Organization of Graduate Students in Comparative Literature
Spring 2001

Contents

A Tribute to Sally Lawall / Reflections on ALANA Enrollment / Notes from the Department Chair /
Anita on Mentoring / Incoming Students / Notes and News

Blue Fright Wig, No Attitude: A Tribute to Sally Lawall
by Dale Hudson

Sally Lawall was on Sabbatical in the fall of 1997, my first semester in the department. She was working on the seventh edition the Norton Anthology of World Masterpieces, a completely revised version of the anthology for which she was the new general editor. So I didn’t get to meet her until the holiday party—and then only briefly as she was surrounded by faculty members from other departments who kept referring to her as ‘the famous one’. As you can imagine, I was quite excited to know that I would be one of Sally’s TAs the following semester. After the party, Bill Moebius told me that I should know one thing about Sally before I TAed for her: she has an incredible sense of humor. By the end of the semester, I had no doubt, especially on the first of April, when Sally arrived for lecture wearing a blue ‘fright wig’.

As unexpected as Sally’s humor can be, it pales in comparison with her generosity, intelligence, and integrity. Yes, it is true that she keeps a clock whose hands move counterclockwise in her office to disconcert unsuspecting students (myself included) in the manner of the Surrealists, but she also keeps a supply of jellybeans and M&Ms. Now, candy may seem a strange measure of generosity, but allow me to explain. When I arrived in the department, there wasn’t a graduate student organization, so I didn’t have the opportunity to meet many of my colleagues. Also, at that time, we didn’t have separate offices for TAs.  Sally was incredibly generous and allowed Corinne Oster and myself to use her office. During my office hours, I would have frequent visits from Anita Mannur, who later confessed that it wasn’t so much that she was being nice to me, the ‘new student’, but that she was hungry for Sally’s jellybeans and M&Ms. Anita had taken Sally’s “Theory and Practice of Comparative Literature” class the previous year, and was evidently suffering withdrawal symptoms from the weekly supply of freshly baked cakes and cookies that Sally provided. Of course, Corinne and I were enjoying such baked goods at our weekly TA meetings with Sally, so we didn’t need to eat the candy. (Honestly, Sally, it was Anita who ate it—not us!) It also was during that semester that I learned the basis for my own pedagogy from Sally, both from watching her in the classroom and from our weekly meetings during which we discussed everything from grading standards to clever nicknames for not-so-clever students.

What I was later to learn about Sally is that she possesses a dignity that is somewhat rare in academia. Recently, for example, a young scholar in Argentina sent a message to a list of more than 100 academics in North America, asking them if they might supply copies of their recent publications to be read on a radio program. A well-known Italianist, whose work I admire(d), hit ‘reply to all’ with the message, “I request that you purchase anything I write… that will make you value it more.” Perhaps, he was trying to be funny, but I was mortified. How could a tenured professor be so vulgar? And to send such vulgarity to hundreds of his own colleagues— che schifoso ! I thought: Flaubert’s insight that we shouldn’t touch our idols because the gilt comes off on our hands shouldn’t be dismissed as the ravings of a recluse strung out on caffeine. Of course, this doesn’t apply to Sally. She has brought international recognition to our department with her Critics of Consciousness, her edited volumes Découverte de l'essai and Reading World Literature, her numerous articles and translations, as well as her editorial work for Comparative Literature and Norton. Last semester alone, I found references to her work and acknowledgments to her in everything from Terry Eagleton’s introduction to literary theory to an English translation of a work by Michel Foucault. Browsing through bookshops, I find her quoted on book jackets. Never does she play the diva. Never does she send psychotic emails to strangers, demanding they buy her books.

So, it is with profound admiration and respect that I compose this tribute to Sally. Personally, I would like to thank her for taking me on as an advisee, for patiently reading at least 50 ‘practice’ areas before I settled on six for my exams, for listening to even my most insane notions about dissertations, and for exposing me to countless critical and theoretical essays, countless stories, poems, and novels. I thank her for the wonderful seminars in Symbolism and Surrealism, two semesters of working as a TA for her “International Short Story” class, for wearing a blue ‘fright wig’ to class, and for keeping jellybeans and M&Ms in her office, so that I could make friends with the other grad students.

Reflections on ALANA enrollment
by Bunkong Tuon

I am writing this because the issue personally affects me. I am talking about the recent decline of the ALANA (African, Latino, Asian, Native-American) student enrollment here in the University.

