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GSSC Seminar Series
28 November 2023


The Garçonne Scandal: France, Argentina, and Queer Transculturation in the Roaring Twenties

Carlos G. Halaburda, University of Cologne


La Garçonne (1922) by the French writer Victor Margueritte (1866-1942) provoked international scandal during the Interwar period (1918-1939) as the novel portrayed a queer romance between two women of the Parisian bourgeoisie, Monique Lerbier and Niquette. The turn-of-the-century Naturalist novel à la Émile Zola associated female homosexuality with plebeian groups and sex work. Erotic relationships between high-society women had rarely been a novelistic topic in the fin de siècle, for which Margueritte endured repudiation from French literary circles. In the Southern Cone, with the Spanish translation and extraordinary success of La Garçonne [La machona], queer forms of masculine embodiment and same-sex desire became thematic trends in numerous literary, musical, and visual works. This presentation will discuss how tango songs, plays, novels, illustrations, and magazine articles addressed the garçonne scandal, generating a crucial debate about the stability and instability of conventional gender and sexual protocols in 1920s Buenos Aires. By engaging with a series of texts by Horacio Quiroga, Abraham Valdelomar, Isaac Morales, Luis Cané, and Osvaldo Sosa Cordero, I explore how la machona became a counter-cultural identity that disputed gender binarism and early-twentieth-century notions of womanhood, decorum, femininity, and masculinity, turning into an essential chapter in South American LGBTIQ history.



Dr. Carlos Gustavo Halaburda (PhD Northwestern University 2021) is a Marie Skłodowska Curie Research Fellow with the Department of Romance Studies at the Universität zu Köln and associate fellow with the Erich Auerbach Institute for Advanced Studies. His work has appeared in journals and print houses such as Latin American Theater Review, Revista Canadiense de Estudios Hispánicos, Taller de Letras, Symposium, Universidad Nacional de la Plata, 17 Instituto de Estudios Críticos, Palgrave Macmillan, and Himpar Colombia, among others. In 2022, he received two awards for his article “Lunfardos: Queerness, Social Prophylaxis and the Futures of Reproduction in Fin-de-Siècle Argentine Dramaturgy”: the LASA Carlos Monsiváis Best Article of the Sexualities Section and the Canadian Hispanic Association Essay Prize. He was formerly a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Spanish and Portuguese of the University of Toronto. His book-length study about queerness and disability in turn-of-the-century Argentine print culture is in preparation.