Professor of Spanish
MLL Department Chair
Faber Hall 551
A.B., Occidental College
M.A., Stanford University
Ph.D., Princeton University
- 20th- and 21st-century Latin American literature
- Latin American film and visual culture
Carl Fischer specializes in modern and contemporary Latin American literature, visual and film studies, queer studies, and cultural studies, with an emphasis on Chile and the Southern Cone. His scholarly research agenda approaches two primary preoccupations: on one hand, the proliferation of authoritarian, racist, and neoliberal discourses seeking to shape bodies, colonize territories, and impose normative and nationalistic ideals; and on the other, the vibrant spread of queer, trans, feminist, indigenous, and otherwise dissident cultures that defy authoritarianism in all its forms.
His written work focuses on how Chilean and Latin American cultures dialogue with, and question, the preconceptions that exist about them in other parts of the world. He is also interested in how the politicized representation of bodies can question the strictures placed on them by binary gender roles, normative narratives of mythic heroism and nationalistic sacrifice, forced reproduction, and necropolitical market and state formations.
His first monograph, Queering the Chilean Way: Cultures of Exceptionalism and Sexual Dissidence, 1965-2015, was published in 2016 with Palgrave MacMillan Press. Queering the Chilean Way examines and critiques Chile’s official claims to economic exceptionalism, by putting forth an artistic, literary, and cinematic archive of queer figures who disrupted authoritarian narratives that narrowly imagined heterosexual men to embody the modelo, a metonym in Chilean Spanish for the country’s “exceptional” economy. The book examines authors and filmmakers such as José Donoso, Miguel Littín, Diamela Eltit, and Pedro Lemebel, to shed light on the sexual, economic, and aesthetic dimensions of Chilean exceptionalism—at its heart, a discourse of exclusion.
The volume Chilean Cinema in the Twenty-First-Century World, which he co-edited with Vania Barraza, was published in 2020 with Wayne State University Press. It collects fourteen articles from US- and Chile-based scholars exploring the choices made by Chilean auteurs to render their films—which often deal with very local domestic issues—intelligible to broader global audiences.
He is co-editing a special issue, forthcoming in Anales de Literatura Chilena, entitled "Representaciones del caso de Colonia Dignidad en la producción cultural chilena reciente," along with María Angélica Franken. The issue collects articles about the growing corpus of cultural production that has recently appeared about Colonia Dignidad, an autarchic, authoritarian enclave populated by Germans in a remote part of southern Chile.
His second book project, Cosmic Racisms: Geopolitics and Fascist Aesthetics in Latin America’s Southern Cone, argues that authoritarianism in Argentina, Chile, and Paraguay hinges upon the aestheticization of peripheral territories as deserted, yet seductive, spaces into which states can expand their sovereignty. This project argues that from the 1870s through the 1980s, proto-fascist or fascist state discourses imagine the Falkland Islands, Patagonia, the Chaco region, the Atacama Desert, Easter Island, and Antarctica as utopian sites onto which they could project discourses of racism, state-sponsored genocide, antisemitism, normative masculinity, colonialism, and paranoid conspiracy theories. It thus examines how authoritarian and anti-authoritarian thinkers—starting with Gabriela Mistral, Leopoldo Lugones, and Natalicio González, who were influenced by José Vasconcelos (author of The Cosmic Race), and then moving on to Augusto Roa Bastos, Jorge Luis Borges, Paz Encina, Roberto Bolaño, Adriana Lestido, and Lola Larra, among others—negotiate those discourses.
He is also a translator, having worked in that capacity for the government of Chile prior to his PhD. Along with Catherine Brix, Michael Lazzara, and Sowmya Ramanathan, he is currently co-translating a series of essays by Diamela Eltit, entitled Diamela Eltit: Essays on Chilean Literature, Politics, and Culture, a forthcoming open-access volume with the Latin American Research Commons (LARC).
- Survey of Latin American Film
- Cultures of Memory and Post-Memory in Contemporary Chile
- Literatures of the Latin American Boom and Post-Boom
- Gender and Sexuality Studies
- Fascist Aesthetics and the Hispanic World
-"Diversity and Dissidences on the Agenda." (Part of special issue, “Apruebo por Chile: Charting a Future in the Aftermath of Defeat,” ed. Joshua Frens-String and Romina Green Rioja.) NACLA - Report on the Americas 54.4 (November 2022): 410-4.
-"Sexual/Textual Migrations: Queer of Color Theory in Chile." https://confluenze.unibo.it/article/view/15322 (Part of special issue, “Fughe del/dal queer in Iberoamerica: estetica, narrativa, immaginazione politica della dissidenza sessogenerica,” ed. Sergio Rodríguez-Blanco and Francisco A. Zurian.) Confluenze: Rivista di Studi Iberoamericani 14.2 (2022): 272-293.
-"Fascism on Ice: Miguel Serrano in Chilean Antarctica.” Revista de Estudios Hispánicos 54.2 (June 2020): 505-32.
-“The International (Un)intelligibility of Chilean Trans* Film.” In Chilean Cinema in the Twenty-First Century World. Ed. Vania Barraza and Carl Fischer. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2020: 245-65.
-“Ese sexo que no es 100011001: Sobre la visibilidad digital/chilena/trans*.” Comunicación y medios 39 (July 2019), 110-22.
-"Animal Suffering and/as Discourse in 1960s Latin American Cinema.” Studies in Spanish & Latin American Cinemas 15.3 (December 2018): 311-329.
-"José Donoso and the Monstrous Masculinities of Chile's Agrarian Reform." Hispanic Review, 83.3 (Summer 2015): 253-273.
-"Lorenza Böttner: From Chilean Exceptionalism to Queer Inclusion." American Quarterly 66.3 (September 2014): 749-765.