Monthly Archives: January 2013

Chris Sepulvado

…will be executed February 13 by lethal injection at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola if he does not receive executive clemency.

Please sign the petition to our Governor, who is a practicing Catholic and pro-life.

Governor Jindal recently defunded hospice care in our state and was forced to reverse his position by pressure from the public and in particular from out of state.

Please sign. February 13 is Ash Wednesday which means that much of this state will be distracted by Mardi Gras festivities in Sepulvado’s projected last days.

Do not allow this clever trick to work.

Bobby Jindal, Governor
PO Box 94004
Baton Rouge, LA 70804

Axé.

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On my virtual university

So Clarissa taught my class this afternoon, via Skype. This was an excellent experience because I am not the expert on 18th century Spain she is, and Clarissa is a good lecturer, and the students were fascinated, and our class is better focused now. And I know how to Skype now, and I would be able to be a teaching reference, and in sum everything was beneficial.

Note, too, that I only know Clarissa from the blogs, so you cannot say blogging is a waste of time. In fact I have this strange sensation this semester that I have a virtual department in addition to my real one and the people I know in real life. In the virtual department this semester Clarissa has given a guest lecture in my course, Spanish Professor and I are sharing ideas and texts for the culture classes, and Stupid Motivational Tricks and I make remarks to each other on poetry and theory.

All of these people also have their own conversations with each other and with our colleagues in English, who include Dame Eleanor Hull, Undine and others. All of this is quite new and fascinating.

Axé.

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Lo que va de jueves

Jueves será, porque hoy, jueves, que proso estos versos, los húmeros me he puesto a la mala…

I am not counting any of the attempts at work I did last night as work time because I was too tired and incoherent, so yesterday had 6 hours. I think I might be getting sick, horrors.

Thursday so far has:

9-10 research
10-11 grade, prepare
11-12:30 teach and consult
1-2 grade, prepare
2-3:30 teach and consult
3:30-6 prepare, teach, consult

That will be 8.5 hours, and we will see if anything happens in the evening. There is e-mail to read and a report to write, so I am looking at 10 total hours today.

Axé.

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Research question du jour

“La representación literaria del incesto se liga íntimamente con la realidad histórica del mestizaje en Cuba. En una sociedad esclavista colonial la estratificación racial aseguraba la sobrevivencia de una minoría a base de categorías raciales exclusivas. En algún momento había que reprimir el concubinato racial para restaurar el patriarcado. La mera existencia de una clase media mulata pone en peligro los intereses económicos de los criollos. El incesto en la novela enfatiza el choque cultural y social entre estos dos mundos. La invocación del castigo del tabú detiene el ciclo del mestizaje y ofrece un modelo burgués de la familia como un posible futuro modernizador.”

That is not my writing but it is based on some writing done in a class I taught. Then I listened to the reworking by telephone so I am a secret collaborator. Here is my research question: if in Cuba the mulatos were a threat, what about the criollo-mestizo bloc that exists elsewhere? I will have to study this. My essay now has María and Cecilia Valdés in it but it may get more. If it does I can cover a lot of ground, do thick writing, and as part of the same (and not a different) project discuss the late 20th century issues I wanted to discuss originally.

I think I should look at Portocarrero again to see if this essay would be helped by what he has to say.

In her essay, Karen Monteleone quotes the passage from Doris Sommer our class disagreed with vociferously.

“Miscegenation was the road to racial perdition in Europe, but it was the way of redemption in Latin America, a way of annihilating difference and construction a deeply horizontal, fraternal dream of national identity. It was a way of imagining the nation through a future history, like a desire that works through time and yet derives its irresistible power from feeling natural and ahistorical.” (Sommer 39)

The problem with this is that Sommer has utterly bought the line on race and mestizaje that is sold to schoolchildren and the general populace in Latin America. It is like presenting the patriotic histories of the United States one learns in elementary school as research. Sommer is hard to argue with since she has done so much historical research on the lives of the authors and on European literary history, but her book still assumes, at bottom, that literature reflects reality and the author (even though she does bow to the idea of literature constructing “reality” and not simply serving as its at least partial mirror), and that the schoolbook homilies about mestizaje and nation that have abounded since the 1930s or 1940s are true.

Monteleone continues: “Nelson Osorio caracteriza la vanguardia latinoamericana como un “proceso global de reajuste ideológico cultural” (234) que ocurrió durante la época de entreguerras.” This reajuste changes the place of the mestizo and mulato in popular imagination and a lot of work is done in the art world to accomplish this (here there is a lot of interesting work to cite, that Hedrick book among many others). This is also a place my work on Brazil comes in.

Axé.

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A cabinet of curiosities

On the excuse of studying the 18th century I have discovered Lloyd DeMause, The History of Childhood (1974). It has led me to Gordon Rattray Taylor, an interesting person who wrote an allegedly psychoanalytic study of British childhood in the 18th century entitled The Angel Makers which was not well reviewed as he is a popular writer with some crank theories and not a professional historian.

He has a book called Sex in History, though, which is very funny. There are anecdotes about sex and extreme, random violence in the 18th century. Condoms had been invented by Fallopius around 1560, to combat syphilis. The middle ages had been completely wild. There are of course respectable sources on these matters but as I say, Taylor is entertaining.

The eighteenth century really is transitional, I can see it; the nineteenth and twentieth centuries are familiar and the seventeenth and before, foreign; as site of ideological struggle and change the 18th century is difficult to surpass.

Axé.

