Research Colloquium Series
These meetings are designed to bring together scholars from different areas of specialization and/or disciplines in order to introduce their current work. The goal is to develop an academic exchange about their on-going research projects, and to promote discussion in a critical and collegial environment.
Fall Semester 2018
THE CONDOR FLIES OVER THE HIMALAYAS: MAGICAL REALISM IN TIBET
Modern Tibetan literature started in the late 1970s, when China was opening up to the West after the death of Mao Zedong. One of the first literary styles modern Tibetan writers experimented with was magical realism, which helped them negotiate censorship in China, explore their own contested ethnic identity, and become “citizens of the world.” Ethnically and culturally hybrid Tibetan writers found in magical realism the means to portray their own hybridity, and an ideologically complex Tibetan reality. However, even Tibetan writers in China who consider themselves “true Tibetans” nowadays use this style. I explore the reasons why magical realism emerged and thrived in the ever-changing socio-political landscape of modern Tibet.
Patricia Schiaffini-Vedani, Lecturer
AN ETHNIC PETTING ZOO
Since 1989 Habsburg Galicia has fueled renewed interest among scholars of nationalism, ethnicity, and colonialism. To probe imperial Austria’s openness to inspirations from the tributary culture of Ruthenia (now Ukraine), I reviewed the 1890-1910 Viennese print media for coverage of Ukrainian intellectual production. To my disappointment, Vienna’s interest in Eastern Galicia fell quite short of a mutual intellectual exchange, favoring folklore and readily comprehensible literature that presented social issues of the destitute province. Both these cultural expressions align well with the colonial habit of exoticizing the other and the need to justify the colonial rule as a civilizing mission.
Ewa Siwak, Senior Lecturer
WEST GERMAN GENRE CINEMA IN THE “LONG 1968“
This presentation explores the relationship between politics and genre filmmaking in West Germany between 1967 and 1973. While most scholarship focuses on the directors who later became associated with the New German Cinema—the internationally renowned art cinema movement in the 1970s and early 1980s—my project examines lesser-known genre films that were deemed unworthy of critical attention. These works represent the global anti-authoritarian revolt in and around 1968 beyond its explicitly (left) political dimensions, and reveal the mutual interdependence of pop culture and politics at the time. Challenging the old antinomies of the “popular” and the “political,” they prompt us to expand our understanding of the West German "1968."
Lisa Haegele, Assistant Professor
Spring Semester 2017
TRANSPARENT, FLUENT, READABLE: INGEBORG BACHMANN’S PROSE IN ENGLISH
This presentation examines the English translations of Ingeborg Bachmann’s prose from the early 1980s through the early 2000s. My research draws on Bachmann scholarship, translation studies, and personal interviews with American translators of Bachmann. My analysis identifies parallels between the rewriting Bachmann’s prose undergoes in translation and the shifts in US views on Austrian and feminist literature since the 1980s. I show that (1) US translators view Bachmann’s Austrianness and her feminist proposition as mutually exclusive; (2) the translators struggle with Bachmann’s ideologically charged intertextual irony because it is incompatible with their notion of Bachmann as a modernist poet.
Ewa Siwak, Senior Lecturer
ON FOOT IN THE LONG EIGHTEENTH CENTURY
The experience of walking as a way to encounter the world dramatically changed over the course of the long eighteenth century. Deriving from the pastime of “promenade,” a practice that found its most ritualized installment in Louis XIV’s court, this primarily aesthetic occupation turns into an experiential activity when it looses its affinity with the spectacle and shifts its focus from the public as constitutive of the “promenade” to the body and its senses as integral to the experience of movement and apperception. The “promenade” is externally determined by the presence of a public and reflects taste as it varied with time, while walking, bypassing the socio-aesthetic dimension, would turn one’s gaze inwards and allow for the inner self to apprehend its environment outright.
Carole Martin, Professor
COLD WAR FILE STORIES: ASPECTS OF HERTA MÜLLER’S FILE STORY
Files have the potential of generating tangled life stories that still need to be unearthed. Researchers are confronted with fragmented, often embellished, other times conflicting accounts of life stories collated between two grayish covers of secret police files that I call “file stories.” The file itself becomes the focus of the analysis in the context of life writing, viewed through the eyes of the Securitate (communist Romania’s secret police) and its network of informers, and strewn over many volumes and hundreds of pages. The precarious and capricious collages obtained offer compelling file stories, as is the case of the Nobel laureate Herta Müller, whose work focuses almost exclusively on Ceausescu’s Romania.
