Tag Archives: Spanish

Student Snapshot

Over the last few weeks, we have shared with you some of the material we would normally tell you about at an open day. Dr Simon Kemp, Tutor in French and Co-Director of Outreach, gave us a video overview of what it’s like to study modern languages at Oxford… but do the current students agree?

We asked three current undergraduates to tell us a little bit about their experience of studying languages with us: Dalveen is in her first year studing Spanish and Linguistics; Alex is in his second year studying French and History; Charlotte also studies French and History and is in her final year. Here they give us a glimpse of what Oxford has been like through their eyes.

Spanish Flash Fiction: Commended Stories

Image by Manfred Richter from Pixabay

Today we bring you the final collection of stories from this year’s Spanish Flash Fiction competition, having seen the winners, runners up, and highly commended entries in the last couple of months. Here we have some of the commended stories. A huge well done to everyone who took part in the competition and particularly to those who were commended by the judges.

Reminiscencia de mi abuelo

Una sonrisa infantil brillaba en su cara, tan inocente, a pesar de la frente arrugada y la piel envejecida. Sus ojos llenos de mil tonos de azul admiraban el paisaje perfectamente imperfecto. En su expresión, había una pura alegría de vivir – estaba sentado en un banco precario, acurrucado, los rayos del sol cayendo sobre su frágil piel manchada de pecas. Contaba historias, como si fuera un niño liberado de las cargas de la vida.
Años después, me siento en el mismo banco; sin embargo, todavía siento su presencia, a pesar de que él no está aquí.

(Flora Moayed, Year 10)

Una Noche En Madrid

Madrid. Las calles estaban llenas de color. Deliciosos olores vagaban por el aire. El ajetreo u bullicio ruidoso de las noches hizo que las calles cobraran vida. Fuera de un restaurante, se sentó una niña sabor de sus churros riquísimos. El azúcar cubrió sus labios que lamió con deleite. Las farolas eran estrellas que guiaban el camino. Sonriendo y charlando, la gente pasaba caminando; ocasionalmente alguien se detenía para entrar a un restaurante.
La noche era joven.

(Martha Pearce, Year 11)

El buzón

La chica siempre devoraba esas cartas, que llegaban – ¡inesperadas! – en
su buzón rojo, oxidado.

Sus dedos temblaban cuando abría los sobres sepias y acariciaba cada palabra
…hasta que las letras florecían. Una avalancha floral. El sonrojo dulce y el amarillo tierno.
Cada sílaba podía oír el ritmo de su intención y recordaba cada pieza del rompecabezas
olvidado, desde hace años.

Pero la chica no podía transcribir la voz de su mente en palabras de tinta

entonces el remitente pereció,
sucumbió.
decían:

una falta de humanidad.

(Martha Wells. Year 12)

Spanish Flash Fiction: Highly Commended Stories

Image by S. Hermann & F. Richter from Pixabay

We’ve had the privilege of reading the winning stories in this year’s Spanish Flash Fiction competition, as well as the tremendous runners up. But, happily, it’s not over yet, as today we take a look at the highly commended entries.

Ayer, Hoy y Mañana

¿Es el cielo? Me pregunté ayer. Me aferraba a la espalda de mi madre. Estábamos rodeados de árboles verdes y masticábamos hojas de eucalipto entre otros koalas. Éramos felices. Esto era Australia, mi casa.
Ahora estoy despierto y solo. Estoy luchando por respirar, hay fuego por todos lados. Mis patas ya no pueden agarrarse a este árbol. ¿Dónde está mi madre?
Brazos fuertes me levantan y me alejan de las llamas. Los vendajes sanarán mi piel quemada. Somos los sobrevivientes tristes, rotos y perdidos. Detrás de los vendajes hay esperanza, mi madre será rescatada de los fuegos. Prevalece la humanidad.

(Maia Delin, Year 7)

El pescador

Durante horas y horas evadimos la red. El hombre tuvo que rendirse pronto. Miré el otro pez nadando por la libertad, de repente la red estaba debajo de mí, me había distraído yo. El pescador me levantó del agua. Miró a mis ojos y vio el cambio de felicidad para la culpa. El hombre admiraba mi cuerpo elegante. Golpeé el agua y sentí el frío en mi cara. Fui libre una vez más, pero supongo que volverán.

(Elizabeth Brawn, Year 9)

El río rojo

La masa de gente se retuerce en el caos. Caras con ojos asustados, revoloteandos para todos lados. Bocas abiertas. Proyectiles vuelan y el mar de cuerpos se bifurca. 
Las calles están manchadas, y un río de color rojo fluye hacia la plaza mayor. El aire se llena con gritos y el impacto de los misiles. Alguien gatea enfrente de mí con manos escarlatas.
A la izquierda puedo ver un niño riendo, y en mi nariz, puedo oler el aroma de los tomates. 

