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Mexico in Verse
A History of Music, Rhyme, and Power
Edited by Stephen Neufeld; Michael Matthews
360 pp. / 6.00 x 9.00 / 2015
Paper (978-0-8165-3132-5) [s]
Related Interest
  - Latin American Studies

The history of Mexico is spoken in the voice of ordinary people. In rhymed verse and mariachi song, in letters of romance and whispered words in the cantina, the heart and soul of a nation is revealed
Rich in historical data and thoughts about pursuing alternative interpretations of popular lyrical expressions.


This is the first book of its type. It is not a history of music, but rather, a cultural and gendered history of music and verse's use in questioning power and imagining community.

—Víctor M. Macías-González, co-editor of Masculinity and Sexuality in Mexico

[Mexico in Verse focuses] on understanding the subjectivities of subaltern social groups through their own forms of lyrical expression or the discursive engagement between dominant elites and subalterns. It helps open a window to understanding the lives and world views of ordinary people and oppressed social groups, challenging or legitimating the dominant discourse of power and the historical formation of national and social identities.

—Chris Frazer, author of Fighting Words: Competing Voices from the Mexican Revolution

in all its intimacy and authenticity. Mexico in Verse, edited by Stephen Neufeld and Michael Matthews, examines Mexican history through its poetry and music, the spoken and the written word.

Focusing on modern Mexico, from 1840 to the 1980s, this volume examines the cultural venues in which people articulated their understanding of the social, political, and economic change they witnessed taking place during times of tremendous upheaval, such as the Mexican-American War, the Porfiriato, and the Mexican Revolution. The words of diverse peoples—people of the street, of the field, of the cantinas—reveal the development of the modern nation. Neufeld and Matthews have chosen sources so far unexplored by Mexicanist scholars in order to investigate the ways that individuals interpreted—whether resisting or reinforcing—official narratives about formative historical moments.

The contributors offer new research that reveals how different social groups interpreted and understood the Mexican experience. The collected essays cover a wide range of topics: military life, railroad accidents, religious upheaval, children's literature, alcohol consumption, and the 1985 earthquake. Each chapter provides a translated song or poem that encourages readers to participate in the interpretive practice of historical research and cultural scholarship. In this regard, Mexico in Verse serves both as a volume of collected essays and as a classroom-ready primary document reader.

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