At first, I will give a brief outline of my experiences as a student of color in a predominately white public school. It is my hope that this autobiographical sketch will clarify the politics behind the decline of ALANA students in the University and urge the ethically conscious to get involved in the struggle against perpetual, institutional oppression.

I attended a public high school where I was one of the few Cambodian students in the four grade levels. The majority of the students, staff, and teachers was white. This lack of representation and identification in the social realm left me feeling uncomfortable, “not at home,” in the learning environment. In effect, I did not want to learn. My great desire during that time was to leave school.   I detested the school authority figures as well as my fellow classmates. Of course, I did poorly, academically and socially, in high school. My future was bleak.

Looking back at my high school years, however, I notice a strong connection between politics and education. Allow me to further elaborate on this, if I may.

Education is always political.  It is a social institution that scans, monitors, and ultimately places the individual into a particular section of the society’s social and economic stratum.  If the individual performs poorly in the education institution, then at best he will find a low-paying job.  If he does perform exceptionally well in school, then high-paying jobs will assure his future.  Of course, there are those who have connections because they are born into wealthy families.  Nevertheless, no matter which angle you are coming from, the three cases highlight the same foundation of our educational system: it resides in the political realm.

Therefore, to prevent many ALANA students from enrolling in the University by implementing new admission policies for standardized test scores and high school GPAs, decreasing ALANA funding, and creating a referendum that threatens the ALANA appointed seats in the Student Senate is to keep these students of color from the possibility of achieving favorable positions in society.  Or to put it bluntly, it is a subtle way of keeping minorities in the margins of the economic, social, and political landscape. In this light, it is clearly seen that such admission policies reinforce a larger institutional structure which disadvantage members of society based on race, class and ethnicity.

Because I did poorly in high school, after graduation, I worked for a maintenance company where I mopped the floors of offices, private schools and navy yard at 3 o’clock in the morning. This is an example of how an ethnic minority may be prevented from obtaining a high-paying and less-physically demanding job.  Furthermore, if there are few students of color in colleges and universities, then there will be fewer teachers of color in the public schools.  Consequently, the students of color in these public schools have no one with whom they could identify, with whom they could project the possibility of the realization of their hopes and dreams, and with whom they could feel comfortable and “at home.”    As a result, it would not be a striking surprise if some of these minority students perform poorly in school, have low GPAs, and acquire low scores in such standardized tests as the SAT, TOEFL, that would decrease their chance of being admitted to colleges and universities.  I won’t further belabor the social, political, and cyclical ramifications of this statement.

In conclusion, I have nothing but praise and admiration for ALANA students who protest against this institutional oppression, or as Juan Flores calls it, “lite colonialism.”  They stormed into Whitmore administration building protesting the decline of ALANA students.  In one protest, they placed duct tape on their mouth, symbolizing the systematic elimination of the students of color as well as the denial of their voice by the administration.  In another powerful symbolic protest, they built a mock cemetery beside the Student Union building where each tombstone represents an ALANA student who could not attend the University because of the newly implemented policies.  It is my hope that by writing this column, I am bringing the issue of politics and education, of “lite” oppression, to a broader audience, thereby calling for all of us to get involved and protest against any form of oppression, whether local or global.

Notes from the Department Chair
by Bill Moebius

Whenever an academic year passes, we all realize, I think, that we ourselves have changed, if only slightly. We’ve read old literary or film texts in new ways or discovered new texts altogether; we’ve become aware that despite the many frustrations that accompany academic life, including all the thankless and time-consuming tasks that technology seems to multiply, we have, after all, added value to the lives of other people, through our teaching and research, through our advising and our availability to other people, a time commitment for which there is no accounting, and yet which measures up to some general expectation that each of us, faculty and graduate students, are there for each other and for our majors and our non-majors, for our colleagues and fellow graduate students in the College of Humanities and Fine Arts, and for those in other colleges and universities around the world.

In the Department of Comparative Literature, we have seen change this year in large and small ways. In September, along with a group of very talented new graduate students, we welcomed Lucien Miller to the post of Graduate Program Director for the year, and we have all been gratified to see how energetically and resourcefully and thoughtfully he has assumed this nearly impossible task. In October, we celebrated the successes of one of the most lively Departments of Comparative Literature in the U.S. with a two day 30th birthday party, welcoming back  alumni/ae like Chantal Zabus and Theo D’Haen, Michael Liang and Christina Ortmeier-Hooper, and seeing or hearing from an astonishing 75 alumni-ae from our earliest days as a department as well as our most recent.

