social and artistic life over a grand dimension of multi-cultural, trans-historic, and trans-Atlantic significance, which facilitates the reader profound understanding of the values and (self) challenges in the Hispanic world as well as for the whole humanity.” Haiqing Sun, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Spanish, Chair of the Department of Foreign Languages, Texas Southern University

“This book is a compelling exploration of aesthetic representations and interpretations of the human body in the Indigenous, Hispanic American, and Spanish traditions. The thirteen essays based on varying methodological approaches provide thought-provoking material for both students and academics as the essays underscore how artists portray the body as both subject itself, and subjected to, a multitude of external factors.” Kimberly A. Habegger, Associate Professor of Spanish, Department of Modern & Classical Languages, Regis University

“This book is unique in scope and focus, as it covers a wide range of Hispanic cultures and time periods brought together by the common denominator of attitudes and perspectives toward medicine. The interdisciplinary nature of the work offers a wide range of potential readers and academic fields. I have had the opportunity to hear Dr. Andrist speak on this topic in several conferences I have attended and found the work highly original, as well as intellectually stimulating. I teach Comparative Literature and this is a work I will consider integrating into my syllabus.” Gwendolyn Díaz, St. Mary’s University, San Antonio, Texas


Publication Details

Hardback ISBN:
Page Extent / Format:
256 pp. / 229 x 152 mm
Release Date:
January 2016
  Illustrated:   Yes
Hardback Price:
£55.00 / $69.95

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