(Antonia Veary, Year 12)

Todos pensábamos que era un mito Masai. qué error. Sentado junto al fuego crepitante hecho de ramas secas de acacia, respirando el aire fresco de las tierras altas y escuchando la música de la noche africana. Una cacofonía de sonidos del arbusto de los grillos, búhos y la risa distante de una hiena. De repente, todo estaba tranquilo. una manta de silencio espeluznante nos envolvió. Vi sus ojos primero, como cuchillos de oro que perforaron en nuestras almas. Su elegante cuerpo negro emergió del arbusto, nuestros corazones latiendo era el único sonido que se escuchaba. el leopardo negro existe.

(Siena Cheli, Year 12)

Spanish Flash Fiction – The Runners up

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

A few weeks ago, we shared with you the winning entries of this year’s Spanish flash fiction competition. We hope you enjoyed them as much as we did. This week, we are pleased to share some of the stories that came a close second. Here are the brilliant runners up…

Tan cerca y tan lejos. Tus ojos son azules como el océano profundo, tu pelo es un río que fluye, su color es tan oscuro como la noche. Tu piel brilla levemente en la luz de la luna perlada. Bailas en las ondas del agua cristalina. Tu mano se extiende hacia mí, invitándome a unirte a ti en las profundidades zafiros. Extiendo la mano hacia ti, cayendo lentamente en tu abrazo acuoso. Tu belleza se vierte en mi cuerpo y apenas puedo respirar. Alcanzo tu mano pero fluye lejos, solo fuera de mi agonizante agarre. Tan cerca y tan lejos.

(Alec Müller, Year 9)

Monstruito,
Necesitamos hablar. No me quejo de tu trabajo, porque todo el mundo tiene que trabajar, lo sé. A menudo mis padres me lo dicen.
Pero estoy harta de sus métodos insuficientes y incompetentes. Eres el monstruito debajo mi cama! Quiero tener miedo, sentir que voy a morir de miedo! Y de momento? Nada. No tienes inspiración.
Carcajadas a medianoche? Aburrido.
Luces parpadeantes? Débil.
Parece que no intentas. Y estoy decepcionada. Si pudiera, se lo diría a mis padres. Pero pensarían que soy mentirosa. Por eso, esta carta.
Porfi, monstruito. Intensifica tu juego.
Sinceramente,
La chica encima de la cama.

(Honor Reynolds, Year 11)

Lleno de nervios, embarcó en su mayor reto profesional hasta entonces. Empezó a calentar el aceite después de haber limpiado sus palmas sudadas en su delantal y respiró profundamente; sintió como si toda su carrera lo hubiera llevado a este momento. El ajo chisporroteante llenó la habitación con un fuerte olor y un calor que no hizo más que aumentar la tensión. Mientras rebanaba las cebollas, una lágrima cayó por su mejilla.
Brincó; sintió una mano en su hombro. “Relájate… son sólo mis padres. Les encantará.” su novia dijo.
Tal vez tenga razón, pensó ¿Qué podría salir mal?

(Nina Goodland, Year 12)

Es una frase rara, ‘sin techo’.
El hombre se sienta, como siempre, acariciando a su perro y cantando fuerte. Siento el peso de las monedas frías en los bolsillos, y le compro su café con nueve terrones de azucar – fumar durante tantos años le ha destruido las papilas gustativas. Cuenta relatos de su carrera en la marina, y de aventuras románticas en tierras de las que yo nunca había oído. No creo que sean verdaderos, pero es un narrador increíble.
Samuel no tiene techo; se ha construido un hogar de historias y canciones, y latas  de comida para perros vacías.

(Hugo Brady, Year 12)

We think you’ll agree that they gave the winners a real run for their money. ¡Felicidades!

Spanish Flash Fiction Results 2020

Late last year we launched our annual Spanish Flash Fiction Competition, which closed in March. The competition was open to students in Years 7 to 13, who were tasked with writing a short story of no more than 100 words in Spanish. We had a terrific response, with entries coming in from across the UK and beyond, and in total we had nearly four hundred submissions.

The judges commented on how difficult the selection process was, given the high standard of so many of the stories submitted. We would like to thank everyone who entered the competition and say well done to you all for your hard work and creativity in writing a piece of fiction in a different language – it’s no easy feat and you should be proud of yourselves!

We are pleased to say we are now in a position to announce the winning entries. So, without further ado, here are the winners of the 2020 Spanish Flash Fiction contest …

In the Years 7-11 category, the winner is Haneen Ali in Year 11. The runners up were Honor Reynolds in Year 11 and Alec Muller in Year 9. The judges also highly commended Maia Delin in Year 7, and Elizabeth Brawn in Year 9, and they commended Flora Moayed and Martha Pearce, both in Year 10.

In the Years 12-13 category, the winner is Caspar Pullen-Freilich in Year 12. The runners up were Nina Goodland in Year 12 and Hugo Brady in Year 12. The judges also highly commended Siena Cheli in Year 12, and Antonia Veary in Year 12, and they commended Luca Lombardo in Year 13 and Martha Wells in Year 12.