 Since those moments in September and October, 2000, we have watched new graduate students become seasoned graduate students, and seasoned graduate students finish their degrees. We have seen the creation and refinement of new courses at the graduate and undergraduate level, thanks to the vision and ingenuity of both faculty and graduate students (Dale Hudson, Anita Mannur and Craig Sinclair, to name a few) and we have been very proud to see our graduate students, while still writing dissertations or preparing for their Comps, assume teaching posts at M.I.T. and Smith as well as in Women’s Studies, Commonwealth College and the Departments of French and Italian and Spanish and Portuguese at UMass.  We have also been very pleased and proud to add to our roster of “Associated Faculty” Professor Daniel Gordon of the Department of History, and Professor Luis Marentes of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese.

Administrators like to roll numbers around; ours continue to be among the most stable in the College of Humanities and Fine Arts, as the various ten-year reports issued by the Office of Institutional Research clearly show. While larger departments such as History and Philosophy have seen declines of 24.2% and 15.4 % in “headcount majors,” the Department of Comparative Literature has registered 0% change. While both History and Philosophy are showing a 15% and 13% decline, respectively, in FTE (student/faculty ratios) over the past 6 years, Comparative Literature is showing but a 1% decline, despite the increasing demands on Comparative Literature faculty for university related service, not to mention calls for professional activity all over the world. While English, History and Philosophy are all showing significant increases in educational expenditures per FTE instructed student over the past ten years (14.2%, 46.7% and 17.8%, respectively) Comparative Literature is holding costs down, showing an increase of only 6.1% over ten years.

At this time of year, it is always difficult to see our favorite students leave for the next stages of their careers. Some of our students leave before finishing their degrees; some have left with the M.A., to pursue the doctorate elsewhere, and some, like Roger Stritmatter and Fredericka Von Schwerin-High have finished just this past year. We wish them well, knowing that eventually some of us will meet at professional meetings, if not on the streets of New York or L.A. At this year’s annual meeting of the American Comparative Literature Association in Boulder, Colorado, it was wonderful to see Jana Braziel, (Ph.D., 2000) now an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire out on the dance floor at the Saturday evening banquet, rubbing shoes and shoulders with Judith Butler and Jonathan Culler, among others.

The Chancellor, the Provost, and the Vice-Chancellor for Development have all stepped down this year, but after a relatively short period of service, we cannot yet feel the impact of their rather hasty departures. The retirement of Sally Lawall, on the other hand, one of the mainstays of this Department for over 25 years, carries with it a modicum of sadness and loss for those of us who have valued her as a colleague and mentor to so many of our most outstanding graduates. The retirement of such a beacon (Sally has kept many ships from foundering) brings, as well, a call for renewal. While we are awaiting authorization to hire a replacement (and not this year, due to continued budgetary constraints at the Dean’s level), we might ponder the example of a teacher so generous with her time and resources, so modest, so witty and ironic, and so dedicated to the cause of comparative literature. Her scholarly openness and directness, her dedication to the widening of the circle of what constitutes literature, culminating in the editorship of the Norton Anthology of World Literature, have left a mark on many more lives than we could conjure up on this campus over the past three decades. Sally has earned her retirement, but those of us who know her don’t expect her to take it easy.

In an academic year that brought us 55 graduate applicants, (over 35 applicants last year) and confirmed acceptances from students from Morocco, Romania, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Argentina, India and China as well as the U.S., I would like to remind us of one of our strengths as a Department and as a field or interdiscipline of Comparative Literature by quoting  Dipesh Chakrabarty of the Department of History at the University of Chicago, in an article published in 1998 in the journal Public Culture:

“Bilinguality, or even multilinguality, is thus a critical weapon in the struggle for many-centered worlds, provided we realize that there is no inherent contradiction between being able to imagine the world in many different languages and engaging with the ‘deep tradition’ that each of these languages may claim to embody. By ‘bilinguality’ or multilinguality’ (...) I mean the capacity to experience, and equally important, the capacity to express the world in the two languages concerned (that is, to be able to participate in the life-forms to which the languages belong). It is hard to set up any fixed standards here for, obviously, one’s capacity to be creative in a language is not crucially dependent on one’s mastery of it. But I am talking of literary --- though not necessarily canonized -- creativity, the capacity to engage affectionately with the poetics of a language (which, I may add, is not necessarily an elite activity.).”

