Guardians of Discourse


Guardians of Discourse

Journalism and Literature in Porfirian Mexico

Kevin M. Anzzolin

284 pages
1 photograph, 20 illustrations, index


May 2024


$60.00 Pre-order

About the Book

During Porfirio Díaz’s thirty-year rule, Mexico dealt with the press in disparate ways in hopes of forging an informed and, above all, orderly citizenry. Even as innumerable journalists were sent to prison on exaggerated and unfair charges of defamation or slander, Díaz’s government subsidized multiple newspapers to expand literacy and to aggrandize the image of the regime.

In Guardians of Discourse Kevin M. Anzzolin analyzes the role and representation of journalism in literary texts from Porfirian Mexico to argue that these writings created a literate, objective, refined, and informed public. By exploring works by Porfirian writers such as Emilio Rabasa, Ángel del Campo, Rafael Delgado, Laura Méndez de Cuenca, and Salvador Quevedo y Zubieta, Anzzolin demonstrates that a primary goal of the lettered class was to define and shape the character of public life, establish the social position of citizens, and interrogate the character of civil institutions.

These elite letrados—whom Anzzolin refers to as “guardians of discourse”—aimed to define the type of discourses that would buttress the transformed Mexico of the Díaz regime to forge a truly national literature that could be discussed among an expanded coterie of lettered thinkers. In addition, these Porfirian guardians hoped to construct an extensive and active public able to debate political and social issues via a press befitting a modern nation-state and create a press that would be independent, illuminating, and distinguished. Through an innovative look at Mexico’s public sphere via literary fiction in the Porfirian era, Anzzolin contributes to our knowledge of Mexican and Latin American political, cultural, and literary history in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Author Bio

Kevin M. Anzzolin is a lecturer of Spanish at Christopher Newport University.


“Kevin Anzzolin’s Guardians of Discourse rereads major literary works from Porfirian Mexico and reframes them in ways that should, if there is justice, change how we talk about them in the future. Anzzolin boldly weaves together the history of journalism and literature to show their interdependence and how they stage struggles for meaning and power in a contested public sphere. The book’s adroit combination of theory, history, and literary studies makes it a laudable contribution to Mexican studies.”—Christopher Conway, author of Nineteenth-Century Spanish America: A Cultural History

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Introduction: Guardians of Discourse
1. Insane Journalism in Novelas mexicanas and Reproducciones
2. Insalubrious Journalism in Pacotillas and La cuarta plana
3. Reporterism as Social Death in La Rumba and La Calandria
4. Yellow Journalism and Female Sociability in the Narrative of Laura Méndez de Cuenca
5. Arnulfo Arroyo, the Subsidized Press, and Illocutionary Acts in Quevedo y Zubieta’s La camada
Epilogue: The Public Sphere, or The Porfiriato’s Unfinished Project