Lecture - 3 hours; Film Viewing - 3 hours. Using a thematic approach, this course provides and introduction to contemporary Latin American literature through the close reading of major writers of the 20th and 21st centuries. Analyses of short stories, novels, poems, music, and films will open debates on important issues like the construction of identities, the writing of history and memory, colonialism, the effects of exile and migration, and the ever-renewed struggle between civilization and barbarism. As we read, our goal will be to discover how literature speaks in its own way about history, politics, identity, and culture.
Lecture—3 hours; term paper or discussion—1 hour. An electronic copy in MS Word 6. After publication, authors receive three complimentary copies of the issue in which their work appears. Page numbering is important, please include.
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All rights reserved. Una charla con Michael Schuessler. De oca a oca covers the late Franco era and the first 25 years of democracy. Cerezales converts the children's game "De oca a oca y juego porque me toca," a children's board game in which players throw dice and then advance a token, into a metaphor for the way in which memories of past events occur to a person somewhat haphazardly governed by a throw of the dice as they reconstruct the past that has brought them to their present situation.
Each protagonist's memories are prompted by an uncanny muse-provocateur. Significantly, Cerezales changes the gender of the muse from a man C. The man in black produces colored pills that enhance memory, and Amadora is clairvoyant. She aided families in findmg loved ones who were missing during the Civil War.
Because her supernatural powers were viewed with suspicion by the Francoist authorities, she had to leave Spain for a time. While there are many similarities between Cerezales's female memory novel and others of the genre. XXXIII Bildungsroman in an internationalized, globalized Spain that still maintains pockets of deeply rooted traditionalism in gender relations and local customs. Earlier female Bildimgsromane focused more on the traditional restraints on women's lives and the impossibility of complete liberation. John Kronik notes, for example, that Nada, proj- ects the claustrophobic atmosphere of the early Franco years in which Spain was essentially closed off from the rest of the world and even its own recent past the Republic and the Spanish Civil War.
Kronik observes that the word "sofocante" "aparece con tanta frecuencia en Nada que se convierte en el leitmotiv principal de la novela" The ending of Nada in which the protagonist sets off for Madrid with her friend Ena's father to take a job in his com- pany and continue her university studies in the capital has occasioned debate over whether or not the novel provides a feminist solution to a young woman's search for an independem identity. The feminist message of Cerezales's novel is much more forthright. Even though many of the patriarchal constraints that circumscribed Andrea's life in have not entirely disappeared in the late s,' the end of the novel suggests the possibility for reconciliation between past social forms and a modern woman's needs.
Most of the novel's characters and the novel's ending represent a coming together, an integration of traditionally opposed elements. Los obreros se encogen de hombros. Ellos hacen lo que pueden. Expalar metros de nieve con una simple pala de allanar gravilla.
Like most of these literary "foremothers" Cereza- les gives motherhood a central place in a woman's Ufe by featuring regional customs relating to family Ufe that are an integral part of the protagonist's struggle to find a niche for herself. XXXIII motherhood in La gaviota are punishments for a woman's following her disinclination to observe the proprieties society expects. At the end of the novel and in its sequei La madre naturaleza, patriar- chy remains intact and provincial male barbarism has not been tamed by civilized female influence.
Martin Gaite's Las ataduras, which has uncanny similarities to Cerezales's plot and setting, compares the life of a young woman in her native Galician village to her adult life in Paris where she lives with her artist-husband and two children. The women, however, assert a subversive power through a shared sense of community, their at times nearly magicai intuition, and their narrative arts.
Justa's situation within the traditional patriarchy is exacerbated by her relationship with her mother Aurelia, which is strained for reasons directly relating to her gender. Aurelia bore a male child out of wedlock to a man whom she loved passionately, but he abandoned her pregnant. Raimundo, the child Aurelia bore as a single woman, was mute and possessed seemingly supernatural powers with plants and animais. When Raimundo died at age 10, the mother was devastated. Justa suffered from her mother's inattention when she was a young girl, and her childhood situation has deprived Justa of a sense of authentic being.
Her memoir is an attempt to estab- lish her identity as an artist and independem woman; the "ocas" on the journey to self-recognition and self-fulfiliment include many fond reminiscences of Bernal, the schoolteacher's son whose friendship partially fiUed the void left by her indifferent mother. When Justa returned to her Aneares village, she found life there unbearable without Bernal, and she decided to marry the sailor Ignacio, who, for the moment replaced Bernal in her need for a close relation- ship left vacant by her mother.
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In addition, Ignacio at the time seemed capable of appreciating Justa as an accomplished professional, non-tra- ditional woman. When Bernal returned and found Justa betrothed, he was so distraught that he immigrated permanently to California where he married and had a family. Justa herself has two sons, Matias and Lucas, the first of who takes his father's side in the tensions between Justa and Ignacio in an attempt to emulate his father, Matias embarks on a sailor's career, against his natural inclinations. The second son Lucas is fond of his mother, but finally accepts his father's dictum to attend boarding school in another town, in part to escape from the conflictive household created by his incompatible parents.
As I indicated, Cerezales's emphasis on mother-child relations is a significant new aspect of the female Bildungsroman initiated by Carmen Laforet in the mid-twentieth century. Even though biological mothers figure prominently in De oca a oca, there are also surrogate parents in the novel.
