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September 19, 2017

Sept 26-27: Chilean poet, Raúl ZURITA at UO

RAÚL ZURITA (1950) is one of Latin America’s most celebrated poets. His works include Purgatorio (1979), Anteparaíso (1982), Canto a su amor desaparecido (1985), La Vida Nueva (1994), INRI (2003) and Zurita (2011). Through his writings, Zurita chronicles the violent history of Chile’s military dictatorship as well as that of the Americas since the conquest. In 1979, along with other artists, he founded CADA, Colectivo de Acciones de Arte, an art action group dedicated to the creation of political art that would resist the military regime. In 1982, he composed a poem in the sky over New York, and in 1993 he bulldozed “ni pena ni miedo” (no pain no fear) into the coarse sands of the Desert of Atacama. Due to its dimensions, this line is only visible from the sky. Zurita was awarded the Chilean National Prize of Literature and a scholarship from the Guggenheim Foundation. He has been conferred two Doctor honoris causa degrees and is Professor emeritus at the Universidad Diego Portales.

 

Lunch Brown Bag Conversation in Spanish with the Poet

TUESDAY SEPT 26 at 12:00pm to 1:30am
Erb Memorial Union (EMU), Lease Crutcher Lewis Room 023
1395 University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403

POETRY Reading (in SPANISH)
WEDNESDAY SEPT 27 4pm-5:30pm
Browsing Room, Knight Library
(Q/A in Spanish and English)

The generous support of the College of Arts and Sciences Program Grant, the Oregon Humanities Center, the Translation Studies Working Group, Romance Languages, Comparative Literature, Latin American Studies, and the Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies (CLLAS) makes this event possible. These events are free and open to the public.

 

Contact Prof. Cecilia Enjuto Rangel (enjuto@uoregon.edu) for a reservatiofor the Q/A session. We will meet at noon, so if you want to bring a brown bag lunch, you can.

August 28, 2017

Jesús Sepúlveda Celebrates the 27th International Festival of Poetry in Medellín, Colombia

Eleven days after the FARC (the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) laid down their arms, the International Festival of Poetry in Medellín began its 27th version, celebrating world peace and reconciliation in Colombia.

If Medellín was associated with Pablo Escobar and the drug cartels in the early 1990’s, today it has become the capital of poetry.

From July 8th to 15th, 2017, an international community of poets met in Medellín to celebrate poetry and peace through the slogan “construyendo el país soñado” and explore possible articulations to link poetry to the peace-making process.

Chilean poet and RL instructor Jesús Sepúlveda was invited to participate with more than 100 other selected international and Colombian poets to read poetry in public.  Readings were also held in Bogotá and in other locations in the country, including the so-called “normalization zones” near temporary guerrilla camps where former fighters transition into civil life.

Each day poets shared their poetry in public spaces—local libraries in underprivileged neighborhoods, countercultural theaters, universities, public plazas, and many cultural buildings.

This year was symbolic because of the recent peace agreement, but also particularly difficult because of political conflicts, which led some important institutions to withdraw their support from the festival.  As the founder and director of the festival poet Fernando Rendón put it, the cultural functionaries feel they own the public budget, therefore:

“Aunque la guerra haya terminado, se mantiene la escala de tropas y armamentos, y el mal gusto por la áspera dominación y la cultura de la fuerza; se menoscaba aún más el presupuesto de la cultura; se interceptan los fondos de las agencias de cooperación que engrosan los presupuestos ministeriales; se imponen nuevos tributos y requisitos a las actividades culturales; se privatizan espacios tradicionales para el arte; se restringe al máximo el uso del espacio “público”; se hace inaccesible el costo de los libros y otros productos culturales; se incumplen compromisos con sectores  avanzados del teatro nacional; se imponen a los actores culturales las mismas normas contables que a las empresas trasnacionales; se retienen aportes vitales para desarrollar procesos en los tiempos puntuales; se maltrata a los creadores y gestores.”

