Month: November 2016

A SNAPSHOT FROM LAST WEEK’S LANGSA CONFERENCE: RYAN EVELYN PRESENTS

On Friday morning at the LANGSA conference during the panel centered around Queer migrations, LCL graduate student Ryan Evelyn delivered his paper, “Small Places, Voiceless Faces: Ambiguity and Cultural Displacement in Two Novels by Gide and Guibert.” Ryan discussed gender representations, specifically the representation of masculinity in homosexuality as well as the concepts of cultural migration and spatial dichotomy in the two novels Les Faux-Monnayeurs, written in 1925 by André Gide, and À l’ami qui ne m’a pas sauvé la vie, written in 1990 by Hervé Guibert. Ryan went on to compare and contrast the spatial representations of homosexuality in the two novels, making the distinction between the private domain and public domain. Through his analysis, Ryan demonstrated the migration from the private to the public domain that took place in time between the publications of the two novels. Ryan’s research brings to light questions of self-acceptance and marginalization, ideas that remain pertinent to discussions of identity within the homosexual community.

Ryan Evelyn is a second-year Master’s student studying French and Francophone literature in the Department of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages at the University of Connecticut. Though his research focuses primarily on the Early-Modern and Renaissance periods, he dabbles in literature of the 20th century. Gender, representations of masculine homosexuality, and spatial dichotomies remain at the forefront of his research.

Ryan Evelyn
Ryan Evelyn

A Visit From Raul Aguiar

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On Monday, October 24th Cuban poet Raul Aguiar visited UConn’s Latin American Cultural Center to give a talk and workshop on the manipulation of the Spanish language within fictional writing.

 

Aguiar’s narrative writing seminars usually take place at the state-owned Onelio Jorge Cardoso Literary Center named after the famous Cuban storyteller and located in Habana. Classes are free of charge and provide Cuban students with the opportunity to learn about narrative techniques and the great classics of the history of Hispanic literature while practicing their storytelling skills in an interactive and amusing way. Even though the center is not lucrative, the author thinks its near-future existence is not threatened. The center often hosts prestigious writers such as José Saramago and features annual, short-fiction competitions in which the winners receive funding for their writing projects and have the possibility of publishing them afterwards. Over 1000 students have graduated from the center, among them LCL graduate student, Milena Almira.

 

We were excited by the diverse audience and relaxed environment of the event. Aguiar explained, in Spanish, “English is magnificient to speak of business, German to talk about war, French and Italian to talk about romance, and Spanish to speak with the gods.” Aguiar then engaged undergraduate students, graduate students, and faculty in a conversation on the flexibility that exists within the syntactical structures of the Spanish language. Aguiar argued that Spanish offers an almost infinite liberty to exchange phrases and verbs, changing where the weight of the phrase lays, in order to convey different meaning or evoke various feelings in the reader.

 

During his workshop the novelist reflected on Cuban literary trends within the last decades. According to Aguiar, his generation avoided conflicts. This prepared the ground for topics that had never been examined before, such as youth diversity. He also spoke about how the current generation of Cuban writers likes experimenting with different literary genres and writing shorter stories due to the influence of blogs and social media platforms such as Twitter. Aguiar’s most recent work, by contrast, has been inspired by his love for hard rock music. While listening to it in English, he wrote La estrella boca arriba, a book about rock bands and the symbols surrounding them. A new edition of his novel has just been published in Spanish.

 

Aguiar also offered valuable advice to us as writers. All of us, whether student or faculty, have experienced writer’s block. Aguiar explained that when this happens the best thing to do is to revert back to the most simple sentences to express our thoughts. Upon getting the idea on paper, we can then start to re-order phrases and words to better evoke feeling and voice behind the language.

 

If you would like to support the center or learn more about Aguiar and his work, please contact Professor Jacqueline Loss at jacqueline.loss@uconn.edu.

 

Phoebe Giannisi presents HOMERICA at UConn

jtphoebe-giannisi-homerica-event1On October 18th internationally renowned Greek-poet Phoebe Giannisi came to UConn to offer a reading of her dramatic performance of poetry. The event was co-organized by the Literary Translation Program, launched by LCL Professor Peter Constantine, and the Creative Writing Program. Giannisi presented various poems of her book Homerica in Greek, while her translator, the UConn Ph.D. student in English and Literary Translation Studies, Brian Sneeden, read them in English. Many of Giannisi’s poems evoke or are named after Classical Greek mythological figures such as Achilles, Penelope and Orpheus. Among the highlights of her performance was her original piece Tettix (‘Cicada’ in Ancient Greek), which talks about erotic desire, poetry, melody inspiration, metamorphosis, and death. While writing the poems, Giannisi described her care for how the poem would be heard rhythmically, at the border of song and reading. Since  Homeric poetry was recited by heart with very strong rhythmic patterns, she thought of making a DVD that would accompany her book. In this way, while listening to the poems, the audience could see the locations where the poems were recorded in Mount Pelion in Greece, creating a compelling audiovisual experience that captured the special atmosphere of each place. Tettix is one of Giannisi’s most successful works and was exhibited in the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Athens.

 

Trained in Architecture and Classics, Giannisi is an Associate Professor at the University of Thessaly in Greece and co-edits FRMK, a biannual journal of poetry, poetics, and visual arts. She has published five books of poetry and her poems present a spectacular range of styles covering three millennia of Greek history. She has a distinctive approach to poetry, as something “that comes out of the body and connects with the orality and musicality of language without following strict rules.” Her poems are written in a fusion of languages including Ancient and Modern Greek and local Greek dialects. Giannisi’s work lies between poetry performance, theory and installation, and explores the connections between language, voice, and writing with body, place, and memory. Brian Sneeden describes translating her poems as “a transformative experience.” He  commented that “Phoebe Giannisi’s poems require a certain capacity for surrender – both in terms of how one experiences language and its perceived boundaries, but also in regards to the boundaries of English, which does not draw quite as easily as Greek from a vocabulary steeped in so ancient a history.”

 

For more information about her poetry, visit Giannisi’s website: phoebegiannisi.net