How Long Can the Peasantry Last? Juan Rulfo on the Farmer-Ejido Road to Capitalism

When and Where

Friday, October 27, 2023 2:00 pm to 3:30 pm
Victoria College 323
91 Charles St. West. Toronto, ON M5S 1K7


Ericka Beckman


We are delighted to welcome professor Ericka Beckman to our Department for a visit. Please, join us for this public lecture.

This talk situates Juan Rulfo’s fiction in relation to the contradictory history of Mexican land reform. While Rulfo has been consistently read as a literary genius whose works resist sociological interpretation, this talk argues that his fictional oeuvre traveled along a particular ‘road’ to capitalism in agriculture in mid-twentieth-century Mexico. Against the glare of aestheticism, I propose that the experimental character of Rulfo’s works hails from a key material question of his era: How long, under ever-intensifying processes of immiseration, might the small peasantry survive? Such a reading, I argue, permits not only an expanded understanding of Rulfo, but unique social processes themselves: in this case, Rulfo's aesthetic provides insight into a logic of Mexican land reform through rhetorical maneuvers such as analepsis, as well as through startling images of the small peasantry as a kind of living dead.

About the Presenter

Ericka Beckman is an Associate Professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research focuses primarily on narratives of capitalist modernity and modernization in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Latin America. Her first first book, Capital Fictions: The Literature of Latin America's Export Age (Minnesota, 2013), studied how literature represented the incorporation of the region's economies into world commodity markets at the end of the nineteenth century.  She is currently finishing a book project titled "Agrarian Questions:  The Latin American Novel on the Road to Capitalism," which examines how, over the course of the twentieth century, the novel became a privileged vehicle for evoking uneven but at the same time momentous historical transitions to capitalism in agriculture.


Department of Spanish & Portuguese, Centre for Comparative Literature


91 Charles St. West. Toronto, ON M5S 1K7