¡ Felicidades! You’ll be receiving your certificates in the post soon.

And if anyone is curious to read the winning entries, here are the top stories from each category. Some of the other stories will be featured on this blog in the months to come.

Haneen’s story:

La sustancia roja espesa goteaba de mi cuchillo. Acababa de hacer la sopa de tomate. Una mezcla confeccionada con cuidado, me hicieron falta sangre, sudor y lágrimas para perfeccionarla- pero al fin y al cabo, valió la pena. Antes el tono pálido de fresas verdes, ahora brillaba al rojo vivo, como sangre saliendo a borbotones de una herida recién cortada. Su olor, ligeramente dulce, un poco salado, me recordaba a la última brisa suave de la playa; el último soplo antes de que se murió el verano.
Borré la sustancia roja espesa de mi cuchillo, satisfecho con mi creación.

Image by Security from Pixabay

Caspar’s story:

El Hallazgo

1529.  Caminamos incansablemente por el laberinto de cedros y helechos salpicados de ranas punta de flecha. Las copas de los árboles se estremecían por la disonancia de los monos aulladores que oscilaban de liana en liana. Los quetzales enjoyados despegaron de la copa de los cedros como si fuesen guerreros mayas en fuga. Su plumaje verde esmeralda relució en el sol veteado. Atravesamos un barranco casi asfixiado por el peso de la hojarasca y poco después, atisbamos el contorno de una conurbación imponente de ciudadelas estucadas y estelas jeroglíficas. Delirantes y deslumbrados nos preguntamos: “¿Será esto un espejismo?”

Huge congratulations to all the winners, and many thanks to everyone who entered the competition. If you’re also interested in the French competition, keep an eye on this blog for the results in the next couple of weeks…

An interview with Dr Analía Gerbaudo, Part 2

Last week, we brought you part 1 of an interview with Dr Analía Gerbaudo, who was Global South Visiting Fellow at Oxford last term. Today, our undergraduates Stephanie and Sarah bring you the concluding part of this interview, which covers Dr Gerbaudo’s experience founding a literary magazine and an insight into her own writing.

SL & SW: En 2014, usted fundó la revista literaria El Taco en la Brea, además de ser la directora de la editorial Vera cartonera. ¿Qué la inspiró a fundar una revista literaria? ¿Qué desafíos enfrentó al fundar la revista y qué desafíos sigue enfrentando al ser la directora de una editorial?

AG: Mis fantasías de intervención son pretenciosas. Porque sé que es imposible, me encantaría que nuestra revista tuviera el impacto que tuvo en el campo intelectual argentino Punto de vista. Sé que es absolutamente imposible que una revista universitaria tenga el alcance y la llegada que esa revista cultural tuvo en Argentina, en Latinoamérica y más allá, entre 1978 y 2008. Siendo un poco más realista, y en un orden más “nano”, me interesa que los resultados de investigación realizados con fondos públicos puedan ponerse a disposición en una revista on line, de calidad y con acceso abierto para todo aquel que necesite utilizarlo.
La editorial cartonera también se mueve en una tensión entre lo pensable y lo posible, tanto en términos de producción como de circulación y consumo: se intenta contribuir a generar nuevos lectores porque se apuesta a la lectura como una de las vías privilegiadas en la construcción de agencia política. Se intenta, entonces, acercar un bien simbólico de calidad a bajo precio: el libro es un objeto suntuoso incluso para un amplio sector de la clase media baja argentina y de nuestro estudiantado universitario, aun cuando la carrera elegida haya sido letras (recordemos que las carreras de grado universitario en Argentina son gratuitas: a ellas acceden estudiantes de ingresos económicos diversos).  Y como en el caso de la revista, nuestras fantasías de intervención también tienen un ángulo desmesurado y delirante: estamos trabajando en una página Web para colgar todos nuestros libros cartoneros en acceso abierto. Intentamos con esto generar una circulación que vaya más allá de Argentina. Intentamos generar una circulación que contribuya a incidir en la configuración de la Word literature.
Nuestros desafíos son los que atraviesa cualquier espacio institucionalizado en un país inestable como Argentina, con políticas públicas variables. Es decir, nuestros desafíos son poder sostener la calidad a pesar de la falta de financiamiento. Parece una tontería pero tener dinero para invertir en un buen diseño o para algo básico como comprar el papel (en el caso de la cartonera) no son cosas aseguradas. Como Sapiro muestra en sus análisis de la producción literaria bajo la ocupación alemana, el acceso al papel era un problema. En Argentina, el acceso al papel fue un problema no sólo bajo los regímenes dictatoriales. Este es un ejemplo, entre otros. Podríamos analizar con detalle qué relación hay entre, otra vez, activismo y trabajo intelectual en países periféricos como Argentina, Chile, Brasil, Bolivia, constantemente jaqueados por diferentes formas de violencia estatal dados los vaivenes entre ciclos expansionistas de derechos  y posdictaduras.

