Title page for ETD etd-04142009-201914

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Espinoza Contreras, Telba
Author's Email Address tespin1@tigers.lsu.edu
URN etd-04142009-201914
Degree Master of Arts (M.A.)
Department Foreign Languages & Literatures
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Andrea Morris Committee Chair
Elena Castro Committee Member
Laura Martins Committee Member
  • popular music
  • hegemony
  • caribbean literature
  • power struggle
  • race
  • class
Date of Defense 2009-04-03
Availability unrestricted
Popular music is a vital part of the cultural and social life in the Hispanic Caribbean. Undoubtedly, musical contributions from Cuba and Puerto Rico to the rest of the world and especially to the rest of Latin America are of exceptional value. For instance, Cuba has created and exported the bolero, and Puerto Rican musical rhythms are at the core of salsa music. Caribbean literature has not been indifferent to the tremendous importance of music in the lives of Caribbean people; therefore, many literary texts have included the popular music in their narratives in many ways. For example, some of them have adapted its rhythm to shape the structure of theirs texts; others have included popular songs in their narratives as a central part of the text or as “backdrop”. An example of the connection between the literary discourse and the musical discourse are the texts analyzed in this thesis, Ella cantaba boleros by Guillermo Cabrera Infante, La guaracha del macho Camacho y La importancia de llamarse Daniel Santos by Luis Rafael Sánchez.

In this thesis I do not understand popular music as a neutral expression beyond conflicts of power. I define popular music in political terms, that is to say, as an arena of struggle among various groups that try to decide and define what music of value is and what music should represent the nation. So, in this thesis I explore how popular music is treated in Caribbean literature, specifically from Cuba and Puerto Rico. Specifically I consider if the writers from the Hispanic Caribbean show in their texts that popular music is an arena of constant negotiation, where several groups are always trying to attribute to it its own meanings so that their own particular “vision of the world” would be considered the most valid. Or if on the contrary they include popular music in their texts assuming that music is a symbol of national unity that dilutes inequalities and differences.

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