From reading to reality: print culture, collective identity, and nationalism in Uruguay and Argentina Public Deposited

Downloadable Content

Download PDF
Last Modified
  • March 21, 2019
  • Acree, William Garrett
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Romance Studies
  • Uruguay and Argentina are two of Latin America's most complete examples of how the intersection between print media and collective identities developed. Today visitors to the capital cities of Buenos Aires or Montevideo cannot help but notice the deep roots of written culture that are visible in the city centers. It is no surprise that these two countries have the highest literacy rates in Latin America, which has been the case since the late nineteenth century. The intriguing questions are these: How did literacy, written culture, and the clear public concern with writing and reading become both so widespread and integral to identity in these two nations? What makes the connection between print, the public sphere, and politics in the Río de la Plata unique? "From Reading to Reality" addresses these questions by providing a panoramic view of the development of Rioplatense print culture from the arrival of the first printing presses at the outset of the wars of independence in the early 1800s, to the first centenary celebration of independence in 1910. The chapters consider a range of print media and how they were received during the three key moments in this story, beginning with wartime newspapers and symbolic repertoires where the first attempts were made at patriotic poetry, moving to the phenomenon of popular gauchesque newspapers and verse used to politicize popular classes at mid-century (a form of popular literature not seen elsewhere), and concluding with a detailed look at lessons in patriotism and motherhood students learned in textbooks at the turn of the twentieth century. This study underscores how print culture in the region became part of daily life for all Uruguayans and Argentines, reshaping forms of communication, and how it took root in these two countries more effectively than anywhere else in Latin America. It is a 100-year tour that enables the reader to understand a unique relationship between print, power, and the public sphere that emerged along lines where statesmen and the novels they wrote played only a marginal part.
Date of publication
Resource type
Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • Chasteen, John Charles
  • Open access

This work has no parents.