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date: 26 February 2024

Ángel Ramalocked

Ángel Ramalocked

  • José Eduardo GonzálezJosé Eduardo GonzálezModern Languages, University of Nebraska-Lincoln


Ángel Rama (1926–1983) was a prominent Uruguayan literary critic and theorist whose most important and influential work was produced between the mid-1960s and 1983, when he was killed in an airplane accident that took the lives of several writers, artists, and performers. He will forever be associated with the group of Latin American fiction writers known as the Boom movement, whose work Rama promoted. These authors achieved sudden critical and commercial success in the 1960s and became known worldwide for their innovative and often experimental fiction. The group included Nobel Prize winners such as Gabriel García Márquez and Mario Vargas Llosa, as well as other well-known fiction authors such as Carlos Fuentes and Julio Cortázar. Rama was influential in advancing a sociological interpretation of Latin American literary history, especially framing contemporary appreciation of regional styles, such as modernismo and the gauchoesque genre (literary works about gaucho lives and adventures), from a political perspective or by studying the forces at work in the local reception of international styles like the avant-garde movement. In American academia, Rama’s work is best known for two theories that he developed about Latin American culture: literary transculturation and the lettered city. Transculturation is an anthropological term that Rama used for describing the process of cultural negotiation between Latin American traditional worldviews and values and the cultural modernization entering that geographical region from the advanced centers of the Anglo-European world. For its part, the theory presented in The Lettered City focuses on the history of the traditionally close relationship since colonial times between intellectuals in Latin American and state power. This is also the aspect of Rama’s work that has had the greatest influence in the scholarly perception and interpretation of Latin American culture in the United States. The Lettered City has become a book taught in a wide variety of historical- and cultural-studies courses with emphasis on Latin America. It has greatly influenced our perception of colonial and 19th-century Latin American lettered culture. It has also been used to study challenges and alternatives to an urban-centered view of civilization.


  • Latin American and Caribbean Literatures
  • Literary Theory

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