SL & SW: In 2014, you founded the literary magazine El Taco en la Brea, in addition to being the director of the publishing house Vera cartonera. What inspired you to found a literary magazine? What challenges did you face in founding the magazine, and what do you continue to face in being the director of a publishing house?

AG: My “fantasias de intervención” are ambitious.Although I know it is impossible, I would love for our magazine to have the same impact as the cultural magazine Punto de vista did on the Argentinian intellectual scene. But I know that it is absolutely impossible for a university magazine to have the same reach and reception that Punto de vista had in Argentina, in Latin America and beyond, between 1978 and 2008. When I’m being a bit more realistic, and on a smaller, more “nano” scale, I want the research results carried out with public funds to be made available in a quality, online magazine, with open access for anyone who needs to use it.
The cartonera publishing house also shifts in a tension between what is conceived and what is possible, as much in terms of production as circulation and consumption. It aims to generate new readers because it is committed to the discipline of reading as one of the privileged methods involved in the construction of political agency. We therefore also have the intention of symbolically reconciling high quality with a low price. Books are a luxury even for a wide section of the lower-middle class in Argentina, as well as for our university students, even when the degree chosen is literature (getting a university degree in Argentina is free, accessible to students from diverse economic backgrounds). And, as in the case of the magazine, our “fantasias de intervención”also have a boundless, delirious element: we are working on a web page to upload all of our cartonero editions with open access. With this, we aim to circulate our work beyond Argentina, and generate a circulation that contributes to underscoring the shape of “world literature”.
Our challenges are those that cross into any institutionalized space in an unstable country like Argentina, with changing public politics. That is, our challenges are to be able to maintain quality despite the lack of funding. It seems silly but having money to invest in a good design or for something basic like buying paper (in the case of the cartonera books) is not assured. As Sapiro demonstrates in her analysis of literary production under Nazi occupation, access to paper was a problem. In Argentina, access to paper was not only a problem under dictatorial regimes. This is one example among others. We could, once again, analyse in detail what the relationship is between activism and intellectual labour in peripheral countries such as Argentina, Chile, Brazil and Bolivia – countries constantly rocked by different forms of state violence, given the see-sawing between the expansionist cycles of rights and the post-dictatorial regimes.

SL & SW: Habrá estudiantes que cuando lean esta entrevista tendrán interés en estudiar sus obras. ¿Qué consejos les daría a ellos y a las personas cuyo idioma nativo no es el español si le preguntasen: “por dónde empezar”?

AG: La línea de trabajo que desarrollo se abre con un libro que publiqué en 2016: en Políticas de exhumación. Las clases de los críticos en la universidad argentina de la posdictadura (1984-1986) ensayo una articulación metodológica entre las teorías de Jacques Derrida y de Pierre Bourdieu para analizar cómo se enseñó la teoría literaria y la literatura argentina en mi país durante los primeros años de la restitución “democrática”. En ese libro se muestran modos de leer y de enseñar literatura y teoría literaria desarrolladas entre 1984 y 1986 por algunos de los mejores críticos de argentina: Beatriz Sarlo, Josefina Ludmer, David Viñas, Enrique Pezzoni y Jorge Panesi. Enviar a leer ese libro es enviar a leerlos a ellos. Esa es otra de mis fantasías de nano-intervención más poderosas.

SL & SW: There are students reading this interview who will be interested in studying your works. What advice would you give them, and other people whose native language isn’t Spanish, if they ask where to begin?

AG: The line of work I have developed opens with a book that I published in 2016: in Políticas de exhumación. In Las clases de los críticos en la universidad de argentina de la posdictadura (1984-1986) ) I try out an interactive methodology with the theories of Jacques Derrida and Pierre Bourdieu to analyse how literary theory and Argentinian literature was taught in my country during the first years of the “democratic” restitution. This book shows the ways of reading and teaching literature and literary theory developed between 1984 and 1986 by some of Argentina’s best critics: Beatriz Sarlo, Josefina Ludmer, David Viñas, Enrique Pezzoni and Jorge Panesi. In recommending this book to others, I’m urging them to read these critics too. This is another of my more powerful “fantasias de nano-intervención”.

Concluding thoughts from Stephanie and Sarah

Throughout the course of this interview, Gerbaudo gives us an insight into her time at Oxford, the instrumental role of Oxford academics in furthering discussions and a taste of her own approaches to literature and literary theory, especially under censorship and dictatorship. She highlights the influence of Jacques Derrida on her own work, focussing on exhumation policies in her study of historical literary practices. Words are undeniably powerful as she demonstrates with her current role as director of Vera Cartonera editorial. Through her ambitions for the future of the literary magazine, Gerbaudo provokes us into questioning the role of activism, translation and publication in the global dissemination of literature.

We would like to thank Professor Gerbaudo for taking time to talk to us and we hope this taster of her work will inspire others to explore her work further.