When Justa was a child, she spent a great deal of time with her grandfather, the local miller whose mili she inherited and which provides her current home with Ignacio and her sons. The mili, even though it no longer functions as such, suggests the rural Spain of ages past, as many of the characters recall the days in which they came to the mili with their grain. The mili served as a focal point for local encounters and storytelling, a situation Justa reenacts on her fortieth birthday by inviting neighbors to her mili home to tell stories by the fire over a traditional meal.
A visit to her ethereal, clairvoyant madrina at the beginning of De oca a oca to consuh her about her impulse to leave Olmeda prompts the chain of memories that constitutes the novel. This memory causes Justa to lose "todo contacto con el presente" Flora sigue hilando sus historias. Justa posa la mirada en la pared de la cocina, negra y desconchada.
The sound of young farm workers singing a traditional song as they return from the day's labor in the fields, filtering into the cantina while Justa listens to Flora's story, reinforces the ritual, unchanging nature of life in Aneares. Memories of these stories, transformed in Justa's imagination into Goyesque visions "la los hombres] les crecen cuernos y patas de cabra, como los del cuadro del libro del abuelo, y la mujeres se deshacen en el humo cuando las suben para arriba , culminate in a night's drawing spree that precipitates her break with Ignacio.
Caught up in the magic, ritualistic moment, Justa smears her face with ashes. At this point Ignacio enters and rips the drawing in half, while their younger son Lucas looks on. Ignacio is incapable of understanding what he considers Justa 's insane behavior and decides to send Lucas, who tells his mother that it is the best drawing she has ever made, to boarding school to save him from his mother's "locura. Ignacio associates art with homosexuality, and when Lucas showed interest in doing art with his mother, he forced him to play sports with other boys instead. Llegaban visitantes de todas partes y se quedaban largas temporadas" Ignacio, of course, cannot abide Felipe and his partner Erik , whom he calis "ese par de maricas" Ignacio likewise distrusts strong women and blames Justa's "aquelarre" on her visit to Amadora, suggesting the patriarchal male's fear of women's supernatural powers.
The community of women in Olmeda forms an important source of support for each of them.
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Women frequently gather to tell each other their stories narration as a form of salvation is an important leitmotif in De oca a oca and they band together whenever one of them is threatened. When Justa was an adolescent, Antonia initiated her into the importance of female solidarity. While they attend to her, she tells them that she has feared she would miscarry because her husband beats her.
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Existe una fuerza entre las mujeres para defenderse del hombre cuando abusa" Justa's rites of initiation also include a vicarious encounter with sex that marks an early first step towards separation from the patri- archal world of the village's men. Years later Antonia tells her side of the story. She and the grandfather, for whom she worked in the mili, entered into an affair when the grandfather was distressed over being barred from joining the Republican army during the Civil War.
In addition, he was angry that his beloved sister Amadora had to leave Spain for France when rumors began circulat- ing that she had supernatural powers. When Antonia married and had children, the grandfather stopped "visiting" her. During her many years in prison, her children and all she owned were taken from her. On Justa 's fifteenth birthday, another event in the woods marked a further passage towards maturity, probably announcing the onset of menstruation and her entrance into sexual womanhood.
Justa's delayed maturity can be interpreted as that of many Spanish women who suffered the repression of growing up during the Franco era. The community spirit that sustains the village women as they confront ancient patriarchal traditions does not always adhere in relations between mothers and children of either sex, and these ten- sions between generations lead to personal growth and change within the static traditional society.
The rift between Justa and her mother Aurelia is recreated in Justa's own mothering of her sons.
The boy, in turn and like Justa herself, began a quest for meaningful connections, and at the end of the novel reconciles with his mother after several lonely years as a seaman. Justa also reconciles with her mother Aurelia on the eve of her departure for California. Cerezales's approach to mother-child relations brings to mind Nancy Chodorow's seminal study of the phenomenon in The Reproduction of Motherhood.
XXXIH 11 approach, pinpoints the reenactment of the mothering urge in a girl's close and unbroken connection to her own mother. Chodorow asserts that boys are socialized to break their early bond with the mother, while girls experience no such rupture.
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According to Chodorow, the continuous bond between mothers and daughters creates the desire in daughters to reproduce that bond with their own children. Cerezales's novelistic exploration of the mother-daughter and mother-son relationships questions any such universal bonding mechanism. The situation in which she places her protagonist indi- cates that there is much more involved in mothering than universal psychoanalytic paradigms. Mothering is complicated by many factors other than a woman's bond to her own mother.
One cannot ignore the social norms of the society in which the mothering takes place in De oca a oca Francoist and post-Francoist Spain in a tradition- alist Aneares.
Also important to mothering are the relationship of the mother to the father of the child and the mother's extra-familial interests, such as her professional goals. Carmen Laforet's and many other Franco-era youthful protagonists achieved their identities out- side of marriage and mothering. The representation of girls who have not experienced motherhood and may not even marry was a neces- sary stage in portraying more independem women during the Franco period when women's roles were officially limited to wife and mother.
Cerezales's Justa, on the other hand, brings motherhood and family ties back to the center of a woman's concept of herself. When the State no longer legislates such a narrow view of female existence, her identity as an independem individual can include motherhood as well as extra-familial interests.
Local people live in close harmony with the natural world the villages are surrounded by woods and the pallozas are divided in two parts, one for people and the other for livestock. Aside from the above- mentioned deer, birds are a constant symbolic presence. For example. Like the geese Justa keeps at her mili, she is enclosed in a kind of gallinero at the beginning of the novel. Veinticuatro horas sometido a la disciplina de un colegio.
As the novel progresses, the domesticated geese kept in the chicken coop are replaced by wild geese.
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