 

In spite of these difficulties, the festival was able to assemble poets, musicians and the public in an exceptional and peaceful symbiosis that makes this festival one of the most important poetry events around the world.

Poets also led literary workshops on current issues.  Jesús Sepúlveda delivered a talk on poetry and utopia called “Jardines para la paz” at the Corporación Ecológica y Cultural Penca de Sábila.  At the end of this workshop, participants wrote their own creative pieces.  The following day a reading was organized at the Palacio de Bellas Artes where poets Samuel Bossini and Graciela Maturo from Argentina and Jesús Sepúlveda read together with some participants from different workshops that took place during the week in the context of the “Escuela de Poesía del Festival” directed by poet Jairo Guzmán.

The closing ceremony of the festival was a collective reading where many poets, including Sepúlveda, read their work in front of a multitude that gathered at the Parque de los Deseos.  The crowd’s enthusiastic cheers and applause were an uplifting confirmation of the powers of poetry to embrace peace and unity in a country submerged in armed conflict for the last 53 years.

Jesús Sepúlveda adds: “I can only express my gratitude for the warm welcome and dedication of Fernando and Luis Eduardo Rendón, Gloria y Natalia, and all organizers for the smooth organization led by a team of presenters, interpreters, and translators, and for the energizing spirit of Colombia.  Language transformed into poetry and poetry transformed into peace are the keys of this festival whose creative resonance is a crucial experience for poets in all languages.  ¡Viva el Festival Internacional de Poesía de Medellín!”

[For more information about the “Festival Internacional de Poesía de Medellín,” click here: https://www.festivaldepoesiademedellin.org/es/Intro/index.htm]

 

June 8, 2017

RL student to join Peace Corps in Peru

Briauna Jones (B.A. Spanish and Comparative Literature, with Latin American Studies minor, 2017) will travel to Peru after graduation in June to work in the youth development sector of the Peace Corps. After three months of training in Lima, her job will focus on healthy lifestyles and vocational skills for youth aged 14 to 22.

“I look forward to using my Spanish in a meaningful way in order to communicate with youth about well-rounded diets, safe sex practices, and exercise plans, as well as interviewing skills and resume building,” says Jones, a native of Sunriver, Oregon. Her assignment runs from August 2017 to December 2019.

Congratulations, Briauna!

March 25, 2017

Speak Spanish? Portuguese? Consider a Major or Minor in Latin American Studies

Investigate why Frida Kahlo’s paintings are so enduringly popular. Dive into the world of Latin American soccer. Separate fact from fiction in the biography of Ernesto “Che” Guevara. Sample popular dishes in countries across Latin America. The Latin American Studies Program offers an in-depth look at the richness and diversity of a vast area and its people. Whether pre–Columbian art, the striking wonder of the Amazon rainforest, or the history of colonialism tugs at your heartstrings, you’ll be forever changed by your newfound knowledge.

Take advantage of study abroad programs where you’ll travel to Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, or other exciting places to sharpen your language skills and become familiar with new cultures. In Eugene, you can volunteer for a variety of organizations such as Centro Latino Americano, a local bilingual multicultural agency dedicated to helping the Latino community, or become politically active with the Latin American Solidarity Committee. UO students have also worked with the local school districts to mentor youth. Others have volunteered at Siempre Amigos, which provides health services to survivors of torture and political violence.

You’ll delve into politics, literature, science, ecology, and other engaging topics in courses such as Caribbean Migrants in the Literary Imagination or The Cold War in Latin America. Learn from top-notch scholars who offer encouragement in a supportive atmosphere.

Due to its inherently interdisciplinary training, our undergraduate major in Latin American Studies provides a thorough grounding in the languages, history, geography, and some of the central cultural and socio-economic issues at stake in the region. Career opportunities for students completing a degree in Latin American studies are available through such avenues as research centers, private foundations working in the area, international businesses, international nongovernmental organizations (including human-rights and environmental organizations), the Peace Corps, the United States Foreign Service, international aid programs, the United Nations and other international organizations.

