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Romance Languages and Literature

The Nation Within: The Imaginative Use of Family, the Female Body, and Memory to Write the Untold History

Jazmin Lopez ('09), Nivia Montenegro

In settings where authoritarianism has been the ruling construct in Latin America, populations have been suppressed, terrorized, and have lost their basic human rights. Intellectuals have been writing and voicing their testimonies in the hope that the truth about their nations is revealed. This summer I looked at two female authors and analyzed one fictional work by each in which they narrate the realities faced in theirnations: Zoé Valdés’ The Daily Nothingness (1995, Cuba), and Gioconda Belli’s The Inhabited Woman (1988, Nicaragua). I studied the two novels separately and analyzed how they used the family, the female body, and memory to convey their messages. I then compared them to examine the role of women in politics and history. To complete this project, I read critical work about the authors and the novels, feminist theory on the body, and the political history of these countries. They both constructed positive images of women, had protagonists that rejected images of feminine passivity and confronted history by finding a space in which they could speak and act. Valdés used ‘time-geography’ and Belli used ‘quest for identity’ to show the limitations that these women faced and how they overcame them. These protagonists, with their independence and rejection of the patriarchal order, inspire hope for Latin America and become part of a wider struggle for social justice.
Funding provided by: SURP (NEH)

Goodbye, Alejandra: Reading Pizarnik and (Her) Others

Bethany-Rachel Bentley ('09), Susana Chavez-Silverman

Over the past 15 years, Susana Chávez-Silverman has published extensively on the Argentine poet Alejandra Pizarnik. This year, her essay “Gender, Sexuality and Silence(s) in the Writing of Alejandra Pizarnik” will appear in Árbol de Alejandra: Pizarnik Reassessed. She will also begin to finalize the manuscripts for her own book Goodbye, Alejandra: Reading Pizarnik and (Her) Others, which explores Pizarnik’s writing as a palimpsest for the work of five other contemporary female Argentine poets. My work as Professor Chávez-Silverman’s research assistant centered on the first two chapters of her book, both of which challenge traditional Pizarnik scholarship through inter- and intratextual readings (between Pizarnik and other writers, between Pizarnik’s published and unpublished work). I found, read and summarized texts by Jean Starobinski and Valentine Penrose, writers who influenced Pizarnik. I also read and suggested ideas for drafts of the first two chapters and helped with the copy-editing of “Gender, Sexuality and Silence(s) in the Writing of Alejandra Pizarnik,” which was sent to the printer in June. Throughout the summer, I read several essays on Pizarnik and compiled an extensive bibliography of Pizarnik criticism for Professor Chávez-Silverman to refer to over the next year as she completes her book.
Funding provided by: SURP (NEH)

Research at Pomona