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Mayra Bottaro

Mayra Bottaro profile picture
  • Title: Assistant Professor of Spanish
  • Phone: 510-229-7713
  • Office: 418 Friendly Hall
  • Office Hours: Drop in: Thursdays 11-12pm.
  • Affiliated Departments: Latin American Studies
  • Interests: Critical Time Studies, Postcolonial Marxism, Material Culture, New Media Theory, Visual Culture

Statement

Interests

I earned my Ph.D. in Hispanic Languages and Literatures from the University of California, Berkeley, where I specialized primarily in 19th-century literatures and cultures of the Hispanic Atlantic. My teaching and research interests include critical time studies, new media theory, material and print culture, postcolonial marxism, and economic criticism. I am interested in understanding the multiple connections between time and temporality, and the constitution of space, affect, subjectivity, art, and politics. My research reflects on the multiple ways in which time underpins our epistemological frameworks, as I believe that claims upon power, individual political agency, and possibilities for social change are undergirded by configurations of time and temporality. When we talk about the environment, modern urban planning, capitalism, neo-liberalism, forms of labor, forms of leisure, fashion, colonialism and neocolonialism, we are always ultimately talking about our understanding of time. 

Research

In my book manuscript–Chronopolitics. New Media, Periodicity, and Seriality across the Atlantic, 1750-1880–I offer an examination of the links between material culture, media, and temporality by situating the production of periodical literature in print as a new representational medium within the transatlantic context. I identify this as part of what I call a culture of periodicity, located at the intersection between nation and empire. The book promotes a transoceanic analysis of nation and empire as well as a transoceanic concept of periodicity. By engaging the intercultural complexity at the core of periodical literature (almanacs, ephemera, pamphlets, manuals, serialized literature), I question critical perspectives centered on the book, in particular, those that privilege foundational fictions linking national literatures to the patriotic action of a singular masculine author. Contrary to being an uncorrupted instance, prior to the advent of mass culture, I posit the culture of periodicity as a constitutive element of modernity in the context of a Hispanic Atlantic space. The book identifies a series of changes in the understanding of time and the notion of futurity and shows how the aesthetics of seriality became embedded within epistemological changes. I claim that the intersection between (horological and timekeeping) technology and temporality impacts the aesthetic production of  “time perceptions”, with a particular focus in each chapter: deferral, belatedness, slowness/lateness, the untimely, anticipation, and idleness.

I am now researching two new projects. The first one, Telegraphic Imagination and the Mediated Self, considers telegraphic technologies as an active agent in an ontological and epistemological sense, and examines the role of materiality in the potential for telegraphic miscommunication. My claim is that this older technical medium plays a crucial role in the genealogies and archeological layers conditioning territorial politics, notions of embodiment, and transformations in the poetic constitution of the self in Latin America. The second project, investigates the relation between Hispanic modernism and “commodified authenticity”. This is a study of affective and aesthetics experiences and the early use of photography in the age of Rubén Darío.

Teaching

My teaching draws on various media (contemporary art, video installations, optical instruments, opera, ephemera, etc.). I have taught graduate seminars on the following topics: “Time-Power-Agency”,  “Theories of Modernity”, “Old New Media”, "Capital-Finance-Crisis"; I have also taught in collaboration with other Romance Languages colleagues : RL 623 “Colonial/Postcolonial Transitions” (with Lanie Millar) and  RL 623 “Comparative Modernities” (with Cory Browning).

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