September 29, 2016

Light as a Feather: Translating a darkly political and complex graphic novel

It is an apocalyptic take on modern-day Mexico: Conquering angels rule the nation, indigenous groups stage a vicious revolt, widespread bloodshed ensues and no clear victor emerges.

This is Edgar Clément’s Operación Bolívar, a graphic novel with themes of conquest and foreign influence that resonate just as well now as when the book was published in 1990.

Amy Poeschl first came across Clément’s highly political project in a class on Latin American comic books last year. Long a fan of graphic novels, she instantly fell for Bolívar.

So for her, it was a no-brainer to use the book as the basis for a research project in senior lecturer Amanda Powell’s class on literary translation. Students were assigned to translate a Spanish text, such as a poem or part of a book, into English.

Never mind that none of Powell’s students had ever tried to translate a graphic novel before. Or that Bolívar is filled with complicated subtexts referring to the Spanish conquest of Mexico and the United States’ presence in Latin America. Or that Poeschl was committing not just to the translation of text, but making her new English-language version align with the original book’s visually lavish and often pointedly satirical images.

“I knew it was a big challenge because I had to deal with graphics as well as the words,” said Poeschl, who graduated from the UO earlier this year with a degree in Spanish. “But I adored the graphic novel so much that it was worth it.”

In Latin America, authors have used graphic novels to tackle serious subjects for decades. Through sharp writing and detailed imagery, they’ve pushed for economic and cultural reform, provided alternate views of the region’s history and pointedly criticized authoritarianism in government.

In Mexico, officials have distributed graphic novels widely to promote literacy among the nation’s citizens, particularly the poor, and to teach the country’s history. These trends laid the groundwork for the medium’s acceptance as a legitimate form of literature by a large swath of young people; they have carried that respect and love of graphic novels into adulthood and broadened the appeal of the medium.

Putting a Puzzle Together

Poeschl translated 20 pages of the 164-page novel. She started her project with comparatively strong chops in Spanish—she’s been studying the language since middle school and her family hails from Puerto Rico.

She pored over the 20 pages she translated roughly 100 times. It was like putting a puzzle together—one that helped Poeschl realize that translation is what she loves most about Spanish. “If I could do nothing but this for the rest of my life,” she said, “I’d do it in a heartbeat.”

First, Poeschl did a rough translation of a section, then she refined it over and over. She researched each word’s meaning in English and Spanish, referring to translation dictionaries and then repeating the process panel by panel. She spent days analyzing even a single image of an angel’s body before she began writing an interpretation.

“Researching words and their etymologies was fascinating,” Poeschl said.

Given Clément’s penchant for playing with words, Poeschl felt an obligation to be meticulous even with seemingly obvious translations.

Consider the phrase “la recuperación de la conciencia.” It could be interpreted as “coming to awareness” or “reawakening,” but Poeschl ultimately translated it as “the recovery of the conscience.” That might seem to be the most logical, literal choice, but it was one that Poeschl arrived at only after revisiting the important phrase repeatedly with her classmates and Powell.

Poeschl’s solution, Powell said, subtly drew attention to how Clément skewers the corporate commercialization of basic human activities like making art, healing the sick and seeking spiritual consolation. Thus the need for a recovered conscience.

Along with weighing possible word choices, Poeschl sought to craft each English sentence to match the author’s tone—which presented another layer of challenge. In Bolívar, Clément switches freely between a colloquial voice and a professorial style of the kind you’d find in a history book.

Poeschl also decoded and translated metaphors and puns that have no English equivalent, while ensuring that the translation accurately reflected the accompanying illustrations.

In one passage, Clément, in describing angels, uses a word—“ligeros”—that means both feathery and light, but also trivial or frivolous. There is no single word in English that even comes close to all these shades of meaning, Poeschl said—but the metaphor “light as a feather” fit perfectly.

“That was one that I worked on for weeks before I finally went, ‘Oh, that’s so obvious,’” she said. “You want so much to find that perfect word and you know it’s out there.”

