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Conference to Focus on Latin American Women Writers

Published: April 15, 2009

Latin American women writers will attract a closer look on Friday, May 1, when CSULB welcomes to campus a conference titled “A Hundred Years Later: Latin American Women’s Literature and The Legacy of Mercedes Cabello de Carbonera y Clorinda Matto de Turner.”

The College of Liberal Arts will co-sponsor the conference along with the Facultad de Ciencias de la Comunicación, Turismo y Psicología of the Universidad de San Martín de Porres, Lima, Perú. Other sponsors include the Associated Students Inc., the Spanish Club, the Office of the Provost, the University Library and the Department of Romance, German, Russian Languages and Literatures (RGRLL).

The conference is planned in conjunction with two other major events to be held at the end of August and October by the Center for Women Studies in the History of Latin America and the Universidad de of San Martín de Porres.

“A Hundred Years” is funded in part by CSULB graduate student Nelly Goswitz, a Peruvian national who joined CSULB in 2006 and is on her way towards receiving her Master of Arts degree in Spanish in May. She was selected to be the 2008 graduate recipient of the Liberal Arts Scholars Program’s $3,000 award in May 2008 for her collaborative project with RGRLL professor and co-chair Claire Martin in honor of the 100th anniversary of the death of Cabello de Carbonera and Matto de Turner. She is using the money to support “A Hundred Years Later” and to present her latest research on Cabello.

“After attending Dr. Martin’s class on nation building and women’s writing in 19th century Spanish America in 2006, I started my first research project on Mercedes Cabello de Carbonera, one of the most influential women intellectuals of the time. This project led me to interview Dr. Pinto Vargas in Lima, the author of the most recent book on Cabello, and to conduct more research on her,” said Goswitz. Now, after winning the award, “this seemed like a good opportunity to give back to the university,” she added.

“This is undoubtedly a unique opportunity to work with a sister university in Peru,” said Martin, who joined the university in 1988. “This conference will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the passing of these two Peruvian writers who influenced not only literature but politics, intellectual life and education in 19th century Latin America. They found themselves at the center of change.”

Keynote speakers include María Cristina Arambel-Guiñazú, Roberto Ignacio Díaz, Rocío Ferreira, Sara Beatriz Guardia and Ismael Pinto Vargas.

Arambel-Guiñazú received her doctorate in Spanish-American literature from Yale and currently teaches at Lehman College’s Department of Languages and Literatures in the City University of New York. She has published with Martin two volumes of criticism and an anthology entitled Women Take the Floor: Female Writing of the 19th Century.

Díaz, an associate professor of Spanish, Portuguese and Comparative Literature at USC, is the author of Unhomely Rooms: Foreign Tongues and Spanish American Literature which explores the practice of writing in English and French by Spanish-American authors of the 19th and 20th centuries. He received his Ph.D. in romance languages and literatures from Harvard in 1991. He is presently at work on a book-length study of opera in Latin America.

Ferreira is a faculty member at Chicago’s DePaul University. She’s a CSULB alumna and received her doctorate in Latin American literature from UC Berkeley. She specializes in 19th-century literature with a particular focus on gender and writing, and the formation of national literary culture in Latin America.

Guardia and Pinto Vargas represent the Universidad de San Martín de Porres. Guardia is an acknowledged expert in Latin American women and director of the Center for Women Studies in the History of Latin America. Pinto is a lawyer and journalist whose most recent work is titled Sin without Forgiveness and Forgetting: Mercedes Cabello de Carbonera and the World (2003). He joined the Peruvian Academy of Language in 2004.

“Our goals are twofold,” said Martin. “We want this conference to contribute to the knowledge and dissemination of works by 19th-century Latin American writers, and to expand the network of intellectuals interested in research on women writers from all periods in Latin America.”

Goswitz added that this conference represents a rare opportunity for students to network with authors and other researchers. “You don’t have to be a graduate student to attend this conference,” she said. “Anyone interested in the subject is welcome.”

Martin agreed. “This is a wonderful opportunity for our students, whether undergraduates or graduates, whether they are from this department or a related one, to see other students just like themselves doing serious research and presenting it,” she said. “Our conference attracts students not only from California but universities from around the country and internationally. We have abstracts from France, the Philippines and Peru. This is a showcase not only for our students but for the university as an international meeting place.”