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January 9, 2017

LALISA Conference: April 13-15

Program for LALISA and Conference registration available here!

CALL FOR PAPERS: 2nd LALISA CONFERENCE: April 13-15 2017 (already closed)

From Catalonia to California, Cuba, Chile, to all the many areas impacted by the long Iberian expansion that started in the 15th century, the foundational divisions of center and periphery have constituted cultural and social spaces where languages, bodies, ethnicities, and alternate mappings have resisted colonial hegemonic practices and institutions. According to Mexican philosopher Leopoldo Zea (1912-2004) the peripheral mappings within which Spain and Portugal were placed in the early modern period positioned their colonial territories at “the periphery of a periphery.” Decolonial movements and theoretical discussions have critically revisited the concept of periphery and problematized the discussion with new terms such as Gloria Anzaldúa’s “nepantilism” (“being between crossroads”) and her post-binary discussion of mestizo/a identities. Following on the fruitful discussions of our inaugural conference at Reed College in the spring of 2016, our Second Conference of LALISA at the University of Oregon aims to investigate the validity and contemporary currency of the center-periphery model as a way to understand Latin American, Latino/a, and Iberian cultural productions and social formations. We expect to receive papers from various disciplines across the humanities and the social sciences that will deal with issues related to the central themes of the conference:

Center/periphery; Peripheral knowledges and identities; Colonial and postcolonial cartographies; Spatial identifications; Walls, borders, and the end of globalization; Eurocentrism, white supremacist geographies of exclusion; Environmental humanities; Global/local; Postcoloniality in the post-Hispanic world; Gender formations in the peripheries of modernity; Virtual borders, zones of influence, divisions; Regionalism and nationalism, postnationalism, and neonationalism; Space and the modern/premodern/postmodern debate; Latinidad/hispanidad/indigenismo; Enrique Dusell’s concepts “underside of modernity, Transmodernity”; Marginalization and economic oppression; Racial peripheries, racialized bodies and places; Transatlantic crossings, hemispheric displacements, migrations, diasporas.

Abstracts should include a full title, a 300-word description of the paper, and the institutional affiliation of the presenter. Papers will be accepted in Spanish, Portuguese, and English. Please direct your enquiries and abstract submissions to

Peripheral Mappings:

Social and Cultural Geographies from the Underside of Modernity

Deadline for receipt of abstracts is January 30th.

Confirmations and a full program will be made available in February. A selection of revised papers presented at the conference will be published in the new UO-based online journal Periphērica: Journal of Social, Cultural, and Literary History in 2017/18.

The conference fee ($50 for faculty, $25 for graduate students) will include light breakfast and lunches on Friday and Saturday; a conference dinner ($45) on Friday will be available for those wishing to attend. Presenters will need to be members of the LALISA association at in order to attend the conference and the business meeting on Saturday, April 15th.


Poetry takes Jesús Sepúlveda to South Africa

Sylt Foundation Invites Jesús Sepúlveda to South Africa

Chilean poet and senior instructor Jesús Sepúlveda just returned from a three-week writer’s residency in Johannesburg where he met South African writers, poets, and artists.


Renowned poet Vonani Bila and Jesús Sepúlveda

Sponsored by the Sylt Foundation, Sepúlveda visited renowned poet Vonani Bila and his wife Gudani Ramikosi, an author of children’s books, at the Timbila Writers’ Village in the Northeastern province of Limpopo. Bila completed in 2016—in collaboration with poet Max Makisi Marhanele—the edition of the first comprehensive monolingual Xitsonga dictionary, Tihlungu ta Rixaka. Xitsonga is one of the ten vernacular languages in South Africa and the 920-page dictionary represents a great recognition of the importance of South African native languages. Sepúlveda will donate his personal copy to the UO library, so the dictionary can be available in the Pacific Northwest library system.

While in Johannesburg—also known as Joburg or Jozi, the two most common abbreviations for this city, the largest one in South Africa—Sepúlveda met with Aragorn Eloff, a member of the bolo’bolo collective and responsible for the publication of his book The Garden of Peculiarities reprinted in Cape Town in 2016. On the occasion of Sepúlveda’s visit to South Africa, Eloff published an interview, “A Mockingbird in the Garden,” in the online publication Medium on December 15, 2016.