A rose by any other name… I wish you all a pleasant and multilingual summer.

Living Large in Boston? Anita’s Year Away….
by Anita Mannur

As many of you know, I’ve been away in Boston this past year. So when Beverly asked me to write about that experience, I thought I’d write about teaching at MIT or Harvard, but then voted those ideas down. Instead, I decided to write on something that has meant a lot more to me—my experiences as a mentor for an organization called Project Impact. Ever since I’ve been in the United States, I’ve lived in spaces that rotate around college life, so I was sort of excited to be moving to a city that has more to offer. And of course, my secret joy was that I’d be around people of color! As an Asian Americanist, I was thrilled to be moving to a city with a large Asian population. So, when a fellow UMASS student living in Boston mentioned Project Impact, a South Asian community based organization that runs a mentoring program I jumped at the chance to get involved. I signed up to be part of the mentoring program bubbling with enthusiasm and excitement that I’d be doing something useful, being involved in the community with other young, brown folk. What could be better? (The added incentive that I might get to meet some attractive and eligible brown men is completely irrelevant….)

I went through a fairly rigorous training session and was eventually paired up with a high school freshman. Born and raised in Somerville, Dipali’s parents emigrated from India in the 1980’s. They own an Indian grocery store and live in a working class neighborhood in Somerville in a second floor apartment next to their store. Dipali is the oldest of three children, she attends public high school in a working class, immigrant neighborhood and she is the busiest 14 year old I’ve ever met in my life. In addition to going to school full time and working on a fabulous science project, and working in youth leadership seminars, and taking summer courses for girls in the sciences at MIT she also works about 30 hours a week at the family store. Sometimes just thinking how much she does makes me feel tired. On the surface of it, she seems to be very well adjusted and has her act together. She knows what she wants in life, and she knows how she will go about getting what she wants. In fact, as her mentor, I’ve often thought that I don’t really have a lot to offer. But over time, I’ve come to realize that there are ways that we both learn from each other. Even though we’ve had our ups and downs, our relationship has meant a lot to both of us. I went in with all kinds of grand ideas that I would meet up with her every Saturday and take her to the Institute of Contemporary Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, cultural shows and all the rest. In reality, none of those activities were even remotely interesting to her, and we ended up doing things like watching the Matrix and going to a Celtics basketball game at the Fleet Center. I wanted to teach her about art and film; instead I learned all about Keanu Reeve’s fascinating career and just how far back one stands in order to make a “free throw.” I am constantly surprised, and that is just part of the way mentoring works. Just last week, I asked her if she wanted to come with me to work on “Take Our Daughters to Work Day” and she actually thought it’d be “so kewl” to do this! I was sure this would be thoroughly boring to her and the idea would be shot down at once. Even though we never actually did anything that day, she has been bugging me ever since to let her visit my class because she is curious how a women’s studies class works at MIT!

Don’t get me wrong. Mentoring is rewarding, but it is hard work. At times I feel like I would rather hit my head repeatedly on an abrasive concrete surface, but it is the little moments that I’ve come to appreciate. The little moments, when she tells me something is “so kewl” or that she is now more interested in knowing what gender studies is all about—those are the “kewlest”! In all, I spent a total of 6-8 hours a month with Dipali. It wasn’t all exciting and fun. Sometimes it was downright difficult. (Again, I remind you of that concrete surface…) But nonetheless, it was a positive experience and something that I can feel proud of. It is hard to articulate exactly what it is, but I know that just knowing that there is someone she can talk to who has gone through similar experiences in life means a lot to her. Even when our mentees come from loving and stable homes, their parents don’t always understand how racism and sexism affects their lives. But at the same time, the parents are more willing to let their children participate in such a program because they realize that our generation has something to offer their teenage children. Now granted, Dipali and I come from very different worlds. I led a very privileged life. I mean, I never worked until I started college; she works every single day. I went to a private high school where my friends were either children of diplomats or government officials; she goes to a public school where her friends are immigrants from Haiti and India who might not always speak English fluently. But nevertheless, there is something that allows us to forge a bond. We’re both brats for instance. Our brattiness just takes different forms…

As my year in Boston draws to a rapid close, I realize that I’ve learned a good deal more about what I do, and why I do it through my involvement with Project Impact. Being an Asian Americanist is not some abstract thing that can be understood solely by reading books by authors and theorists; one needs to think through the practical realities of how race and gender inform our lives. It is thus with more than a touch of sadness that I leave Somerville—the place that has been my home for the last nine months.  Thanks to email and IM, I’ll be able to stay in touch, and hopefully see how Dipali grows. She will hopefully stay in the program and be paired up with someone else, and hopefully I’ll continue to stay involved in other ways.