An interview with Dr Analía Gerbaudo, Part 1

This blog post was written by Stephanie Long and Sarah Wadsworth, who are in the final year of their degrees in Spanish. Here, they interview Global South Visiting Fellow, Dr Analía Gerbaudo and discuss literature and political activism, and the role of the translator. Dr Gerbaudo gave this interview in Spanish, and Stephanie and Sarah have translated it into English. As this interview is quite long, we will be publishing it in two parts – check back next week for part 2.

At the end of 2019, we were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to interview Dr Analía Gerbaudo, a Global South Visiting Fellow appointed by the Research Centre for Humanities (TORCH) here in Oxford. She is Professor of Literary Theory and Didactics of Language and Literature at the National University of Litoral in her home country of Argentina, as well as the director of the independent publishing house Vera cartonera, and editor-in-chief of the online literary journal, El Taco en la Brea, which she founded in 2014. Given that one of the key aims of the TORCH project is to help diversify the curriculum at Oxford University, it seems only fitting that such a talented individual with involvement in the “cartonero” movement in Argentina – a movement dedicated to providing quality literature at an affordable price – should have received this appointment. “Translation is necessary in order for one to share texts,” Dr Gerbaudo tells us in one of her answers. For that reason, we feel privileged to have conducted and translated from Spanish the interview presented below. It is a pleasure to share with others Dr Gerbaudo’s obvious knowledge and experience.

SL & SW: Tenemos el privilegio de tener una entrevista con usted aquí en Oxford. En el verano, usted fue nombrada por la organización TORCH (The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities) como una << Global South Visiting Fellow >>. Según usted, ¿en qué consiste dicho nombramiento y cómo se relaciona con sus investigaciones literarias?

AG: Resulta complejo expresar con palabras lo que la experiencia habilitada por este nombramiento de TORCH me ha permitido. Se trata de algo mucho más complejo que la ya enorme posibilidad de transmitir en uno de los centros de producción intelectual más prestigiosos del mundo los resultados de mis investigaciones (siempre repito que el mapa mundial de los estudios literarios tiene tres grandes polos situados en Francia, en Estados Unidos y en Inglaterra): para alguien que estudia los procesos de institucionalización de las disciplinas, conocer las condiciones de producción de la Universidad de Oxford ya es, de por sí, una experiencia intraducible (es decir, es necesario atravesarla, no hay otro modo de sintetizar las sensaciones que uno siente cuando descubre estas increíbles bibliotecas, los equipadísimos espacios de trabajo, los edificios cuidados, los lugares de recreación, la universidad misma en su conjunto).
Y en esa línea, hay algo de la sociabilidad académica que me ha parecido muy interesante. Me refiero al modo en que los profesores que confiaron en que mi visita podría realizar algún aporte han organizado los coloquios, los workshops y las presentaciones: se trató de un trabajo realizado con una responsabilidad, un profesionalismo y una obsesión que merecen verdaderamente destacarse (además de donarme su tiempo para organizar cada detalle: recordemos que el filósofo francés Jacques Derrida nos advierte que el único bien del que se tiene derecho a ser avaros es el tiempo dado su carácter irrecuperable). El trabajo que han realizado Stefano María Evangelista, Ben Bollig y Laura Marcus es absolutamente imposible de resumir en dos líneas de una entrevista. Gracias a sus intervenciones se generaron interesantísimas conversaciones con otros profesores participantes de las actividades: con Gisèle Sapiro (CNRS, EHESS, París) trabajo desde el año 2011, pero antes de esta estadía nunca había conversado con Peter McDonald ni con María del Pilar Blanco ni con Patricia Novillo-Corvalán. Es impresionante lo que ha sucedido porque si bien trabajamos mucho durante mis semanas en Oxford, sobre el cierre de la experiencia empezaron a aparecer proyectos de continuidad de la conversación: traducciones, publicaciones en la editorial cartonera que dirijo y un largo etcétera que involucra a este grupo de personas que he mencionado.

SL & SW: We’re privileged to have an interview with you here in Oxford. In the summer, you were appointed by the TORCH organisation (The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities) as a “Global South Visiting Fellow”. What does such an appointment involve, and how is it connected with your literary research?

