The Media as an Image Maker/Breaker: The Case of Tina Modotti and Its Literary Representation


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Virginia Tech


This thesis examines the role the media played in shaping Tina Modotti's public image during the 1920s in Mexico and the representation of this image in the novel Tinísima by Elena Poniatowska. In Chapter I, the present study tackles also the issues behind the press attitude in relation to the Mexican political situation and the communist influence during the 1920s.

Chapter II provides a review of the existing literature on Modotti's life and her involvement in the Mexican Communist Party. It also includes a brief summary of the Mexican Communist Party's origins and development, since the political environment affected the approach of the press upon Modotti.

Chapter III focuses on social research through content analysis of press articles about Tina Modotti, which were published by the Mexican newspaper Excélsior in January 1929. The purpose is to analyze the language employed in these accounts in order to uncover a possible bias behavior on the part of the press when covering Modotti's case.

Chapter IV deals with the analysis of Poniatowska's novel Tinísima through a postmodern perspective. The connecting theme between this and the former chapter is based on the insertion of articles from Excélsior that function as latent and manifest intertexts in the novel. The objective is to study these insertions in order to interpret Modotti's public and private images within this literary framework. Postmodernism is a pertinent theory since it examines the transgressions of widely accepted views to uncover or demystify reality.

Finally, the conclusion in Chapter V links the use of the media as an image breaker to the Mexican social and political context in the 1920s, and suggests political reasons behind Modotti's mistreatment by the press. In addition, the literary representation of Modotti in Tinísima and the analysis through postmodernism provides strong support to this conclusion and points at the role of this novel as an image maker.



Mexico, content analysis, postmodernism