A Ghostly Splendour: Gothic Portraits of Argentine Aristocracy

When and Where

Friday, November 19, 2021 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Online, Zoom


Carlos Halaburda, Alejandro Soifer & Susan Antebi


We are glad to invite you to this colloquium to examine the Gothic affiliations of the aristocratic literary tradition in modern Argentina. The patrician family of the 19th and 20th centuries generated a productive aesthetic site of deadly eccentricities in response to a persistent feeling of being invaded by a wicked force. The Gothic impulse shaped the Argentine autobiographical canon, and the quest for purity, honour and virtue turned into a divine mandate. From the 1880s, a period of hyper-production of personal memories, travels, clinical studies, family novels and nativist dramaturgy until the late 20th century’s scandalous exposés of the elite, an insistence on revising the motif of the patrician home in moral decline became the overpowering allegory of a country in perpetual identity crisis. We seek to untangle the Gothic question by delving into the elite’s moral obsessions and unspeakable family secrets.

This colloquium will include two presentations by our colleagues in the Department of Spanish & Portuguese:

1. Purifying Fires and Underworlds of Pleasures in Belle Époque Buenos Aires, by Carlos G. Halaburda, SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow.
This presentation examines the literary making of necro-cartographies of queer pleasures in Belle Époque Buenos Aires. It explores how queer subcultures gained visibility through an assemblage of literary, scientific, and photographic artifacts put together by the lettered elites, which gave them a representative framework to stage the great spectacle of perverse Buenos Aires.

2. Faceoff: Monstrosity and the Building of Argentina’s Nation State in Jorge Baron Biza’s "El desierto y su semilla" (1998), by Alejandro Soifer, PhD Candidate in Spanish.
This presentation studies the novelistic treatment of female disfigurement and the reconstruction of the Argentinian national narrative in the novel El desierto y su semilla (1998) by Jorge Baron Biza.

Respondent: Susan Antebi, Associate Professor.

About the Presenters:

Carlos G. Halaburda is a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Spanish & Portuguese at the University of Toronto. He is currently teaching the graduate seminar "Queer Spectacles in Fin-De-Siècle Latin America".

Alejandro Soifer is a novelist, cultural journalist, and PhD candidate in Hispanic Studies at the University of Toronto, specializing in Mexican gothic fiction.

Contact Information


Department of Spanish & Portuguese