So, in some sense, and as cliché as it sounds, I guess this is my way of emphasizing the need for us as graduate students, and for us in academia to be involved with the communities in which we live. We often feel that our lives are so busy, and we are not incorrect. But even within all the pressures on our time, I think we can all perhaps find a way to do something for the communities that we live in. Sure, it looks good on your resume, but that’s not, and should not be, the only reason to do it. For me, at least, it has given me the chance to appreciate the diversity of this community in which I live, and to think about where and how I can learn from the people that live around me. And since I abide by the egocentric notion that is really is “all about me”, it has also been a great way for me to learn more about my strengths, my limitations and myself. And of course as a result of my involvement with PI, I’ve met some awesome people. In fact, a standing joke, has been that the mentors spend more time with each other than with our respective mentees….

If you are interesting in becoming involved with mentoring, check out the website: http://www.mentoring.org
 
 

New Graduate Admissions for Fall 2001
by Dale Hudson

We would like to welcome new (and returning) students in the MA, MA in Translation, and MA/Ph.D. programs in Comparative Literature.

Born in Bangalore, India, Prateeti Ballal of Princeton, New Jersey will be rejoining the department this year in order to complete her Ph.D. Her research focuses on “the intersections of imperialism and Romanticism in a comparative context in the nineteenth century by looking at British, American, and Indian writers.”  She has published numerous articles, both academic and technical (software), as well as translations. She works in English, French, and Sanskrit. Prateeti has been awarded an Opportunity Fellowship by the University.

Lucinda Casamassino joins us from the University of Connecticut, where she worked toward a Ph.D. in Italian and Comparative Literature and where she received an “100 Years of Women” award in 1998.  She received both a BA and an MA in Italian from Florida State University. Her current research focuses on the playwright Dario Fo. Lucinda worked as a TA in Italian at UMass last year.

Nikolina Dobreva enters the MA/Ph.D. program from the Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, where she received an MA in English. Born in Moscow, she lived in Bulgaria and received a BS from Sofia University.  Her languages include English, French, Russian, Spanish, Macedonian, and Serbian. Her research centers on “writers who stand between two languages and two cultures,” with her undergraduate thesis on Assia Djebar.  Nikolina has been awarded a TA in Comparative Literature.

From Zhengzhoa, People’s Republic of China, Lan Dong joins the MA/Ph.D. program from Dartmouth in New Hampshire.  She received a BA from Peking University in Comparative Literature and World Literature, with an emphasis on German and Chinese literatures.At Dartmouth, she focused on Asian American studies, particularly immigrant identity as it intersects with location and gender.  Lan has been awarded a TA in Comparative Literature.

A teacher at the Eagle Hill School for the past four years, Shannon Farley of Amherst joins the MA program.She received a BA from William College in Classics and History. Her senior thesis was entitled “Dionysus: The God Brings Moderation.” Shannon enters the program while continuing to teach full-time at the Eagle Hill School.

Roberto Gracia-Garcia joins the MA in Translation program from Alicante , Spain. He received a licenciatura in English Philology, specifically in the area of translation and interpretation, from the Universidad de Alicante. He has also worked as a research assistant for the School of Medicine at the Universidad Miguel Hernández in Elche, Spain.  Roberto has been awarded a TA in Spanish.

After seven years as an instructor of English at the Universidad de Buenos Aires in Argentina, Peter Kahn returns to New England to join the MA in Translation program.  He received a BA in English from the University of Michigan, has published numerous translations of books and articles, and has generated subtitles for numerous films. His languages include English, Spanish, Portuguese, and French. Peter has been awarded a TCCL (Translation Center-Comparative Literature) fellowship.

Raised in Milford, Massachusetts, Adam LaMontagne joins the MA in Translation program from Davis, California. He received a BA in French and International Relations from the College of William and Mary, where he also worked as a TA in French. He has taught English at the French Ministry of Education/Académie de Caen and at the Lycée Alain in Alençon , France.   His interests include language, culture, and international relations.

