Date of Award

Winter 12-15-2021

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department

Romance Languages and Literature: Hispanic Studies

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



In this dissertation, I focus on popular ludic and cultural practices that shaped the urban spaces of Uruguay and Argentina at the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth. I argue that by inhabiting the public sphere in close dialogue with modernization and urbanization, popular entertainment became a main protagonist within everyday life. Cultural practices such as carnival, theater, soccer, radio, and cinema, presented intersections between each other. These intersections generated what I term the ludic urban sphere, to underscore not just the overwhelming presence of play and entertainment as central elements in the urban landscape, but their unexpected ability to transform the very meaning of public life. I demonstrate that the reciprocal influence of cultural practices and urbanization that is at the center of the entertainment scene, fostered the existence of such ludic sphere. Chapter one analyzes carnival, which was one of the largest public celebrations in the region, while chapter two focuses on the sainete criollo, a popular theatre genre that incorporated social content through dialogues with urbanization and modernization. Chapter three considers soccer and its relation to urbanization and the shaping of Montevideo and Buenos Aires. Finally, the last chapter explores the role that radio and cinema played within this vision of the ludic sphere that I have articulated. My project takes part in the ongoing dialogue between cultural studies, performance studies, and urban studies. By transcending national and disciplinary boundaries, it contributes to the expansion of the field of Latin American Studies. Through the incorporation of popular entertainment to the path of urban humanities research, I hone in on the intersectionality between popular culture and the urban space.


Spanish (es)

Chair and Committee

William G. Acree

Committee Members

James A. Brown