AG: It is hard to express in words just what experience this TORCH appointment has afforded me. It goes far beyond the already enormous opportunity of sharing the results of my research in one of the most prestigious centres of intellectual output in the world (I have always said that the world map of literary studies has three large poles located in France, the United States and England). For someone who studies the processes of institutionalisation within disciplines, knowing the environment of the University of Oxford is already, in itself, an indescribable experience. That is to say, one has to go through it, there is no other way to accurately sum up the sensations one feels when discovering these incredible libraries, extraordinarily well-furnished workspaces, cherished buildings, recreation areas, the university itself as a whole.
Along those lines, I have been pleasantly surprised by the great enthusiasm and interest of academic circles at Oxford. I refer to the way in which the professors – the ones who believed that something would become of my visit – have organized talks, workshops and presentations: such work was carried out with a responsibility, a professionalism and a dedication that truly deserve to be mentioned, in addition to giving me their time to organize every detail. Let us not forget what the French philosopher Jacques Derrida said: he warned us that the only good that comes from entitled greed is time, given its irretrievable nature. The work that Stefano María Evangelista, Ben Bollig and Laura Marcus have done is absolutely impossible to summarize in two lines of an interview. It is thanks to their involvement, that fascinating conversations have taken place with other professors participating in the activities. I have been working with Gisèle Sapiro (CNRS, EHESS, Paris) since 2011, but before this stay I had never properly spoken to Peter McDonald or María del Pilar Blanco nor to Patricia Novillo-Corvalán. What is truly striking is that although we worked continuously during my weeks in Oxford, towards the end of the experience, projects continuing the conversation began to appear, including translations, publications in the cartonera publishing house that I am director of, and much, much more all involving the group of people that I mention above.

SL & SW: Un artículo publicado por el blog de la facultad de Humanidades de la universidad nos dice que: “Las obras de la doctora Gerbaudo abordan la actual y complicada cuestión de la relación entre los estudios literarios y el activismo político”. ¿Cómo describiría esta relación entre la literatura y el activismo? ¿Se considera usted una activista política?

AG: Hay sobre este punto una larga deriva de una conversación y de una enseñanza de Gisèle Sapiro. Los trabajos de Sapiro muestran que no hay un divorcio entre autonomía y política, como se nos suele hacer creer: nadie le pagaba a Sartre ni a Zola por sus asunciones políticas que atravesaban su filosofía y su literatura. Mis trabajos siguen esa línea abierta por Sapiro: ninguna de las dos somos neutrales. Nuestras posiciones políticas se advierten en todos y cada uno de nuestros trabajos y en nuestras acciones públicas, incluidas nuestras investigaciones.
Suelo hablar en mis escritos de “políticas de exhumación”. Jacques Derrida ha escrito, en un texto memorable, “One transforms while exhuming”. Exhumar prácticas clandestinas de enseñanza de teorías literarias y de literatura censuradas durante el terrorismo de Estado en Argentina así como exhumar prácticas que dan cuenta de la continuidad de políticas económicas, culturales y simbólicas de la dictadura, aún bajo el orden “democrático”, es parte de mi trabajo de investigación. Si esas intervenciones pueden considerarse una forma de activismo, entonces se podría decir que soy una activista. Creo y sigo, a pesar de todo (es decir, a pesar de que no pueden tanto como uno quisiera), una tradición francesa que apuesta al poder de las palabras. Trabajamos con palabras y en ese trabajo hay una potencia y una peligrosidad notable. No por casualidad durante la dictadura argentina era complejo hacer circular un texto como How to Do Things with Words

SL & SW: An article published by the University’s Humanities faculty’s blog tells us: “Dr Gerbaudo’s work tackles the difficult, charged and extremely topical question of the relationship between literary studies and political activism.” How would you describe the relationship between literature and activism? And would you consider yourself a political activist?

AG: A large amount of work by Giséle Sapiro, derived from conversations and her teaching, deals with this subject. Her work demonstrates that neither autonomy nor politics can be divorced from each other, as we are often led to believe: nobody paid Sartre or Zola to include the political suppositions that run through their philosophy and literature. My own work follows the thread drawn by Sapiro: that neither of the two are neutral. Our political stances are apparent in each and every part of our work and in our public activities, including our research.
I often talk about the “politics of exhumation” in my writing. Jacques Derrida wrote in one memorable text: “One transforms while exhuming”. Exhuming clandestine teaching practices of literary theories and literature censored during state terrorism in Argentina, as well as exhuming practices that account for the continuity of economic, cultural and symbolic policies of the dictatorship, even under the “democratic” order, constitute part of my research work.
If these interventions can be considered a form of activism, then you could say I’m an activist, despite everything. I mean to say we cannot do as much as one would like to. I believe in and follow a French tradition that gambles on the power of words.We work with words and in such a labour, there is remarkable power as well as a marked danger. It’s no coincidence that during the Argentinian dictatorship it was difficult to circulate texts such as How to Do Things with Words.

SL & SW: El artículo dice también que usted es una “traductora activa”. ¿Qué significa ser una traductora de obras argentinas y qué opina de traducirlas de español a inglés? Por otro lado, para usted, ¿qué es lo que más le gusta de la traducción?

