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Everyday Reading
Print Culture and Collective Identity in the Rio de la Plata, 1780-1910

Author(s): William Garrett Acree

Winner of the LASA Southern Cone Studies Section Book Prize in the Humanities, 2013

Starting in the late nineteenth century, the region of South America known as the Rio de la Plata (containing modern-day Uruguay and Argentina) boasted the highest literacy rates in Latin America. In Everyday Reading, William Acree explores the history, events, and culture that gave rise to the region's remarkable progress. With a specific focus on its print culture, in the form of newspapers, political advertisements and documents, schoolbooks, and even stamps and currency, Acree creates a portrait of a literary culture that permeated every aspect of life.

Everyday Reading argues that the introduction of the printing press into the Rio de la Plata in the 1780s hastened the collapse of Spanish imperial control and played a major role in the transition to independence some thirty years later. After independence, print culture nurtured a new identity and helped sustain the region through the tumult of civil war in the mid-1800s. Acree concludes by examining the role of reading in formal education, which had grown exponentially by the early twentieth century as schoolchildren were taught to fulfill traditional roles in society.

Ultimately, Everyday Reading humanizes literary culture, demonstrating its unrecognized and unexpected influence in everyday lives.

Biography of Author(s)

William Garrett Acree Jr. is Assistant Professor of Spanish at Washington University in St. Louis. He is co-editor of Building Nineteenth-Century Latin America.


  • "...a welcome addition to the study of the rioplatense region, providing new insights and possible paths for future scholarship."
    --Latin American Studies
  • "...this is an interesting and important book on a little- studied aspect of the Río de la Plata."
    --Hispanic American Historical Review
  • "When nations become independent, what do their citizens read? In this lively and consistently engaging book, Billy Acree explores the connections among state-building, citizenship, and everyday reading and writing. Highly recommended!"
    --George Reid Andrews, author of Afro-Latin America, 1800-2000
  • "Its brevity, sparkling prose, and well-selected illustrations recommend it for all scholars interested in print, literacy, and education in Argentina and Uruguay."
    --The Journal of Interdisciplinary History
  • "...this book offers an intelligent narrative and compelling analysis of the history of nation and subject formation in Spanish America."
    --American Historical Review
  • "This book makes a solid contribution to the cultural, intellectual, and political history of the Rio de la Plata."
    --Richard W. Slatta, author of Simon Bolivar's Quest for Glory