Sepúlveda and kids from the Elim

Sepúlveda and kids from the Elim

Indra Wussow, art critic and collector, translator, writer and director of the Sylt Foundation, organized several literary tertulias to connect Sepúlveda with local writers and poets such as Xoli Norman, Charl-Pierre Naudé, Phillippa Yaa de Viliers as well as pianist Jill Richards and painter Jaco van Schalkwyk. Wussow also organized visits to sites of cultural, historical, and political interest. Tumi Mokgope, project manager of the Sylt Foundation, guided Sepúlveda through these sites: the Township of Soweto, home of Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu where the uprising of 1976 triggered the social movement that ended apartheid in 1990; the Cradle of Humankind and the Sterkfontein Caves in the outskirts of Johannesburg, where the finds of ancient hominin fossils are exhibited. Sepúlveda also visited the Apartheid Museum in Joburg and the Freedom Park Museum in Pretoria to learn about the systematic and hideous regime of racial segregation installed in the country from 1948 to 1990.

During his stay, Sepúlveda also met with writers Zaide Harneker and Frank Meintjies, active members of the South African literary and political milieu, and discussed the development of the Abantu Book Festival, activism in Johannesburg, and the social and educational crisis in the country, with a 26.6% unemployment rate in 2016. Sepúlveda also discussed the current situation with Angie Kapelianis, broadcast journalist of SABC National Radio, who has been covering political news since Mandela’s presidential election in 1994.

While writing about the Soweto uprising, Sepúlveda found intriguing similarities between Chile and South Africa. “I was surprised to realize how close the recent political history of both countries are. Chile and South Africa ended their cruel regimes through massive demonstrations and civil disobedience at the end of the 1980’s, while transitioning toward modern, stable and yet neoliberal democracies. Rampant neoliberalism produces abyssal social gap and class segregation, which is the cause of huge problems in both countries. Another similarity is the nature of the extractive economies based on mine exploitation—with its negative ecological impact on the natural environment and people’s health. Another parallel is how South Africa and Chile have become in the last decade magnetic poles that attract economic immigration. While Chile has the fastest growing immigrant population in South America, receiving people from neighbor countries as well as from Colombia, Haiti, and Spain; South Africa is the second African country after Ivory Coast to receive people, making the immigrant population 4% of the total inhabitants in the country. After this residency, I have learned a great deal about South Africa, helping me to reflect with a wider perspective on Chile as well as the US, and reaffirming my conviction to honor linguistic diversity and cultural differences as the only way to build up tolerant societies for a harmonious world. I’m extremely grateful to the Sylt Foundation and Indra Wussow for this great opportunity.”


Xoli Norman

Indra Wussow

Indra Wussow

February 22, 2016

Epple publishes article on Microfiction in the US

Revista Quimera 2Professor Emeritus of Spanish Juan Epple has just published the article “El microcuento en los Estados Unidos” (microfiction in the United States) in the journal Quimera 386, Barcelona, January 2016. This article describes the evolution of US microfiction from nineteenth century writers Mark Twain, Ambrose Bierce, Kate Chopin to modern and contemporary authors Ernest Hemingway, Patricia Highsmith and Lydia Davis

Sepúlveda publishes book on Latin American poets in historical context

poets on the edgeBrown Walker Press just published Poets on the Edge: Vicente Huidobro, César Vallejo, Juan Luis Martínez, and Néstor Perlongher by Senior instructor Jesús Sepúlveda in a 200-page edition on January 2016 with cover art by Chilean artist Ivo Vergara.

Poets on the Edge critically explores the relationship between poetry and its context through the work of four Latin American poets: Chilean Vicente Huidobro (1898-1948), Peruvian César Vallejo (1893-1938), Chilean Juan Luis Martínez (1943-1993), and Argentine Néstor Perlongher (1949-1992). While Huidobro and Vallejo establish their poetics on the edge in the context of worldwide conflagrations and the emergence of the historical avant-garde during the first half of the twentieth century, Martínez and Perlongher produce their work in the context of the Chilean and Argentine dictatorships respectively, developing different strategies to overcome the panoptic societies of control installed throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s. Martínez recreates the avant-garde tradition in a playful manner to avoid censorship and also proposes a philosophical poetics to stage a utopian project oriented toward redesigning the house of civilization that has fallen apart. Perlongher unfolds his peculiar Neobaroque sensitivity in order to reshape the complex Latin American identities, culminating his poetic project with two collections written under the influence of ayahuasca-based ceremonies. Poets on the Edge offers the reader a new understanding of the hybrid and edgy nature of Latin American poetics and subjectivity as well as of the evolution of poetry written in Spanish during the twentieth century.

The book is available at the UO bookstore, Amazon, as well as at the publishing house website. Stay tuned for a book party!