AG: La traducción es una herramienta fundamental, en especial en países de preponderancia monolingüe como Argentina: lamentablemente nuestro sistema educativo no afianza la enseñanza de lenguas extranjeras, ni siquiera el portugués que es la lengua que se habla en uno de nuestros países vecinos, Brasil. Por lo tanto traducir es necesario si uno quiere compartir con los estudiantes los textos que ayudan a complejizar ideas, análisis, metodologías, perspectivas de investigación, de reflexión, de pensamiento. En ese sentido, mis traducciones son de textos del francés y del inglés al español. Elijo, en cada ocasión, textos que me permitan introducir categorías teóricas o maneras de leer que problematicen las discusiones recortadas en el campo nacional y, si se quiere, latinoamericano, ya que solemos publicar nuestras traducciones en revistas on line con acceso abierto.
El inglés es hoy la lingua franca de la ciencia. ¿Cómo no ponerse contento cuando un texto o una idea se pueden hacer circular por canales que permitan su diseminación por los espacios por los que esta lengua transita?

SL & SW: The article also says that you are an “active translator”. What does it mean to be a translator of Argentinian literature, and what is your opinion on translating them from Spanish to English? On the other hand, what do you enjoy most about translation?

AG: Translation is a fundamental tool, especially in countries like Argentina where monolingualism is dominant. Unfortunately, our education system hasn’t acted to strengthen the teaching of foreign languages, not even with Portuguese – the language spoken in one of our neighbouring countries, Brazil. Therefore, translation is necessary in order for one to share texts with students that help them deal with more complex ideas, analyses, methodologies, research perspectives, reflection, and thought. In that sense, my translations are from French and English into Spanish. At every opportunity, I select texts that allow me to introduce theoretical categories or ways of reading that consider the problems found in discussions cut short in the national sphere, and if you like, the Latin American sphere, too, since we usually publish our translations in online magazines with open access.
English is the lingua franca of science today. How can one not be pleased when a text or an idea can circulate by channels allowing their dissemination in spaces where English permits them movement?

Join us next week for the concluding part of this interview…

Oxford is open!

If you’re considering your university choices, one of the best ways to get a feel for different universities is to visit them. To that end, we offer a number of open days for propspective students – a chance for you to meet current students and tutors, look around the facilities, find out about the course and the lifestyle, and get a taster of what it’s like to study a particular subject at that university.

In the Medieval and Modern Languages Faculty at Oxford, we organise several different kinds of open day: some are small open days for individual languages, where you can attend sample lectures and immerse yourself in a specific language; we also run a big open day in May which covers all of our languages in one day, offering an overview of Modern Languages at Oxford and Q&A sessions for the different languages and joint degrees; and finally, there are University-wide open days in the summer when most of the departments and colleges are open so that you can get a sense of the University as a whole.

Below you will find the dates of our 2020 open days. You need to book a place on the language-specific open days and on the main Modern Languages open day, but you do not need to book for the university-wide summer open days. You can book here.

  • German, Saturday 29 February
  • Spanish and Portuguese, Friday 6 March
  • Russian and other Slavonic Languages, Saturday 7 March
  • Italian, Saturday 14 March
  • General Modern Languages (all languages we offer and joint schools), Saturday 2 May
  • University-wide open days, Weds 1 and Thurs 2 July, Friday 20 September

Programmes for each of these open days are available here. Please note that there is no specific open day for French: students interested in French should attend the open day in May or one of the open days in July or September.

Stay tuned for more posts about open days – what to expect and how to prepare – but, in the meantime, if you’d like to meet us in person do book a place on one of these events. If you have any questions please get in touch at schools.liaison@mod-langs.ox.ac.uk and we look forward to meeting you later in the year!

Flash Fiction Competitions Launch

It’s the time of year again when we launch our annual competitions in French and Spanish! If you are learning French and/or Spanish in Years 7-13, you are invited to send us a very short story to be in with a chance of winning up to £100. Read on to find out more…

What is Flash Fiction?

We’re looking for a complete story, written in French or Spanish, using NO MORE THAN 100 WORDS.

How short can it be?

Well, candidates for the World’s Shortest Story include a six-word story in English by Ernest Hemingway:

‘For sale: baby shoes, never worn.’

Or a seven-word story in Spanish by Augusto Monterroso, called El dinosaurio:

‘Cuando despertó, el dinosaurio todavía estaba allí.’

You don’t have to be as brief as that, but anything from six to a hundred words will do. Just not a single word more.

Photo by Florian Klauer on Unsplash

What are the judges looking for?

We’ll be looking for imagination and narrative flair, as well as your ability to write in French or Spanish. Your use of French or Spanish will be considered in the context of your age and year group: in other words, we will not expect younger pupils to compete against older pupils linguistically. For inspiration, you can read some of last year’s winning entries and runners up for French here, or for Spanish here.

What do I win?

There are two categories: Years 7-11 and Years 12-13. A first prize of £100 will be awarded to the winning entry in each category, with runner-up prizes of £25. The winning entries will be published on our this blog, if you give us permission to do so.

How do I enter?

The deadline for submissions is noon on Tuesday 31st March 2020.

If you would like to submit a story in French please do so via our online sumission portal here.

If you would like to submit a story in Spanish please do so here.

You may only submit one story per language but you are welcome to submit one story in French AND one story in Spanish if you would like to. Your submission should be uploaded as a Word document or pdf.