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Kristin Gjesdal and the cutting edge

I am still trying to understand the 18th century and do not. This, however, is an interesting article with an interesting author: Between Enlightenment and Romanticism: Some Problems and Challenges in Gadamer’s Hermeneutics, Kristin Gjesdal, Journal of the History of Philosophy, vol. 46, 2-2008, 285-306.

I now understand why to be on Academia.edu: people put their papers there. If my university did not have Project Muse, I could get papers from Academia.edu. Having discovered this and having had my first Skype conversation today, I feel very modern.

Then I discovered an old course flyer about the cutting edge so I will reproduce it. This is the kind of thing I truly like to do:

BODIES ELECTRIC: AVANT-GARDE POETICS

This course on avant-garde work from Spanish and English speaking traditions considers poetry as bodily experience and the poem as body. While in earlier poets like Whitman or Darío the sensorial often means wholeness, high modernist and avant-garde poetry fragments the body and represents it as a set of disjointed parts. Our discussion includes the questions of modernization as experience, modernity as environment, and poetry as physical event rather than disembodied or timeless text.

Readings will be from the poetry and essays of Gertrude Stein (USA/France), Federico García Lorca (Spain), Jack Spicer (USA), and César Vallejo (Peru/France). We will include commentary on visual arts of the period, including a number of short films. I am interested as well in the grammatical and the sound dimensions of poetry.

This would actually be an excellent book to write. All of these esoteric courses I invent, are ingenious and should be written as books, but I have to move on to the next ingeniously invented course. What faculty do is give their books as courses but this is not possible here since one must invent very many ingenious courses.

My work problem is this: I give courses most people only give when they are writing books on that topic, and that is the way in which I do in fact spend too much time on teaching. I should give this course again, better prepared and with currnt theory on embodiment, and see where it takes me.

Axé.

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Working Wednesday

9-9:30 e-mail
11:30 – 4:30 technical issues, more e-mail and website updating, office and file reorganization, student paper reorganizing, book finding and returning, Skype Clarissa. Most of this involved teaching, and there was a little service and a little research. There was also a 30 minute break.

This means 5 hours of inefficient work so far. Yesterday I was very efficient and the result of this usually means inefficiency the next day. I prefer medium efficiency, it allows me to reflect more and ultimately I get more done overall.

Now I have a lot of grading and preparation and much else to do, but I want to go running. We will see how much I get done this evening.

Axé.

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Spring Culture Museum

In the fall, I teach to the language requirement and give a senior/graduate seminar that is in field for me but never for the students, so everything is a struggle. In the spring I teach intermediate and slightly advanced undergraduate courses, mostly out of field. It feels like curating a culture museum.

Today we among other things we looked at:

♦ Carmen Laforet
♦ Guillermo Gómez Peña
♦ Nelson Pereira dos Santos
♦ Benedict Anderson
♦ The Spanish Constitution of 1812
♦ Jo Labanyi
♦ Francisco de Goya

I did this being a Latin Americanist, so it is an adventure. Some things students say and want to know:

♦ The Constitution of 1812 does not appear to separate church and state. Is that normal for the time?
♦ What is Enlightenment?
♦ Is Francisco de Goya related to the family that has Goya foods? Does this name have a meaning?
♦ Have I ever seen a Goya painting in person and if so, what were its dimensions?
♦ What? I have actually been to the Prado?
♦ What would be a good example of a monster produced by the sleep of reason? can we know whether it is the sleep or the dream?
♦ Is Jo Labanyi taking an “objective” view of Spanish literature, or would it be better to say that she tries to see it from several perspectives at once?
♦ If since the Reconquista Spain is all Catholic, and if expelled Moslems fled to Morocco, why would Cadalso set a work of Spanish literature in this place maligned by Spain — in the place of its Other, so to speak?

There were other questions, all interesting and some as good as the best listed here.

Axé.

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Et les amis de votre génération?

This is what my clique from junior high school has done. Two of us, including one servidora, were tracked to Ivies, two to state R1s, and one to the CSU system.

Tracked to Ivies: went to state R1 that was public Ivy. 1 Ph.D. obscure professor, 1 B.B.A. worked, married, dropped out, raised family, is philanthropist.

Tracked to state R1s: 1 dropped out of Ivy after freshman year, married, raised family, divorced, finished college and M.A., teaches middle school. 1 slow B.S. from state R1, M.A. from another state R1, married, raised family, divorced, teaches high school, is the only one besides me who has been continuously employed (and the of the two of us, only I have been continuously employed full time).

Tracked to CSU: slow B.S. from CSU, worked, married, dropped out, raised family, is artist.

Results: Ph.D. interdicted biological reproduction and also marriage, but this is also the most self supporting person; divorces cause the M.A.; marriage reduces likelihood of graduate education and also slows progress to undergraduate degree; only those with a graduate education are working. And what are we all working at? Teaching.

And I repeat: in this group it took the Ph.D. to be continuously employed full time, and the M.A. to get full time work that would support a person; college alone actually seems to be the ticket to not working. The highest standards of living are also maintained by those who finished college but do not work.

What seems most singular to me in all of this, however, is that although only one besides me holds the B.A. or A.B., everyone else went to science or business at that level, but both of the M.A.s are in Latin American Studies and their holders speak Spanish. I did not tell them to do this. Is it an odd coincidence, or is it just the way of the world?

Axé.

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On sugar as social actor, and that whacked 18th century

I am trying to understand the 18th century and I do not. It is foreign.

Sugar ruled the 18th century. Look at about minute 24. Then is now.

Current political organizing techniques were invented by the British anti-slavery movement. Corporate strategies were counter-organizing by the sugar industry.

Axé.

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