For more information, see

February 9, 2016

Arabic texts provide key to understanding early Spanish fiction

El Libro del Caballero Zifar Paris BN MS Espagnol 36 f32r. Source: Wikipedia

El Libro del Caballero Zifar Paris BN MS Espagnol 36 f32r. Source: Wikipedia

Professor of Spanish David Wacks has published “Popular Andalusi Literature and Castilian Fiction: Ziyad Ibn ‘Amir Al-Kinani, 101 Nights, and Caballero Zifar” in Revista de Poética Medieval 29 (2015): 311–335. A self-archived postprint is available at:

As it turns out, the popular literature of Muslim Spain was an important influence on early Spanish fiction. There is very little manuscript evidence of the popular (non-courtly) literature of al-Andalus (Muslim Spain). For this reason it is difficult to assess its importance for the development of Spanish literature. Two recently discovered Arabic texts written in Muslim Spain, Ziyad ibn ‘Amir al-Kinani (Granada, ca. 1250) and the 101 Nights (Granada, 1234) are two examples of popular Arabic fiction that provide important information for our understanding of works of early Spanish fiction such as the Libro del Caballero Zifar (ca. 1300). The two Arabic works provide evidence of a bilingual culture of storytelling that nourished both Arabic and Spanish literary texts. In particular, the inclusion of themes from the medieval legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table in Ziyad that predates the earliest translations of Arthurian texts into Spanish forces us to rethink both the sources of Zifar as well as the Iberian adaptation of Arthurian material in general.

Hadith Ziyad ibn Amir al-Kinani, Escorial MS Arabe 1876 f1v-2r

Hadith Ziyad ibn Amir al-Kinani, Escorial MS Arabe 1876 f1v-2r

January 13, 2016

Wacks wins National Jewish Book Award

Professor of Spanish David Wacks has been selected to receive the National Jewish Book Award in the category of Sephardic Culture for his 2015 book publication, Double Diaspora in Sephardic Literature: Jewish Cultural Production Before and After 1492 (Indiana University Press).

From the publisher’s website:

The year 1492 has long divided the study of Sephardic culture into two distinct periods, before and after the expulsion of Jews from Spain. David A. Wacks examines the works of Sephardic writers from the 13th to the 16th centuries and shows that this literature was shaped by two interwoven experiences of diaspora: first from the Biblical homeland Zion and later from the ancestral hostland, Sefarad. Jewish in Spain and Spanish abroad, these writers negotiated Jewish, Spanish, and diasporic idioms to produce a uniquely Sephardic perspective. Wacks brings Diaspora Studies into dialogue with medieval and early modern Sephardic literature for the first time.

dd njba

January 11, 2016

Herrmann Awarded NEH Fellowship for book project on Spanish Civil War

Associate Professor of Spanish Gina Herrmann has been awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship for her book project, Voices of the Vanquished: Spanish Women on the Left between Franco and Hitler.

Voices of the Vanquished is a book about Spanish and Catalan women’s oral histories that recount and grapple with their participation in anti-fascist movements in Spain during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), their fight against the dictatorship of Francisco Franco (1939-1975), their involvement in the French Resistance during World War II (1940-45), and for some, their survival of Nazism.


Tití (L) y Neus Catalá (R) After their Liberation from the Nazi Camp at Ravensbruck

Tití (L) y Neus Catalá (R) After their Liberation from the Nazi Camp at Ravensbruck


Herrmann will take her fellowship in the 2017-18 academic year.

January 6, 2016

Wacks writes on Spanish romance of conversion

Professor of Spanish David Wacks has published “Romance, Conversion, and Internal Orientalism in Crónica de Flores y Blancaflor (ca. 1290)” in Narrative Culture 2.2 (270-288). A Self-archived postprint is available at

Crónica de Flores y Blancaflor is a medieval romance interpolated into a thirteenth-century account of the struggles of the kings of Asturias (eighth–ninth centuries) with the Umayyad Caliphate in Cordova. In this essay Wacks demonstrates how the chronicler mapped political concerns onto courtly adventure narrative in order to promote ideologies of conquest and conversion. Flores’s conversion to Christianity in the context of his lifelong love relationship with Blancaflor is a metaphor for the Christian dream of the conquest of al-Andalus and the conversion of Iberian Muslims and Jews.


November 2, 2015

Four questions for… Associate Professor of French and Director of Graduate Studies, Fabienne Moore


Who or what inspired you to do the work you do today?

