Moving Forward, Looking Back

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Moving Forward, Looking Back: Trains, Literature, and the Arts in the River Plate by Sarah M. Misemer argues that the train is paradoxically an anachronistic and modern indicator of River Plate national identity when seen in the literature and film of the region. The train's connections with new concepts of time and space, as well as the rise of the industrial age, make it a symbol loaded with cultural meanings. This project traces the importance of the train as a marker of key moments in Argentine and Uruguayan history from 1854 to the present (nation-building, neo-colonialism, modernization/industrialization, dictatorship, privatization, and debt crisis). Through textual, filmic, and historical accounts this study demonstrates that the train is not simply an icon of the nineteenth-century's Naturalist movement, but rather a powerful contemporary metaphor for authors and directors of the River Plate as they communicate/create collective memory and cultural values in a region mired in uneven spurts of modernization and progress.