The online page will ask you to fill in some details, which are used for the purpose of administering our outreach activity. To understand how your data is used for this purpose, please read the Privacy Policy. Please note that, because of GDPR, teachers cannot enter on their students’ behalf: students must submit their entries themselves.
If this is the first time you have entered a competition with us, you will be sent an automated email (check your spam folder if you can’t find this), which will include a link to verify your email address. Please click this link, which will take you to the Modern Languages Faculty website (you will be given an option to sign up to the newsletter. You do not have to sign up to the newsletter in order to enter the competition, although you are welcome to do so). Once you have clicked the confirmation link in the email, your entry has been submitted.
If you have entered this competition before you won’t receive an automated email as it is simply to check that the email address you’ve submitted works so that we can email you the results.

If you have any questions, please email us at schools.liaison@mod-langs.ox.ac.uk

Good luck! Bonne chance! ¡ Mucha suerte!

Eduardo Lalo’s term as TORCH Global South Visiting Fellow

This blog post was written by Franklin, a second-year student studying Spanish and Portuguese. Here, Franklin tells us about Eduardo Lalo’s stay in Oxford and the way it shone a spotlight on the Spanish-speaking Caribbean.

Every term, a number of academics from countries in the ‘Global South’ – a term that refers to countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean whose economies are small to medium-sized – arrive in Oxford as TORCH Global South Visiting Fellows. TORCH, short for The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities, collaborates with an Oxford-based academic to sponsor and support the academic whilst they are here hosting events to do with their research interests and current projects.

One of the academics Oxford welcomed in ‘Trinity’ term (summer term) was Eduardo Lalo, Professor of Literature at the University of Puerto Rico and a multidisciplinary artist, whose work spans creative writing, drawing and photography. Eduardo’s academic host in Oxford was María del Pilar Blanco, Associate Professor of Spanish American Literature and Tutorial Fellow at Trinity College; together, they devised a range of events throughout the term for him to showcase his work and engage with the local and university communities.

The first of those events was a seminar series entitled ‘The Mis-invention of the Caribbean’. In the three seminars that comprised the series, which brought together students, researchers and members of the wider Oxford community, Eduardo examined the literature of the encounter between the Caribbean and its peoples and Europeans, with key texts including Christopher Columbus’s journal, dating from 1493, and the edition of it annotated by Bartolomé de las Casas, a Spanish cleric whose writings chart the first decades of the colonization of the Caribbean. The series reconsidered the historiography surrounding the ‘discovery’ of the Caribbean, revealing that, at the heart of Columbus’ journal, lie a number of problematics and points of contention, and that, as a text, it cannot always be taken at face value. Beyond Columbus, Eduardo explored works by English travellers in the nineteenth century – texts by such figures as James A. Froude and Spenser St. John – and how they relate in style and content to Columbus’s fifteenth-century diary. In particular, Eduardo analyzed the recurrence of the cannibal as a figure that European writers return to again and again to represent their cultural others.

Alongside his three-part seminar series, Eduardo led a separate creative writing workshop for a group of ten students. After a short question-and-answer session, Eduardo, through a range of exercises, invited seminar-goers to consider the importance of the notion of writing in space (the space of a page of a book, for instance). Those in attendance enjoyed the opportunity to think creatively about, and move through, approaches to creative writing.

San Juan, Puerto Rico. Photo by Ramiro Collazo on Unsplash

Aside from his more academic seminars and creative writing workshop, members of the Oxford community were able to attend an exhibition of his photography, entitled ‘Deudos’, or ‘Death Debts’, held at St John’s College. Eduardo’s black-and-white images of life in Puerto Rico, taken between 2012 and 2018, bring to the fore in powerful detail the realities of day-to-day life in what has been termed the world’s ‘oldest colony’ (Puerto Rico remains a commonwealth of the United States). Held over the course of the fourth week of term, the exhibition was well attended and its venue appropriate, in the light of the recent announcement by St John’s College’s that it will launch a new research project, named ‘St John’s and the Colonial Past’, to examine the role the college played in creating and maintaining Britain’s overseas empire. Eduardo’s exhibition seemed apt at a time when the Oxford community is opening discussions about decolonial approaches to art and scholarly work.

Eduardo’s term as a TORCH Global South Visiting Fellow, then, shone a spotlight on the relative lack of research that is done in Oxford on the Spanish-speaking Caribbean, compared with that done on Spain and South America. His seminar series was a very useful follow-up to Professor Blanco’s lectures in ‘Hilary’ term (spring term) on ‘Literature of the Spanish Caribbean’, providing attendees with important historical context as far as the literary history of the Caribbean is concerned. Equally, it was enjoyable and insightful to explore new approaches to creative writing and to engage with photography, two aspects of the arts under-represented and under-explored in Oxford curricula:  approaches that challenge us to think of long-established canons from a decolonial perspective.