Given the cultural ascendance of visuality, what is the place of the written text within visual culture? Are there ways in which written narrative strategies privilege image over word? This essay studies how three Latin American texts move generationally toward the current era of virtuality that is increasingly steeped in the visual: Manuel Puig's El beso de la mujer araña (The Kiss of the Spider Woman) (1976), Alberto Fuguet's Las películas de mi vida (The Movies of My Life) (2003), and Rita Indiana Hernández's La estrategia de Chochueca (The Strategy of Chochueca) (1999). In these texts, the cross-genre “nesting” of the visual within the written becomes less precise of boundary, progressing from a clearly demarcated cinematic ekphrasis to a mode of writing that becomes stylistically cinematic. The role of visuality in these works as a vehicle for the representation of self and world suggests that the visual is a somatic epistemological mode in which the entire body is engaged as an interpreter of its surroundings and a producer of social meaning. In this sense, visuality is the metonymic sensorial medium of the thinking body and the feeling brain as against the outmoded word of the rational mind. These texts are representative of an epistemic shift from reason to affect that is paralleled by a shift from word to image—understanding visuality as the dominant metonym of sensorial representation and cognition.

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