I am a graduate student in comparative literature at the University of Texas at Austin. I specialize in twentieth century literature of the Americas. I am particularly concerned with questions of eschatology, etymology and entomology.
Samuel Cramer, the anti-hero of Charles Baudelaire's early novella La Fanfarlo, is the product of a German father and a Chilean mother: combined with a French education, this national hybridity produces in him a hopeless romanticism. Thus Cramer embodies what Mary Louise Pratt calls the romanticism of the contact zone, the possibility that European romanticism is an epidemic from across the Atlantic.
In Pratt's model, romanticism returns to the Americas through the early nineteenth-century travels and travel writings of Alexander von Humboldt. Samuel Cramer resurfaces here too, in the unlikely figure of Juan Dahlmann. Dahlmann, the protagonist of Jorge Luis Borges' short story El sur, is the Argentine son of a German father and an American mother. Though on the surface this story is quite different, its narrative runs parallel to that of La Fanfarlo. Like Cramer, in the end Dahlmann also suffers from a fatal romanticism.
In this paper I will read El sur alongside La Fanfarlo to construct a transatlantic lineage of hybrid identities and hybrid literatures. I will examine the oscillation between the modern and the romantic as an iterative movement, from salon to city streets, from library to pampas, and from Baudelaire's Paris to Borges' Buenos Aires.
Pterodáctilo 11, Fall 2012
Collected writings from the "Memory and Archives" panel at the 2012 Graduate Association in Comparative Literature conference at the University of Texas at Austin.
How do archives construct communities (and how do communities construct archives)?
In this paper, I talk about subversive, disappearing, and silent archives in Roberto Bolaño's Los detectives salvajes. In 1989, Roberto González Echevarría's Myth and Archive offered a definitive historiography of Latin American literature culminating in the "archival novel" of the "boom" era. This genre is characterized by the combination of a mythic or cyclical narrative structure with a more teleological narrative based in the archive — in a collection of canonical national and historical texts. Bolaño's novel can be read as a continuation of and a return to the "archival novel" because of the way in which it collects and catalogues texts. This suggests that it can also be read as a continuation of the project of building a national or continental Latin American identity, and Bolaño has often been read this way, striking an ongoing debate over his Chilean, Mexican, and Latin American authenticity.
Although the archives in Los detectives salvajes do follow archival convention, however, they are both parodic and subversive. One archive catalogues the great Latin American poets by way of their (imagined) sexuality; another contains books that are stolen but not read; another contains the poems rejected by a literary magazine. These archives are constructed in bars, in bedrooms, and on rooftops; the archivists themselves are dropouts and poets and prostitutes, often drunk or high. I will argue that this archival parody makes obsolete the concept of the fixed national archive and, thus, the project of constructing identities along geopolitical lines. Bolaño's archives, instead, offer an escape from a violent and chaotic world, indulging the fantasy of narrative stability and of play.
With Dan Garrette. Language Log, September 12, 2013.
Full-Stop, 21 November 2012
Latin American literature, culture, history. Blogging for Pterodáctilo
Some Good Reads, 21 November 2013
Pterodactilo Goes Digital, 9 October 2013
Rarified Books, 8 September 2013
Building a BorgesBot, 16 July 2013
Mapping the New World, 4 June 2013
Disco, marriage, archival parties.
So Much I Don't Know (With Roanne Kantor), 12 March 2013
Reading Under The Influence, 24 January 2013
On Disco, 12 December 2012
University of Texas, Fall 2013
Conference Organizer: What We Read: Materiality, Narrative, Text