Liu Xiaoqing has been interested in translation since age four.  She joins the MA in Translation program from Shandong, People’s Republic of China.She received a BA in English from Yantai Teachers College and an MA in English from Tianjun Foreign Studies University, where she attended a series of lectures given by Prof. Maria Tymoczko of our department.  Xiaoqing has been awarded a TCCL (Translation Center-Comparative Literature) fellowship.

Christopher Michalski joins the MA/Ph.D. program from Port Collins, Colorado.  From Liverpool, New York, he received a BA in Spanish and German from McGill University and did graduate work in German at Queen’s University, Canada.  More recently, he worked as an ESL instructor in Austria and Russia.Christopher has been awarded a TA in Comparative Literature.

Born in Rabat, Morocco and currently living in Sunderland, Massachusetts, Meriem Pagès joins the MA program.  She received a BA in medieval studies at Mount Holyoke College and an MA in medieval history at Stanford University.  As an undergraduate at Mount Holyoke, she taught winter session courses in representations of Islam in mainstream cinema and elementary Arabic.  Her current research includes “literary constructions inherent to historical sources.”

Yoací Pardo-Dominguez joins the MA program from Mexico City, México.  She received a BA in English Literature from UNAM in México, where last year she organized a National Symposium of Scatology. Her interests include a “semiotic analysis of the monster as animated character” in children’s literature and anime. Yoací has been awarded a TA in Spanish.

From Yantai, People’s Republic of China, Sun Hong-mei joins the MA/Ph.D. program from Beijing, where she received a BA in English from the Beijing Second Language Institute and an MA in Comparative Literature from Peking University.  Her foreign languages include English, German, French, some Latin and ancient Greek, and she worked for five years as a translator in the public sector.  Hong-mei’s current interest include translations of fables, particularly the Chinese reception of Aesop, and the “cultural factors underlying the translations.”

Finally, we welcome Enrique Garcia and Mariela Mendez into the MA/Ph.D. program.  Both Enrique and Mariela are familiar to all of us from the MA program, and both have been awarded a TA in Comparative Literature.

NB: Apologies in advance for any typos, ‘original’ spellings, or other inaccuracies—DH.

Graduate Student News and Profiles
by ourselves

Iris Bonaldo Interests:  Medieval Studies, Translation, Modern Fiction.   I am also very interested in studying Films (although this is obviously in direct conflict with my interests in Medieval Studies, as Prof. Levine et al. are always teaching at the same time as Prof. Maddox et al.)  I also took a class on Books and Images, and my paper was accidentally published in the 02/2000 issue of the Notebooks of the Interdepartmental Exchange. It is quite unlikely that anyone has seen it since apart from my own copy, most of the other issues are in a box in Prof. Moebius's office/depot. This might strike you as not being the very best of marketing strategies so let me just say that the magazines are now on sale and the price is down from 10$ to 7$.  (Of course, there are articles other than mine in the magazine and perhaps you should ask where the money goes before you pay.)   Other than this, I am going to a Medieval Conference in July 2001 in Santiago de Compostela, where I should present a paper for which I so far have a happy promising title:  "From Dante to Chaucer: Translating Architectonics."   My three favorite authors are Dante, Chaucer, and James Joyce.  I would be very happy to present a paper on Joyce in the near future. (I have one written already.)  I collect books.

Caroline Dothée’s interests include:Music and literature, verbal and visual representation, post-structuralism and literary theory, modernism/postmodernism.
Lilian Feitosa This year started in a nice way for me because I spent the whole month of January in warm and sunny Brazil teaching English for 2 weeks and resting for a bit in the next week or so. Before that, I went to Washington DC to “check the MLA out” – it was an interesting experience (even though the only person I knew there was Bill; well… at least I knew someone!). When I came back from Brazil, besides having to put up with all that snow and working, I was very busy at home because we moved from Amherst to Granby in the beginning of March. Now, I have to get ready for the other exciting things that are coming up this year, from papers to present to comps to another trip to Brazil in August for my brother’s wedding.

In June I’ll be presenting my paper “Girls and Dolls in La Comtesse de Ségur’s & Louisa May Alcott’s Trilogies: A Bridge Between 19th Century France and the United States” at the Children’s Literature Association “Bridges” conference in Bufallo NY. Then, in November, I’ll be joining the Word and Image group from UMass to present the paper “Pretty Girls and Nappy Hair – Translating Word, Image and Race in Menina Bonita do Laço de Fita” at the interdepartmental Word and Image conference in Belgium.

