STS/MLA 2015 Roundtable: Textual Scholarship in the Hispanic World

The Society for Textual Scholarship (STS) will host a roundtable discussion of recent scholarship in Hispanic textualities at the MLA 2015 convention in Vancouver BC.

The purpose of the panel is to discuss current research on textual cultures, editing and editorial theories and electronic textualities in the field of Hispanic letters and cultural studies. The participants and session abstracts are as follows:

Chair: Andrew Reynolds, West Texas A&M University

Roundtable Panelists: Albert Lloret: University of Massachusetts – Amherst

“Medieval Catalan Texts in Early Printed Books”

When medieval texts went into print during the early modern period, a whole set of hermeneutical problems arose. Changes in the material format of handwritten texts were anything but hermeneutically transparent. Printing texts entailed in some cases a full recodification of their meaning in subtle ways and, on occasion, even an overhaul of the status of the works of which those textual iterations partook. In this paper I will contrast the cases of two medieval Catalan texts: Ausiàs March’s poetical corpus and Joanot Maratorell’s chivalric novel Tirant lo Blanc. The former enjoyed ten different editions, including those of one Latin and two Spanish translations. It also survives in an extensive manuscript tradition. The latter only produced three different printed editions, one of which was a Spanish translation. In my talk I will consider how each of these cases responds to Donald Mackenzie’s dictum that new readers make new texts and that their new meanings are a function of their new forms. To this end I will analyze their differences in terms of literary genre, book format, relationship to extant tradition, and posthumous fame.

José Enrique Navarro: Wichita State University

Americanismo and the Search for a Panhispanic Book Market: Francesc Cambó and the Publishing Houses of Seix Barral and Sudamericana”

In The Boom in Spanish American Literature: A Personal History (1972), Chilean author José Donoso established 1962 as the start of the so called Boom of Latin American narrative. In that year Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa was awarded the Biblioteca Breve Prize by the Spanish publisher Seix Barral. His novel The Time of the Hero gained a notable critical and commercial success later overcome by the world-renowned One Hundred Years of Solitude. According to Donoso, Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s masterwork, published in 1967 by the Argentinean publisher Sudamericana, consecrated the Boom.

Curiously enough Seix Barral and Sudamericana, the main publishers involved in the Boom, shared several commonalities. Along with a then innovative management design that clearly distinguished the literary and commercial areas, it was possible to find in both publishing houses either shareholders or staff members closely related to the Catalanist politician and Spanish Minister Francesc Cambó (1876-1947). This paper will examine the role played by Antonio López Llausás, Rafael Vehils, Carlos Barral, and Joan Petit in these publishing projects, as well as the diverse strategies they deployed to gain presence at the other shore of the Atlantic. It will be also discussed why Seix Barral and Sudamericana fulfilled only partially the dream of a Panhispanic publisher that supporters of Americanismo, headed by Cambó, had in the early twenties in Barcelona and Madrid.

Heather Allen: University of Mississippi

“Suggestions for New Approaches in Early Modern Spanish American Textual Studies”

Because textual creation, production, and circulation in the Spanish American colonies were integral in forming new societies and eventually new political states, textual studies are essential in understanding Latin America’s generative processes. However, early modern Hispanic textual studies have largely been limited to documenting the establishment of print and analyzing libraries; research that tends to view books as static objects rather than dynamic instruments of change. While some recent studies account for and examine texts’ social milieu and impact (e.g. Adorno’s The Polemics of Possession, Rappaport and Cummins’s Beyond the Lettered City), Spanish American textual studies generally fail to consider texts within their complete social, political, and cultural environment; the critical framework consistently used for textual studies in other regions and eras such as early modern France and England.

In order to reconstruct and understand how authors and readers interacted with text, I suggest we examine how textual objects, writing, and reading are represented within early modern Spanish American artefacts for recording knowledge (manuscripts, native codices, etc.). This method can provide scholars with a multifaceted vision of the cultural history of text and literacy in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Spanish America based on the opinions of people who lived during that time; a vision that bibliographers cannot reconstruct using exclusively statistical evidence. In other words, although we know many of the texts that circulated in the colonies, testaments and inventories cannot give us a comprehensive picture of how textual artefacts were received, treated, read, and utilized in daily life.

Craig Epplin: Portland State University

“Necrowriting and Politics”

Mexican novelist Cristina Rivera Garza has recently coined the term “necrowriting” (necroescritura) to suggest a form of writing elaborated at the place where digital writing machines and digital war machines overlap. She identifies an affinity between the two that forms the basis for the elaboration of critique. This same technological affinity underlies a number of contemporary practices, most notably engagements with writing through what I call an aesthetics of keyboard shortcuts. In this presentation, I will draw on a number of contemporary writers (Rivera Garza, Mario Bellatin, and Pablo Katchadjian, among others) to argue that necrowriting can be understood as a form of indexical mapping that seeks to make visible the relationship between technology and politics today.

Aurelie Vialette: SUNY – Stony Brook

“How to do Digital Things with Text and Sound: e-Editing a Composer’s Correspondence”

This presentation will examine how to produce a digital edition of a composer’s manuscript archive. I will take as a point of departure my project “A Trip to Madrid: Catalan Workers on Stage for the Construction of a Plural Iberia” in which I analyze the unedited archive of Catalan composer and politician Josep Anselm Clavé, founder of the choruses of industrial workers in 19th-century Catalonia. The project seeks to edit a series of letters that the composer wrote during a trip from Barcelona to Madrid with the industrial workers, in 1863, the year in which the choruses of workers gave a series of concerts at the Zarzuela Theater. In the letters, the composer expressed the difficulties he was facing in his attempt to penetrate the ritualized and codified space of the Madrilenian theater and denounced the opposition between high and low culture, between industry and theater, as well as between Catalan and Castilian. The letters also explain how Clavé had to operate in the midst of constant confrontation with institutions and the government in order to maintain an aesthetic legitimacy for the workers’ choruses.

This project is particularly fascinating as it includes texts (the letters), scores and recordings to be edited in the digital platform. In addition, the objects of study are part of a displacement of the subjects (the composers, the industrial workers, and other historical characters), that is, a trip from Barcelona to Madrid, which permits us to include an entire map with geographical, historical, cultural as well as political references. Two letters relate the actual trip in train from the Catalan city to the Capital and the rest of them the displacement of the composer throughout Madrid as well as his encounters with composers, politicians as well as the Queen Isabel II. The editing of this archive permits to give access not only to the interdisciplinary materials that the archive itself contains (music, letters, poetry, historical events, historical characters, etc) but also to think about how the text creates new concepts that are crucial for our understanding of 19th-century Iberian culture.


Ana Gómez-Bravo: University of Washington



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