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



Filed under Movement

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.



Filed under News

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.


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Filed under Theories, What Is A Scholar?

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.


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Filed under Bibliography, News, What Is A Scholar?

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.



Filed under News

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 people put their papers there. If my university did not have Project Muse, I could get papers from 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:


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.


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Filed under Bibliography

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.



Filed under What Is A Scholar?