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Friday, June 24, 2016

Ok

Ok this article from the CHE is not going to be to my liking. I've supported my colleagues who study Spanish American literature, but this guy is not making much sense on the basis of facts.

Maybe my defensiveness is coming into play here, but I think if I were a Latin Americanist, I would have many more job opportunities. I don't think it's true, either, that Latin American authors are considered nobodies in Spanish departments, or that use of vosotros and leísmo is dominant. Very few undergraduate students have a ceceo or use vosotros, ever, even if they've studied the summer in Barcelona.

Mexico is the most populous Spanish speaking country, and yet some departments don't have a Mexicanist (we have two, and just lost one dean who was one, along with a junior colleague who's worked a lot on Mexico.) That's a fair point, but comparing Mexicanists to Peninsularists is not an apples to apples comparison, since most Latin Americanists do not study a single country, except in the case, precisely, of Mexico. People study Latin American literature generally, or are specialists in a period, a genre, or a region, less often a single nation state.

13 comments:

clarissasblog.com said...

What a ridiculous article. This fellow has invented himself a grievance and is nursing it with great dedication.

el curioso impertinente said...

This is utterly preposterous. First of all, I would question the methodology and the results of the "study" on which this blog relies. He obviously went into it with his mind already made up as to what he was going to find.

Jonathan said...

The most irritating thing is that he calls a department with any significant peninsular component at all "overwhelmingly Eurocentric." If you start with the premise that countries should be represented in Spanish departments according to their populations, then many results like this ensue. His claim that Mexico has nearly three times the population as Spain is also suspect. You would have to add Cuba and another smaller country to get to three times Spain.

I guess there is a model for having all Spanish departments like Pittsburgh, and none like Berkeley, UVA, or Kansas.

profacero said...

This article is c--- and I have spent the last hour arguing about it on Facebook.

profacero said...

P.S. A *major* misconception in the piece is that Spain colonized the present-day Latin Americans. These people are the settlers and conquistadors and are part of freakin' Spain.

There are just so many more interesting ways to talk about curriculum than what this muerto de hambre essay is able to spit up.

el curioso impertinente said...

Let's extrapolate to China and India. By his reckoning, universities should have massive departments of languages and literatures devoted to these two countries, and much smaller ones everywhere else. Is that argument tenable? Using population as a basis is clearly a boondoggle.

Leslie said...

I don't find this to be true:

"most Latin Americanists do not study a single country, except in the case, precisely, of Mexico. People study Latin American literature generally, or are specialists in a period, a genre, or a region, less often a single nation state."

Anyway, here is a better and more interesting piece on curriculum https://www.ncsu.edu/acontracorriente/spring_09/docs/Irwin_and_Szurmuk.pdf

NB I have noticed Puerto Rican teachers can be very anti-Spain and see it everywhere, about to jump out and get them. Maybe the author of the CHE piece is one of these.

Leslie said...

... I wonder if that anti-Spain sentiment in PR is based in anything recent, like Spaniards showing up in the 20th century and treating them like colony while also disparaging their US influence, Spanglish, and so on. There has to be something like this to explain the particular animus in that piece, and the focus on leísmo and so on.

Jonathan said...

I think there are Mexicanists and Peruvianists, but not Ecuadorists or Venezuelanists. If you were hiring Latin Americanists by region, you would say

Mexico

América central

caribeño

cono sur ...

Andes

I guess some might specialize in Colombia, or example.

el curioso impertinente said...

P.R. Probably something post-war. Visiting professors at Rio Piedras in the 1920s: Federico de Onis, Americo Castro, Tomas Navarro Tomas, Fernando de los Rios, Amado Alonso, Valbuena Prat, etc.

profacero said...

True that, curioso impertinente! And a question for you -- am I really out of date or fuddy duddy to think medieval and early modern Spain are important, and modern Spanish literature is good? I mean, there are a lot of underrepresented literatures but there is some sense I get from all these complaints about the Peninsula that these complainers aren't aware of what it is they are asking us to throw away, and are actually complaining about pedantic high school teachers or something. ?

On Latin Americanists, there are what the job ads say and then what people actually do. Lots of Cubans only really work on Cuba, despite a few side trips into another country or two. Lots of people specialize in an author or genre and then effectively, a country. I am not saying this is bad.

profacero said...

... OK but now I see, on the Latin Americanists, I get the larger point.

profacero said...

...although I have problems with this coverage by region -- it effectively means many countries get entirely neglected. Advertise for Andean and then try to hire someone who is not a Peruvianist, you will get resistance. I don't know if going by period or genre improves things, there is always this push to emphasize the already prominent authors and so on