Valentina Glajar, Professor
Fall Semester 2017
LATIN AMERICAN POETIC MOVEMENTS IN THE POETRY OF ELENA GARRO
Elena Garro’s lyric work was discovered and published posthumously. This research analyzes her poetry gathered and published in Elena en la Intimidad (2009) and in Cristales de Tiempo: poesías inéditas (2016). Three Latin American poetic movements were identified in her poetry: surrealismo, realismo socialista and anti poesía. This suggests that her poetry must have been originally written between 1940 and 1980. This is an effort to reinsert her lyric work to the history of Latin American women writers of the 20th century
Susana Villanueva-Eguia-Lis, Lecturer
HORACIO QUIROGA AND THE NECROGRAPHICAL ILLUSION
Horacio Quiroga’s readers are often inclined to link the deaths plaguing his fiction with the tragedies that haunted his life. Borrowing from Pierre Bourdieu’s critique of biography as a genre marked by the illusion of progress, this essay examines the problematic relationship between life and fiction in Quiroga’s reception. Rather than Bourdieu’s “biographical illusion,” a necrographical one has permeated highbrow cultural expressions––biographies and academic articles––as well as more popular forms dealing with the Uruguayan author. By analyzing three films made for television in the last 30 years––Horacio Quiroga: entre personas y personaje (1987), Historia Clínica: Horacio Quiroga: “La muerte lo eligió a él, él eligió cuándo” (2012) and Horacio Quiroga, el desterrado (2014)––I show how they reproduce a reading practice centered on turning death into the only framework capable of making sense of his life and work.
Carlos Abreu Mendoza, Assistant Professor
PORTRAITS AND SELF-FASHIONING IN EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY SPAIN
Portraits of the Spanish writer and reformer the Marquesa de Fuerte-Híjar (1761-1821) and her two husbands, read in the context of her life and work, reveal the negotiation of private and public roles by families and individuals. Her portrait portrays her as a young, orphaned heiress, a small jewel involved in a traditional domestic, marital exchange, while her husbands’ portraits foreground their professional identities. Fuerte-Híjar describes in a will a miniature portrait of herself inlaid on a mother-of-pearl box that she bequeaths to her deceased husband’s friend. This ekphrastic portrait reveals her deliberate self-fashioning within the intimacy of domestic love and close friendship that she enjoyed in late-Enlightenment Spain.
Cathy Jaffe, Professor
Spring Semester 2015
MEDIATING MATERIALITY: DEMAND, DESIRE AND THE COMMON GOOD
My project considers descriptions of and reactions to wealth creation, materiality and consumerism in Spanish-American literary production during the late nineteenth to mid twentieth centuries. The nexus between these economic realities and the texts reveals cultural responses that help to understand both the form these economic realities have taken in Spanish America, and the distinctive Spanish American “accommodations” used to understand, accept, or explain them. The topic stems from my earlier research into archaeological discovery and literature, and about how literature can be used to enrich curricula in language for specific purposes (LSP) and how certain LSP topics can inform literary research.
Margaret Dunaway, Senior Lecturer
MESSIANIC VISIONS FROM THE CHIMBORAZO: AN ANDEAN POETICS OF BOLIVARIANISMO
For devotees of Simón Bolívar, My Delirium on Chimborazo constitutes the revelation of both individual and national truth as it takes place on the heights of the Andes; the Chimborazo appears as a physical and allegorical space that allows Bolívar to feel the sublimity of his reason. However, doubts concerning the authenticity of the text arouse the skepticism of historians that threatens Bolívar’s messianism. The text thus fluctuates between canonical and apocryphal, and this discursive liminality turns it into a divinely inspired message. Taking into account the religious discourse surrounding My Delirium, my presentation analyzes textual readings and visual representations that together consolidate an image of Bolívar as both messianic leader and producer of sacred texts.
Carlos Abreu Mendoza, Assistant Professor
REAL OR ARTIFICIAL LINGUISTIC BORDERS: MOZARABS AND MUDEJARS
Borders are misleading as they suggest that the peoples on either side of the border were homogeneous when, in fact, there was a great amount of variety and they were not united under one flag, political structure, or identity. Those working on Medieval Spain know that despite a red line on a map each region’s history is often treated individually, almost as if it were an island whose circumstances are so unique that they cannot be compared to any other. Medieval Iberian languages are often treated in a similar manner. They have come to be known as belonging to particular peoples, such as Mozarabic–only being used by Mozarabs. Language, however, is not bound by geo-political borders, nor is it bound necessarily by identity. The question becomes then, how do we break down these political and constructed borders to unfold how languages were used across communities rather than within a particular one?
