From Page to Screen: Doña Bárbara in Latin American Popular Culture

Research output: Book/ReportBook


In his essay, ‘La pura mujer sobre la tierra’ (1949), Gallegos emphasizes that the legendary protagonist of his eponymous novel Doña Bárbara (1929) is based entirely on a female cacique, whose story he became familiar with during a mid-1920s research trip to the Venezuelan plains. Gallegos claims that the only attribute he added of his own account when constructing the figure of ‘the mistress of the plains’ was enthralling beauty. Yet it is specifically the glamorized image and sensual aura of Doña Bárbara that has captured the collective imagination and lives on in the numerous film and telenovela adaptations of Gallegos’s original story, which have both commodified the literary figure and made her more accessible to the wider public. By translating the story of Doña Bárbara into the language of popular culture, the various screen adaptations have aided the consumption and dissemination of complex socio-political ideas that transcend national and historical boundaries.
My monograph explores the reasons why the national concerns of early twentieth-century Venezuela speak to Latin American audiences generally, transcending time and place. Throughout the monograph I examine particularly the significance behind the time and place at which each of these versions was produced and, especially, the ways in which individual versions have successfully crossed national boundaries within Latin America. Analyzing the film and telenovela versions through the prism of theories of screen adaptation, gender, and Latinidad, I explore the ways in which these recent adaptations have altered the original story in accordance to changes in socio-political contexts and audience expectations. Yet I do not base my conclusions simply on close readings of key scenes, but I further investigate the continuing success of Doña Bárbara’s story by examining audience and fan responses to the adaptations. In fact, aside from being the first comparative study of different Doña Bárbara adaptations, by focusing on Spanish-language primary sources, my monograph makes an original and highly valuable contribution to the predominantly Anglophone scholarship on fandom/audience studies and screen adaptations.

Original languageEnglish
PublisherUniversity of Wales Press
Number of pages220
Publication statusSubmitted - 2017


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