I’m also working on my comps, which I will be taking in September.  My research interests are: feminist analysis of ‘classic’ books for girls (from the Anglo-American world and Brazil) and their illustrations; Brazilian women writers translated into English; issues of beauty, race and national identity in the representation of Brazilian women and their images in picture books and the media; the definition and formation of a national (and racial) identity through music in Brazil and the USA; and a comparison between Ségur and Alcott’s trilogies. That’s all folks.

Enrique Garcia will be presenting at the Word/Image conference in Belgium along with several other Comp Lit students next fall.   His paper addresses the representation of American imperialism in Cuban and Puerto Rican comic books.  He will also be presenting two papers at NECLAS, including a paper on the use of the female body in Socialist nationalism in Cuban film.  Next semester (when Enrique finally leaves campus for big bad Amherst) he will be once again be organizing the Cuban Film Festival.  He is hoping for an award (or a cookie) because he has given more guest lectures than anybody else in the department!

Shuchen S. Huang Born in Taipei, Taiwan, Shuchen S. Huang received her Bachelor degree at National Chengchi University. She studied at Freiburg University, Germany, from 1991 to 1994. Since 1995, she has been a Ph.D. student in the Comparative Literature Department at University of Massachusetts in Amherst. Besides studying, she has also taught as a teaching assistant in the East Asian Languages and Literatures Department, Comp. Lit. Department and Women's Studies Program. She passed her comprehensive exams in 1999. She has been awarded a fellowship by University of Massachusetts for this academic year (Fall 2000-Spring 2001). Her essays will appear in Asian American Autobiographers: A Bio-bibliographical Critical Sourcebook edited by Guiyou Huang and Asian American Playwrights: A Bio-bibliographical Critical Sourcebook by Miles X. Liu. Currently, she is writing her dissertation on ethnicity and domesticity (while her baby girl is playing under the desk).

*Editor’s Note:  See the picture of Sasha on this page!

Yehudit Heller has been busy preparing for her comps while helping her son prepare for his first year at college next year!  She will also be presenting in Belgium; her paper will be about the practice of naming.  She also presented at Borderlands this spring.  Yehudit introduced her collaborative work with Shahid Ali to the Five Colleges Literary Translation Seminar.  A new translation of a poem by Ali has been published in the Literary Journal. And -- very exciting -- a new collection of poetry has been accepted for publication in Israel!

Dale Hudson Dale successfully completed his comprehensive exams this semester. He also presented a paper entitled "Vampiric ambivalence: undead myths, new media, and performance alterity" at the Borderlands conference in March. He is currently working on his dissertation prospectus.

Dale would also like to thank everyone in the department for their advice, assistance, and attendance at the complit@2000~JuniorYearWriting colloquium last December. The full-day event included sixteen papers on topics from literature and film to popular culture, myth, and religion. Six panels were chaired, graciously and professionally, by Enrique, Mariela, Corinne, Alix, Jennifer, and Beverly. Special thanks to Bill, Linda, Alice, Anita, Jennifer, and Jonathan for their help in the planning and organization, and to Bill and David for attending so many of the panels. The undergraduate majors found the opportunity to present their research and to receive feedback invaluable. They commented that it was "more rewarding than just receiving a final grade." Dale hopes to see even more departmental participation, esp. at the faculty level, at the JYW2001 colloquium.

Anita Mannur Anita is wrapping up her stint as an underpaid lecturer at MIT at the end of May. She has been teaching "Race and Gender in Asian America". She also was a thesis reader for the Committee on Degrees in Women's Studies at Harvard.

Along with scores of other OGSCL members, she presented a paper, "Culinary Alterities" at the Borderlands conference and a paper titled "Culinary-scapes: Food and Authenticity in Asian America" as part of the history faculty reading series at MIT. She has also been volunteering with Project Impact a mentoring program in Boston designed to connect South Asian Americans in high school with young well adjusted South Asian professionals. She has found, however, that she spends more time drinking and salsa-dancing with the other mentors (especially the attractive ones) than she does with her mentee. Two of her essays on South Asian children's writings were recently published in Bookbird, and if you have any pretensions of going to read it, the library does not carry this journal! Oh yes, and she is also writing her dissertation.

Corinne Oster Interests: Film & Cultural studies, Translation, Fantastic literature, Psychoanalysis, Music.