Yasmine Beale-Rivaya, Associate Professor
Fall Semester 2015
LOST CINEMATIC CHILDHOODS IN BUENOS AIRES: THE TEARS OF MY MOTHER (2008) AND THE DAY I WAS NOT BORN (2010)
Georg Simmel defines a stranger as a person who “comes today and stays tomorrow.” Strangers are not confined by customs or traditions; they are free agents in praxis and in theory. Due to a special point of view, they are able to examine the social conditions with less prejudice, and they are more objective than local residents. Simmel’s description suits Maria, the young German protagonist who visits Buenos Aires in Florian Cossen’s film The Day I was not Born. Suffice it to say, not everyone shares Simmel’s rather positive definition of the stranger’s plight. As I will argue, the plight of the non-conformist émigré suits Carlos, the father of the protagonist in Alejandro Cardenas Amelio’s The Tears of my Mother.
Ulrich Bach, Associate Professor
TYPOLOGICAL AND DIACHRONIC ANALYSIS OF TIME MISMATCH
Subordinate clauses with future time reference often feature verb forms that are not morphologically encoded as future. I examine patterns of morphological encoding in Romance and Greek subordinate clauses with future time reference, including IF-clauses, WHEN-clauses, and UNLESS-clauses. This analysis requires the examination of interactions among tense, aspect, and mood, which reveals a degree of arbitrary patterning that results in part from distinct diachronic changes in the different languages. For example, the contrast between Spanish and Portuguese in the use of Present Subjunctive and the Future Subjunctive in IF- and WHEN-clauses reflects the loss of the Future Subjunctive in normal Spanish usage, but this loss does not explain the contrast between IF- and UNLESS-clauses, despite the tendency to view UNLESS-clauses as equivalents of IF…NOT-clauses. This typological and diachronic analysis contributes to a greater understanding of the kinds of morphological mismatch that some languages show in such clauses.
Matthew L. Juge, Associate Professor
A NEW LOOK FOR OPHELIA IN THE CULTURAL PRODUCTION OF SPAIN
Since the 1970s Ophelia is enjoying a remarkable resurgence in literature, drama and the visual arts. Feminist critics, most notably Elaine Showalter, placed Ophelia at the center of a discussion of gender, and this focus is the principal impetus of her revival. As the historical embodiment of demeaning patriarchal constructs, Ophelia hardly seems appealing to feminists and post-feminists, but turn-of-the-millennium writers and artist of Spain dust off Ophelia precisely because her debilitating entrapment is an invitation to change her look and cast her in new roles. The ideology of old myths may tarnish but their value as cultural currency remains vibrant in the collective imagination.
Sharon Ugalde, Professor
Spring Semester 2014
LEARNER AUTONOMY AND SELF-ACCESS-CENTERS
SLL (Second Language Learner) Autonomy is an SLA (Second Language Acquisition) concept that I researched at UT when I was doing my Foreign Language Education Master's in 2012. Learner autonomy is generally regarded as the ability to take charge of one's own learning. In my first year as a French lecturer at Texas State University, I have been experimenting with my students on how to foster SLL autonomy through extra credit activities. I would like to expand on this success and start a SAC (Self-Access Center). This SAC would benefit all language students and the department as a whole.
Florence Lemoine, Lecturer
INCEST AND SOVEREIGNTY IN LITERATURE
This presentation will discuss the notion that incest seems to be the Sovereign’s constant prerogative throughout history. This idea was suggested by the collusion of two theoretical lines of thought: Derrida’s erasure between nature and culture represented by incest, and Agamben’s concept of homo sacer. Both the Sovereign and the criminal share a double aporetic status as homines sacri, which is also a condition of incest itself. The exception that characterizes this figure places him outside and inside Law and nature at the same time. La vida es sueño (Life is a Dream), a 17th century Spanish play by Calderón, will be used as an example of how incest is appropriated by the homo sacer as a sign or stigmata of his own state of exception.
Luis Alfredo Intersimone, Assistant Professor
REMEDIAL LIFE STORIES: “SUSANNE FINK”
While scholars agree that victim files are a form of biography, few have addressed the informant files in the context of life writing. By introducing the term “remedial life writing,” this presentation will focus on German-Romanian informants, especially on the compelling story of Marianne Siegmund. Under the code name “Susanne Fink,” she was instrumental in providing (mis)information to the Romanian Secret Police on German-Romanians involved in the “Black Church Trial” of 1958. What emerges from Siegmund’s file is a compelling narrative that is at once a love story, a Briefroman, a detective and spy story, a story about a dysfunctional family, a love triangle, seduction, sex, and betrayal behind the Iron Curtain. It is also a revealing document about the tactics of the Securitate, its strategies for recruiting West German spies, its well-thought-out scenarios, and the extent to which “technical operations” (bugging) were employed in the 1950s by the Romanian Secret Police.
Valentina Glajar, Professor