The last several decades have witnessed a reorientation of the political and a globalization of the cultural in Latin America, shifting literature's function as a homogenizing, citizen-forming institution to a more dispersed, fragmented, and (potentially) democratic and liberating practice. At the same time, and perhaps in response to this cultural shift, the field of Latin American literary studies has expanded to include cultural studies, postcolonial theory, performance studies, gender studies, Africana studies, and subaltern studies, at once expanding and disrupting the boundaries of literature, criticism, and of Latin America itself. In light of these dramatic transformations within a globalized Latin American culture, as well as within the field of Latin American literary studies itself, what value can we attribute to aesthetics today? Is a reconsideration of artistic creation a mere return to the hegemonic lettered city described by Angel Rama? Or can we begin to think about an "ethical potential" inscribed within the act of reading, that is, an encounter with otherness that irreversibly alters the reading subject?

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