I am presently teaching a short story class, and I started to write my dissertation on the new representations of marginality on recent French women's film last semester. I hope to have 2 full chapters down by the end of this semester.

News: I presented a paper entitled: "Decoding Unreadable Spaces: Strategies of (De-) localization in French Women's Cinema" at the Umass Borderlands Conference (Dept. of Communication) at the end of the month.

Alix Paschkowiak I am presenting at the 36th Annual Conference for Medieval Studies in Kalamazoo, Michigan in May (this will be my second time to present at this venue). The winter issue of the Midwest Quarterly contains one of my poems. I am preparing for my exams.

Fernando Perez

Paper presentations:

•"Gabriela Mistral - Poetics of Displacement," in the Borderlands conference.

•A paper on Ezra Pound's Cantos to be presented in June at the Sorbonne (Paris).

•A presentation in July as guest speaker in a seminar on writing and skepticism conducted by the Chilean philosopher Pablo Oyarzun in Valparaiso (Chile) entitled "Shakespeare's inventions (from the Romantics to Borges)".

Recent Publications:

•"Presentacion de Patricio Marchant", in the last issue of VERTEBRA (November 2000).

•Some notes on recent Chilean poetry in the forthcoming issue of VERTEBRA (probably September 2001).

•"Escenas de Adolfo Couve", on a Chilean writer/painter, submitted for publication in CORMORAN (Chile).

Jennifer Rodgers is in her last year as a Comparative Literature PhD candidate, and is anxious to complete and defend her dissertation, which she's calling Magic Realism and Social Protest in the Americas. Beware of asking her why she prefers the term "magic realism" to "magical realism" because it's hard to shut her up once she gets going. This semester, she presented a paper called "A Paradox of Cannibals: Magic Realism and the Artistic Politics of the Border" at the Borderlands conferenced hosted by the Comm department.  She's also been applying for jobs and trying to figure out a plan for her future.

Craig Sinclair This semester I've been trying to combine mainstream journalism with academic style, in order to break the news media (in every sense). Thus I've been writing an assortment of articles to send out en masse this summer about Foot 'n' Mouth Disease/ Chocolate Smuggling and the links between drug use primordial culture, addiction and eating habits. I'm researching the use of substances in contemporary culture and the effect of borders in terms of disease carrying, just too late for the Borderlands conference.

Of the more regular academic papers I've written, I'm currently shopping for journals for a piece on the New German Cinema and a paper I gave at the first Annual Mark Roskill Symposium. I asked the assembled art historians to reconsider the idea that Film might be Art by presenting a paper "In the Realm of the Censors", that itself asked whether Nagisa Oshima's In the Realm of the Senses was artistic, pornographic, obscene or just plain feminist.

As well as doing some more work on Post everything culture this summer I'm planning on getting back into the whole film-making business with a collaborative piece with some of UMass' theater department and am building a website about various activist issues.

Beverly Weber also completed her exams this semester. I am recovering – some gardening in the sun in Southern California greatly helped! I've taught a comic book for the first time, thanks to all of Enrique's propaganda – and much needed assistance. I am now beginning work on my dissertation, organizing the Women’s Studies students, working on designing a Women’s Studies orientation, and plotting with Anita and Dale a grand conspiracy which you will all hear about soon!

Presentations this semester:

•"Imagining the Nation: Nation and Sexuality in Turkish German Literature." Women's Studies Lecture Series, Feminist Issues in Methodology, University of Masachusetts, Amherst.

•"(Dis)Locating Self: Mapping Berlin in Turkish-German Works." Borderlands:  Remapping Zones of Cultural Practice and Representation. University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

•"Of Woman and Nation:  Nationality and Sexuality in Emine Sevgi Özdamar's Die Brücke vom goldenen Horn," NEMLA 2001.

Accepted for Publication this semester: "A Literature of Theory: Christa Wolf's Kassandra Lectures as Feminist Anti-Poetics," German Quarterly, forthcoming. Co-authored with Prof. Thomas Beebee of the Pennsylvania State University.

 

Newsletter Editors: Dale Hudson, Anita Mannur, Alix Paschkowiak, Bunkong Tuon and Beverly Weber

Layout: Beverly Weber

Our Gracious and Thorough Copy-Editor: Jen Rodgers
 
 

Email addresses and electronic version available online at:

http://www.umass.edu/complit/ogscl