Shades of Meaning

Powell praised Poeschl for skillfully navigating an exceedingly complex and multifaceted novel. Bolívar interweaves allusions to indigenous, Mexican, American and European cultures with Biblical references and political satire.

Translation is more than pulling out a dictionary and plugging in a word that fits, Powell said. For Poeschl’s project, it required looking at the translation within the theme of the novel, while taking into account the particularities of the Spanish language.

“Even within a language, we have instances where no two synonyms denote or connote exactly the same thing,” Powell said. “Each has a shade of meaning, and the history of usage implies a certain thing. That’s all the more true between languages.”

For her part, Poeschl hopes her research will resonate with a larger audience than simply her teacher and classmates. She wants to reach US Latinos and Hispanics who are losing their Spanish fluency, which includes some of her friends.

She chose to translate Bolívar in part because it is filled with important ideas about Mexican history and politics that, she hopes, her friends will more easily grasp in English than Spanish.

“Part of the motivation for me to do this was I had so many friends whose Spanish wasn’t great,” Poeschl said. “I wanted to make it available to them because I knew it was going to be right up their alley.”

Literary translation is valuable as more than just a research exercise, Powell said. It can serve as ideal training for a wide range of careers, including the legal, medical and diplomatic professions.

“It is one of best preparations for any field where the language is nuanced,” Powell said.

Beyond translation, undergraduates in Romance languages have pursued many other avenues of research. Some have studied French- and Spanish-speaking communities in the US, looking at questions such as bilingualism; they have investigated how language shapes communities and how communities that share a language change over time. They have delved into topics as diverse as medieval romance and postmodern performance.

Research in Romance languages also exposes students to often-overlooked parts of the French-speaking world such as Africa, areas of the Caribbean and the Middle East and regions of Africa and South Asia that speak Portuguese.

“When you learn about Africa in high school, you may learn about French-speaking Africa, but rarely do you learn about Portuguese-speaking Africa,” said Amalia Gladhart, department head. “Undergraduate research in Romance languages exposes you to new worlds you never knew existed.”

—Jim Murez

Photo caption: In Operación Bolívar, indigenous people in Mexico wage an all-out war against a ruling class of angels. The book is filled with subtexts referring to the Spanish conquest of Mexico and the United States’ presence in Latin America.

This article appears in CASCADE http://cascade.uoregon.edu/fall2016/humanities/light-as-a-feather/
Cascade
College of Arts and Sciences
1245 University of Oregon
Eugene, OR 97403-1245
cascade@uoregon.edu
MORE ARTICLES IN HUMANITIES

The Dark Side
Warrior Woman
Loud and Proud

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

February 11, 2016

Third Annual Symposium on Spanish as a Heritage Language (SSHL) at UO Feb 18-20

Mariko Plescia Makes a Short Film about Interning for the 2015 EDOC Film Festival

“What do we value more: our commitment to justice or our fear of the law?”

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden posed this question to a full house the opening night of the 2015 EDOC (“Encuentros del Otro Cine”) Film Festival in Quito, Ecuador. May 21st at roughly 7 p.m. in Quito, 3 a.m. in Moscow, Snowden joined the festival via videoconference to discuss Laura Poitras’ film Citizenfour (2014). For Romance Languages graduate student Mariko Plescia (RL PhD ABD), who interned with the festival during the 2014-2015 academic year, this moment represented not only the culmination of much collaboration to secure the meeting with Snowden, but also a link between her research on Latin American documentary film and compelling contemporary politics.

Snowden joined the film festival EDOC 2015 via videoconference.

Snowden joined the film festival EDOC 2015 via videoconference.

 

After defending the prospectus of her dissertation, “The Politics and Poetics of Time in Contemporary Latin American Documentary Film,” Mariko wanted a way to gain professional experience in the film industry while also continuing her research. So, she contacted Cinememoria, the nonprofit cultural organization that hosts the EDOC film festival, and proposed a collaboration. With the support of her advisor Cecilia Enjuto Rangel (Romance Languages) and professor Gabriela Martínez (Journalism, Cinema Studies), Mariko was awarded the Dixon Graduate Innovation Award in order to pursue this year abroad.