As a professor of French literature, Moore’s answer to what inspired her to do the work she does was simple: her love for reading. “I consider myself a reader before anything else,” she said when explaining the role that literature has in her life. “I was eager to learn how to read so that I could stop depending on my mother to read things stories for me-” She expressed the interest she has had for reading since she learned the alphabet, from then on she hasn’t stopped devouring books about of poetry, novels, bandes dessinées, the literature of the European Enlightenment, and the French Revolution and early Romanticism among others, turning it into a career. “I personally think reading is an active engagement, not a passive one,” describing her interest in digging deep into literary works and actively decoding texts. Moore credits the admiration she has for poets, novelists, and essayists to pursuing a career in analyzing and teaching 18th and early 19th century French literature, having a chance to publish her own critical works as well as continue researching and learning as she goes. She is currently finishing a monograph that she has worked on for the past ten years in which she is exploring the life of French author François-René de Chateaubriand, and his life and work as a witness before and after the French Revolution, and under Napoleon’s first Empire, exploring the struggle of literature to challenge colonial politics.

What moment or circumstance led you to pursue this career?

It’s not rare to be confused or uncertain about a career path as soon as you graduate from college, and it was no different for Professor Moore. “I had no career plans for a long time,” Moore responded when asked about what led her to do the work she does now a days and for the last almost fifteen years. It wasn’t until the end of her Ph. D. work in Comparative Literature at New York University that she decided to pursue a career in education.… “There was no specific moment, I just wanted to continue learning and researching, and reading of course, it just made sense.” Moore also explains how her arrival to the University of Oregon was a matter of chance and hard work: “The position opened up in 2000…I was interested because it was a public institution and the campus was extraordinary.” She highlighted that finding a career is a process that unfolds unexpectedly, and something you must be patient with; her first job in France was as a summer camp leader and her first job in the United States was selling books in a bookstore.


What advice would you give someone learning a second language?

“It’s a lifelong project,” Moore said when asked what taking up a new language meant to her. Professor Moore is no stranger to learning new languages, having a couple under her belt, so she shared her wisdom and personal advice for those who are in the process of or are considering learning a new language: “Be curious and be patient, it takes time.” She expressed the importance of immersion to get first-hand experience of the cultures that revolve around the languages you want to learn, so that you can absorb the complete experience and not only the linguistics of it. If you are looking to get a more hands on experience with a new language, Moore emphasized the value of traveling and taking advantage of study abroad programs to further develop your experience: “Travel abroad and explore other customs, people and places.”

What’s your favorite memory so far at University of Oregon?

Professor Moore struggled to pick just one of her favorite memories so far during her time here at the University of Oregon, she eagerly shared a couple of her most memorable times during her time on campus, involving students and faculty, but distinguished one from all the others. The memory for which she credited the connection and acceptance she felt from the very start when she presented her research on 18th century French literature during her job talk in front of the Romance Language Faculty: “My senior colleague Evlyn Gould introduced me in a way that made me feel that she completely understood my research on prose poetry, perhaps even better than I did at the time!” Moore was energized by the way Professor Gould introduced her project and work, putting thought and complete critical interest into something that is typically a straight forward introduction right off a CV. “I felt inspired, she was someone I wanted to work with,” and from then on she has, and continues to be part of Romance Language Department, now not only as an Associate Professor of French but as well as the Director of Graduate Studies, taking up new challenges as she goes.

by Vanessa Santillan-Nieto



June 1, 2015

Wacks publishes book on Sephardic literature


from publisher website: 

Double Diaspora in Sephardic Literature: Jewish Cultural Production Before and After 1492. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2015.

The year 1492 has long divided the study of Sephardic culture into two distinct periods, before and after the expulsion of Jews from Spain. David A. Wacks examines the works of Sephardic writers from the 13th to the 16th centuries and shows that this literature was shaped by two interwoven experiences of diaspora: first from the Biblical homeland Zion and later from the ancestral hostland, Sefarad. Jewish in Spain and Spanish abroad, these writers negotiated Jewish, Spanish, and diasporic idioms to produce a uniquely Sephardic perspective. Wacks brings Diaspora Studies into dialogue with medieval and early modern Sephardic literature for the first time.

David Wacks’s study is groundbreaking for its pioneering scope and poignant analysis. Through the critical lens of a ‘double diaspora’ Wacks sheds new light on the themes of expulsion and redemption in works by some of the most important medieval Spanish Jewish authors in the post-Zion Iberian exile such as Moses Maimonides and Judah Halevi. Wacks also leads the field of Sephardic Studies in a new direction by casting his critical eye on texts by lesser known Jewish writers, including the kabbalist Joseph Karo, living in a second exile from post-1492 Spain. —Gregory B. Kaplan, University of Tennessee

David Wacks’s elegant monograph bridges the divide between Hebraists and Hispanists, medievalists and early modernists, with conceptual sophistication and substantive insights. It makes, indeed, a compelling case for the analytic viability of “double diaspora” in the literary history of Sephardic Jews and the inscription of Hispano-Jewish literature in the Weltliteratur canon. An important contribution and a superb read. —Luis M. Girón Negrón, Harvard University

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