The history of Brazilian print culture is closely connected to the establishment of national literature in the 19th century. Indeed, after three centuries of prohibition of printing activity in the colony by the Portuguese Crown, Impresão Régia, the first legal printing establishment in Brazil, was created in 1808 due to the arrival of the Portuguese royal family during the Napoleonic wars. From the late implementation of Imprensa Régia, which became Typographia Nacional after the independence of Brazil in 1822, to the consolidation of the publishing world in the second half of the century, marked by the controversial French presence, the discourses on literature and print production modes tend to reflect the different circulation spheres. In fact, following the long period of colonization under Portuguese rule, print production modes were implemented simultaneously with the consolidation of a broad print culture, characterized by the growth of newspapers, the circulation of images, and the impactful arrival of the novel. Undeniably, the sudden and concurrent arrival of the two worlds—technical and cultural—in addition to the paradoxical development of the print world, marked by its two technical systems—artisanal and industrial—strongly influenced the material aspects of 19th-century Brazilian publishing production. In this context, under the argument of an alleged precariousness of local print production, writers, critics, typographers, engravers, and bookbinders created literary and editorial polemics in newspapers, magazines, and books that contributed to the very construction of a “literary system.” Despite the intrinsic relationships established between literature and publishing, the multidisciplinary field of the history of the book insists on separating approaches dedicated to the technical production processes and the material analysis of objects of written culture from the approaches dedicated to print circulation and uses. Understanding the contradictions imposed by the simultaneous implementation of two technical systems, which are found when analyzing the traces left by the print equipment supply trade and the conditions to build a printing workshop, contributes to understanding the historical conditions of print production. In this sense, the historiographical perspective dialogues with heritage studies in the notion of printing heritage, understood in its tangible and intangible dimensions, considering the machines and tools of the past, together with the techniques then in use. In fact, while bringing together a set of material, technical, and mechanical elements of different production modes, printing heritage also contains the memories of the human actions that set them in motion.
Donna M. Kabalen de Bichara
Hundreds of 19th-century newspapers and magazines published in the region of the US–Mexico border are housed in archival collections in Mexico and the United States, and they provide access to historical, cultural, and ideological perspectives involving two world spheres that are intimately connected. Archival collections in the following databases provide access to periodicals published in the United States as well as in Mexico: the Newspaper and Periodicals Collection at the National Autonomous University of Mexico; the Readex Collection of Hispanic American Newspapers, 1808–1980; the Nettie Lee Benson Library’s microfilmed collection of 19th-century independent newspapers; the digital collection of periodicals and magazines from the Capilla Alfonsina Biblioteca Universitaria and the Biblioteca Universitaria Raúl Rangel Frias, at the Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León; and the EBSCO Arte Público Hispanic Historical Collections, Series 1 and 2. These collections house digitized and microfilmed newspapers that include those published in the US states of California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, and Texas, as well as Mexican states such as Baja California, Sonora, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas. The region includes areas that share not only a physical border but also a cultural memory based on the effects of historical collisions that have contributed to the formation of new meanings regarding these world spheres that can be understood as two intersecting semiotic systems that exist as a continuum. The intersection of these spaces represents the transnational aspect of periodical print culture of the late 19th century that communicates worldviews that are semiotically and ideologically heterogeneous. Indeed, cultural spaces that exist in the borderland (or that symbolic space that forms a border or frontier in a cultural sense), are semiotic realities that unfold in unpredictable and indeterminate ways as a result of historical processes. Periodical print culture produced in the border region provides access to diverse social, cultural, political, and religious perspectives. Furthermore, the history of print culture involves a process of communication of both social and cultural history. As objects of study, borderland newspapers ultimately provide the basis for understanding the circulation of ideas.
Ricardo L. Ortiz
For half of his nearly sixty-year writing career, John Rechy was recognized primarily for his contributions to homosexual literature in the United States, even as from the beginning of that career he consistently cast his major protagonists as young men of mixed ethnicity, part-Mexican and part-Scottish, hailing like him from the border city of El Paso, Texas. As the fields of queer and US Latinx literary studies emerged in the 1980s, critics and scholars began to study the important intersectionalities of Rechy’s multiple identities more explicitly and intentionally, and that attention has been sustained ever since, leading to a significant rethinking of earlier responses to Rechy’s literary work, and a significant opening of the possible viable readerly approaches to Rechy’s entire writing career. Underrepresented in this matrix of critical approaches toward Rechy’s work that favor issues of identity, however, is a more direct, committed interest in describing the specifically literary, and aesthetic, aspects of Rechy’s contributions to the cultural traditions to which he matters, regardless of whether that interest foregrounds or not the understandably compelling factors of identity (ethnic, gender, sexual, class, geographic, etc.) that drive so much extant Rechy criticism. That critical project will surely benefit from a greater attention to, for example, Rechy’s experiments with form, style, and the materiality of print across the six decades of his career, very likely discovering there that those experiments can open alternative doors to understanding not only Rechy’s artistry, but also the unique qualities of his queerness, and the unique qualities of his latinidad.