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Fall 2019

SPAN 597 (F 8:00-11:00)

Spanish Romanticism: Theory, Philosophy, Aesthetics.  
Nicolás Fernández-Medina
This course will examine a range of issues in Spanish Romantic Studies, including the concept of self and individuality, the idealization of the feminine, the celebration of nature and the natural supernatural, and the metaphysics of beauty and the sublime. 


SPAN 572 (W 6:00-9:00)

Translation in the Americas.  
Krista Brune 
This course provides a broad exploration of translation in the Americas. In particular, it investigates the politics, practices, and theories of translation in Latin America and the United States from the late nineteenth century to the early twenty-first century, which allows for a comparative mode of reading across and between borders of language, nation, and region. The following questions will guide our readings and discussions over the course of the semester: How does translation unfold as a metaphor, a linguistic act, and a cultural experience in the Americas? To what extent do processes of translation inform the exchanges of languages, peoples, and cultures within and between nations in this region? The class examines the role of canonical Latin American writers as translators and scholars in order to underscore the centrality of translation to the production, circulation, and reception of Latin American literature. The course analyzes the contributions of Latin American writers, including José Martí, Brazilian modernists, Jorge Luis Borges, concrete poets Augusto and Haroldo de Campos, Octavio Paz, and Julio Cortázar, to discussions of translation by reading their works on translation as theory and practice alongside key essays in translation studies by, among others, Walter Benjamin, Jacques Derrida, Gayatri Spivak, Lawrence Venuti, and Emily Apter. It also considers the importance of translators like Gregory Rabassa, Suzanne Jill Levine, and Elizabeth Bishop in disseminating Latin American literature within the United States. Building on these insights, students will consider the recent phenomenon of Latin American literature in translation and re-translation to recognize translation as a linguistic and aesthetic challenge governed by, in part, the political and economic demands of the global, literary market. 


SPAN 597 (TR 9:05-10:20)

Interreligious Cultural Exchange and Hermetic Sciences in Medieval Spain.  
Juan Udaondo Alegre
In the Middle Ages, the Iberian Peninsula was a crossroads of cultural and religious traditions where Muslims, Christians, and Jews interacted, disputed, and prospered together for centuries. Talking about the cultural achievements of that period, María Rosa Menocal affirmed in The Ornament of the World that: “Books, like buildings, like works of art, like songs and sometimes even like the languages of prayers, often tell stories about the complexities of tolerance and cultural identity, complexities that ideological purists deny, both as an immediate reality and as a future possibility.” In this seminar we will unravel part of those complexities by exploring the circumstances in which books of the kind described by Menocal were brought to Iberia from the other side of the Mediterranean, exchanged, translated, and finally recreated in different languages. We will approach the motifs and productions of both independent sages and those who worked under the patronage of powerful leaders such as the Umayyad Caliphs of al-Andalus or King Alfonso “the Wise” of Castile. Through a variety of readings, we will ascertain that one of the main goals of those translators and thinkers was to recover the so called Hermetic sciences: Magic, Astrology, and Alchemy, attributed from ancient times to Hermes Trismegistus. We will discuss how the search for Hermes’s legacy fostered both the translation movement and a culture of tolerance, in which erudite seekers were able to forget mutual prejudices and question their own identities to pursue secret knowledge. We will also explain how the cultural exchange which took place in the kingdoms and territories which are now Spain generated curiosity across their borders,  deeply influencing  the culture of Europe in the Late Middle Ages and beyond. This course will be conducted in English.


Spring 2019

SPAN 597 (M 6:00-9:00)

History, Time, and the Contemporary Latin American Stage
Sarah Townsend
This course will focus primarily on Latin American theater and performance from the past two decades while also taking specific plays and performances as an entry point for examining longer patterns and practices. Throughout the semester, we will reflect on the following questions: What exactly is the “contemporary”? When does it begin and end? What is its relationship to the past and future? Many theories of performance emphasize its “liveness”—the fact that it takes place in a specific here and now (or there and then)? But if this is so, how does theater represent history, and why does the stage seem to be such a haunted place? What happens when other media (such as film projections or digital media) are integrated into live performance? Could it be that the theater is a particularly apt space for understanding how multiple temporalities can coexist and act upon one another? We will special attention to the insights Latin American theater and performance can offer into these issues, given the fact that the region (and its theater) has historically been imagined as underdeveloped or “backward” in relation to other parts of the world such as the United States and Europe. 

Playwrights and theater groups we will likely study include Mariano Pensotti (Argentina); Lola Arias (Argentina); Lagartijas Tiradas al Sol (Mexico); Teatro de Ciertos Habitantes (Mexico); Mapa Teatro (Colombia); Ói Nóis Aqui Traveiz (Brazil); and Teatro Oficina (Brazil). Theorists and critics include Rebecca Schneider, Diana Taylor, Peggy Phelan, Richard Schechner, Fred Moten, and Nicholas Ridout.

SPAN 597 (T 6:00-9:00) 

Caribbean Imaginations of Sovereignty, Community, and Vulnerability 
Judith Sierra-Rivera 
A geography inscribed by a history of (neo)colonialism, the Caribbean Antilles have produced stories and theories that talk about sovereignty. “Sovereignty,” a concept that takes us beyond and through struggles for independence, acquires different names across the Hispanic, Anglo, French, and Dutch Caribbean. In all of its different versions, sovereignty seems to be attached to two other concepts: “community” and “vulnerability.” In this seminar, we will study how the combination of these three words reveals a particular set of political imaginations that propose a way of living not only for the Caribbean archipelago but also for a world in which life (bios) appears to be in a permanent vulnerable/dependent state. Some of the questions that will initiate our discussions include: What are the meanings that Caribbean (neo)colonial history has attached to “being sovereign”? How do Caribbean stories and theories propose and interpret the relationship between sovereignty, community, and vulnerability? Which of them have acquired notoriety in other literary/philosophical traditions? How are they consumed and used in dialogue with other geographies? Among others, we will engage with writings by Toussaint Louverture, Simón Bolívar, José Martí, Luisa Capetillo, Marcus Garvey, Aimé Césaire, Frantz Fanon, Frank Martinus Arion, Derek Walcott, and Édouard Glissant. Most of the texts have been translated into English, but a reading level of Spanish and French is recommended for this seminar.

SPAN 597 (TR 3:05-4:20)

The imperial Lyric in Habsburg Spain 
Mary Barnard 
Antonio de Nebrija remarked famously in his Gramática de la lengua castellana (1492) that “language has always been the companion of empire.” This course deals with poetry that is indeed the fitting companion of empire, informed as it is by the profound political and cultural transformations that began in large part with the imperial agendas of Habsburg emperor Charles V. It will explore how the construction of texts and new personal and political identities was highly conditioned by the crossing of boundaries:  the crossings into Italy (with its abundance of literary, artistic, and scientific production), trans-Mediterranean crossings to North Africa, and transatlantic crossings into the New World. Of particular importance is how the poetics of empire coexists with a poetics of love and solitude. A study of the nature of the new subject; the relation of rhetoric and modernity; memory and exile; the dynamics of vision; classical mythology; and Petrarchism will be particularly useful in the deciphering of the imperial lyric. Works of arts--paintings, portraits, heraldic and commemorative tapestries, and sculptures--will figure prominently in the exploration of the celebration and critique of the politics and ideology of empire.