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April 29, 2008

Women and the Nation in Belli and Morejon

Guiterrez Chong demonstrates how women are used as symbols of national identity.
Guiterrez Chong show how women’s bodies are manipulated as national symbols in the arts and are often idealized to create archetypal images of nationalism. While women have been used for nationalist purposes, Guiterez Chong also shows how women themselves imagine the nation.

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April 8, 2008

Tentative questions for Benegas

Possible Questions for Benegas;
1. Remembering one of the articles we read last week for class, that in poetry rhythm comes first, and then meaning follows, is this case in your writing, particularly in the poem ‘Inutile’?
2. What kind of relationship do you have with your translators? And what role do you play in the process of the translation of your poems? Does the gender of your translators matter?
3. Do you consider your poetry as representative of women issues?
4. In ‘The Raft of the Medusa’: “no words to say the horror of death so well known?. Is this acknowledgement, on your part that sometimes language fails in the face of trauma?

April 7, 2008

Questions for Noni Benegas

I came up with a couple of questions for Noni Benegas. Like Daniela, I am sure that I will come up with more.

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April 1, 2008

I Love My Master-Sexuality, Desire, and Domination

Morejón considers sexuality and desire in a context of colonial slavery. The poem is full of tension and contradiction, and gives the effect of confusion, self-denial, abjection, dissonance, and desire. The title of the poem, “Amo a mi amo? also plays with language to suggest a mirror-like image that reverberates between love and slavery, love and property, and love, and love and power. While the poem refers to the knowledge of reports that her amor whips others, Morejón’s female subject questions her own position as a slave and why she lives in such miserable conditions and why she lives under servitude. The poem refers to a gender-specific oppression under colonial slavery. Morejón’s female subject feels imprisoned by the muslin robes and lace dresses that have been imposed upon her-the clothing suggests an imposition of his will onto hers by creating a costumed body that is congruent with his desires and the objectification and commidification of desire into Western customs.

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March 25, 2008

Sea and Memory


Both La balsa de la Medusa (Benegas) and Mujer Negra (Morejon) evoke the sea as a site of memory. Ocean-crossing is prominent in both texts as a process of transformation, of loss, and of the unknown, and a test of survival. In both texts, the sea is not remembered as an adventure as evoked in other texts concerning the ocean. Rather, in Benegas and Morejon the ocean is used to implicate trauma.

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The Private as alternative archive

The Private as alternative archive
Hirsch and Smith call for a feminist literary criticism that offer alternative archiving that challenges the “public media and official archives [that] memorialize the experiences of the powerful, those who control hegemonic discursive spaces.?(12) Judith Fetterley also demand ‘resisting readers’ “who interrogate the ideological assumptions that structure and legitimate linear narratives …?(12). I think Molloy’s Cerfitcate of Absence is such an alternative. It acknowledges the “private everyday experience, recognizing that they are as politically revealing in their own way as any event played out in the public arena.

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March 11, 2008

Constructions of Space and Time in Mujer Negra

Morejón’s Mujer negra situates the narrative of an Afro-Cuban woman within fluid dimensions of time and space. The poem, Mujer negra, is constructed from the perspective of a voice speaking of her past.

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March 4, 2008

Gilmore's 'Limits of Autobiography'

Gilmore’s ‘The Limits of Autobiography’
Gilmore’s main argument is centered on the relationship between trauma and self representation. She argues that autobiography “constrain[s] self- representations because of its legalistic definition of truth telling, its anxiety about invention, and its preference for the literal and verifiable…As a genre, autobiography is characterized less by a set of formal elements than by a rhetorical setting in which a person places herself or himself within testimonial contexts as seemingly diverse as the Christian confession…? (3)
Her concern is that the scrutiny and judgment that these testimonies open themselves to (as the private becomes public) can be as equally damaging as the trauma experienced by the writer. It is this “fear that threatens the writer into continued silence?, thus retreating the writer to the very silence she/he is trying to escape through autobiography. (This reminded me of an essay I recently read through which art historian Benjamin Buchloh launches an attack on a German artist Joseph Beuys. He accuses Beuys of a falsified autobiography which he sees as symptomatic of a dangerous cultural tendency of disavowing a traumatic past and a retreat into myth. He therefore discredits Beuys’s work based on this ‘falsification’ – in the same way that Stoll discredits Menchu.)

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I/We in Writing

Stacey Schlau’s The Use of the Word and Leigh Gilmore’s The Limits of Autobiography complicate ideas of genre and demonstrate the various ways in which writers employ and subvert genres, especially that of autobiography. Both acknowledge the constraints of genre and the difficulties in breaking the canon. The genre of testimonio provoke the limits of fiction, autobiography, individual and collective, personal and political. Both critics suggest that perhaps writing cannot fall into binary categories, but rather writing that perhaps might be understood as autobiographical, testimonio, or other push the limits of genre.

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February 26, 2008

Freedom on Kozameh's Steps Under Water

Freedom in Kozameh’s Steps Under Water
This passage is taken from page 49:
“…We being the creatures we are, have certain limits. Our feelings and thoughts are definitely limited. And that really frightens me…Do you want to know what I feel right now? I want to go back to prison. I miss my friends. I feel guilty. They should be free, all of them. And sometimes I think I don’t deserve this freedom I have. Look at what I’m doing. I’m celebrating my freedom by putting you in the position of cheating on your wife. You didn’t do it when she was in jail. But you do it now, when she’s free. This is all so ridiculous.? Her compulsion won’t allow her to stop; she walks, opens and closes her fists: “You know what? I need to feel free. I can’t live this way.? “You just said you wanted to go back to prison.? “Well, this is not the kind of freedom I had in mind.? Marco follows her eyes; he is irritated: “I know what you mean. You need a different kind of freedom. Now I get it. You seem to know a lot about that word: freedom. And tell me something, did it ever occur to you to look it up in the dictionary??