From October through the culmination of the festival in June, Mariko participated in the day to day building of the festival’s XIV edition. As part of the programming team, she worked with directors and distribution companies in the process of incorporating films in the festival. Among other highlights were working in the video archives and collaborating with Manolo Sarmiento (Cinememoria, executive director) on a grant proposal for the EDOC Online Film Archive Platform, a project for which the UO Digital Scholarship Center provided significant guidance.

Mariko at the film festival inaugural ceremony.

Mariko at the film festival inaugural ceremony.

Mariko explains that working for the festival opened her eyes to the tense balance between the routine tasks and the decisive taking of political sides that go into crafting a cultural event like EDOC. True to the 2015 festival slogan, “Ver la realidad te cambia,” Mariko describes the festival program as impacting. The lineup revealed global instability, a sort of “champú caótico,” as the festival director describes: from Citizenfour and the Snowden revelations to We Come as Friends and neocolonialism in South Sudan, the films expose an entangled battlefield of global powers. Sarmiento states, “estamos saliendo de la hegemonía americana ya desde hace bastantes años y todavía no está claro quién va a ser el nuevo hegemónico, tal vez no lo haya . . .” (February, 2015).

On a note that dialogues with Mariko’s examination of ethics and time in Latin American documentary films, during the opening ceremony Snowden thanked Poitras and documentary filmmakers around the world, explaining, “we have a better world because of the work you do.” He also mentioned that he feels a “special fondness” for Latin America because it is one of the first regions “to stand up and say no, things have to change.” According to Mariko, Snowden’s audience was attentive and excited, abuzz with the significance of this conversation at both a national level and worldwide. Other memorable aspects of the festival included a master class with directors Alan Berliner and Hubert Sauper, leading Q/A sessions with directors Berliner, Firouzeh Khosrovani, and Mateo Herrera, and writing for the festival catalog and periodical.

Mariko Plescia interviewing Firouzeh Khosrovani at EDOC 2015 film festival.

Mariko Plescia interviewing Firouzeh Khosrovani at EDOC 2015 film festival.

Pulling together the festival experience with her research on Latin American documentary film, Mariko made a short film (El otro cine) about EDOC and its historical impact on the audiovisual field in Ecuador. Along with a small cinematic crew, she interviewed the founding members of Cinememoria, filmmakers, fans, and public functionaries in the cultural sector, including the director of Ecuadorian National Cinema Council and the rector of the National University of the Arts, Guayaquil. These conversations allowed Mariko to address her burning questions to the filmmakers and to better understand how the industry (from funding to distribution) contributes to the meaning of the films. El otro cine was shown as part of the UO, Oregon State and Portland State University Cine-Lit VIII International Conference on Hispanic Film and Fiction in February, 2014.

Back at UO, Mariko is busy integrating this rich period of research into her dissertation writing and looks forward to sharing her reflections on two Ecuadorian films at the American Comparative Literature Association 2016 Conference. She also continues to edit the interview material for a short video to incorporate in Spanish and Latin American Cinema classes here at the University of Oregon. Mariko says that after seeing Citizenfour she is more conscious of what she types into the google search engine; but thanks to Snowden and brave filmmakers like those represented at EDOC14, she is also more motivated to develop a strong critical voice through her work as a UO graduate student.

Inaugural ceremony of EDOC 2015 film festival.

Inaugural ceremony of EDOC 2015 film festival.

January 27, 2016

Costales presents bilingual children’s books at Canby Public Library

costales 01Through funding from the American Library Association (ALA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), Canby Public Library is one of four Oregon Libraries to present an extensive program exploring Latino experiences in the United States. On Thursday, February 25 at 6:30 pm, bilingual children’s author and Senior Instructor of Spanish Amy Costales will tell stories, speak about the importance of Spanish heritage language and the creative writing process.

costales 02

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.

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