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The Word

“What I’m doing just isn’t working, trying to describe a moment of that magnitude. Almost absurd. Possible, but absurd. And let this be a sterile classification: I believe in the word. Fervently. For so many who can’t even imagine certain realities, who have passed through zones so distant from actual experience, or who haven’t passed through any zone at all, there’s no recourse other than words that are heard, read. Image or no images, always the word?

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February 19, 2008

The Image of Diana and the Influence of the Father in Certficate of Absence

This passage is from page 121 in the English version:
“Her father asked her to go back to Ephesus, to lose herself in Diana who will bring her back to life. She goes back at that moment, or rather to that dream: yes, in this room, she now accepts her father’s dubious gift. She realizes that, in saying the word Ephesus, her father was altering almost the nameless geography of her story, calling attention to the only place she would never be able to reach. What does she want from her father? Today she would accept anything: not one city, not thirty, but a labyrinth where, for the moment, she cannot find her way. She is aware of the deception as she brings in traces of Diana the huntress into her father’s message: in fact her father only asks her to visit Ephesus and gaze on the maternal colossus. The multiple breasts are not its only monstrous distinction. Below the waist, inlaid in an unlikely stone skirt and rendered static, are beasts: perhaps dogs’ heads, perhaps animal masks, she does not care to make them out. They have become part of the generous figure, that firmly set on huge feet, wisely crowned with a tower, spreads out her arms, promising everything and ultimately giving her nothing. Except, perhaps a challenge?

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Violence in Sylvia Molloy's Cerfiticate of Absence

Violence in Sylvia Molloy’s Certificate of Absence
This passage is taken from page 49 in the English version:
“Autobiographies: what pleasure she feels in following a self, paying attention of its little meanderings, pausing over the tiny detail that, time and time again, gives it shape…What she writes does not constitute, and will never constitute, an autobiography: rather, it tries to reproduce a disjointed series of acts of violence that befell her, that also befell others.?
The narrator’s refusal to label her writing (this book) an autobiography is because this is not so much of a coherent, personal story (the narrator remains anonymous throughout): it connects us to other people in her life (through whom she sometimes sees herself). In keeping with this genre, the fragmented story is told from the omniscient third person who is at the same time the protagonist. Molly uses this technique to allow the reader to be well acquainted with the narrator protagonist but at the same time to learn more about other characters through her.

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February 12, 2008

The Inhabitation in Belli's 'The Inhabited Woman'

The inhabitation in Belli’s The Inhabited Woman
I decided to do a close reading of a passage taken from page 53:
“She split us open with a single slice. A dry, almost painless scratch. Then her fingers were grasping the rind and my juice was flowing. Pleasurable. Like breathing the delicate inner tension. Similar to crying. My sections opening. My soft peels freeing the gentle tears they held within their round worlds. And then she was setting us on the table. From within the transparent vase, I watch her. I wait for her to hold me to her lips. I wait for the consummation of the rites, the joining of the circles.?

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February 5, 2008

CLOSE READING:Maria de Zayas

CLOSE READINGS: Maria de Zayas’s “Her Lover’s Slave?
The passage I picked is taken from page 158 : “Oh, the feminine weaknesses of women, turned into cowards from infancy and their strengths weakened because rather than playing at war they are taught how to make a hemistich! Oh, if only I had never come to my senses, but had gone from the arms of the evil gentleman to the grave! But my bad luck was saving me for greater misfortunes, if anything worse were possible.?

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February 4, 2008

close reading: la esclava de su amante

i did a close reading of a section on page 157, which starts with "¡Ah, flaqueza femenil de las mujeres," and ends with "las mujeres como yo así vengan sus agravios.?

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January 28, 2008

Cross-gendering in Pinar and Mallen de Soto

In Barbara Weissberger's "The Critic and Florencia Pinar," she takes on literary criticism that has either sought to essentialize Pinar's writing (to equate her writing voice with her authorial essence) or to applaud the feminist undertones of her poetry.

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on florencia pinar and ana caro mallén de soto

i agree with jasmine about the interpretation of a text revealing the reader’s biases—sometimes more so than those of the writer. and while i think it’s important to be careful not to impose our own ideas on authors from a completely different context, i also like to think of a feminist tradition as something much older than the concept of feminism. some call sor juana inés de la cruz (the 16th century poet/nun we discussed briefly last week) the first feminist of the americas. while it may be true that she was about as likely to self-identify as “feminist? as she was to march on the capitol demanding abortion rights, her writing arguing for women’s education and for a recognition of men’s culpability in women’s tarnished honor is quite consistent with feminist ideals.

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Enrtry1 Problems in feminist literary theory

The recovery of Spanish women’s writing appears to bring about various controversies in terms of the ways in which to approach, interpret, and represent these texts. Kaminsky points out that the paucity of early women’s writing that is available does not presume the non-existence of women writers in Spain. How then is it possible to create a narrative or literary history of Spanish women writers when there are so many gaps? Perhaps, these gaps and silences tell a variant narrative in which the silences, gaps, and contradictions voice more than the actual texts themselves? How then to read the texts that are available to us? Can literature be taken out of its context?

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