Eduardo Lago

MA, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain. PhD, Graduate Center, City University of New York. Special interests in translation theory, the aesthetics of the Baroque, and the connections among contemporary US Latino, Iberian, Spanish American, and Luso-Brazilian fiction writers. Author of Ladrón de mapas (Map Thief), a collection of short stories published in September 2007; Cuentos disperses (Scattered Tales), a collection of short stories, and Cuaderno de Méjico (Mexican Notebook), a memoir of a trip to Chiapas, both published in 2000. First novel Llámame Brooklyn (Call Me Brooklyn) in 2006 won Spain’s Nadal Prize and the City of Barcelona Award for best novel of the year, the Fundación Lara Award for the novel with the best critical reception, the National Critics Award, and best novel of the year in Spain by El Mundo. Recipient of the 2002 Bartolomé March Award for Excellence in Literary Criticism. Currently director of Instituto Cervantes of New York. SLC, 1994–

Undergraduate Courses 2017-2018

Spanish

Beginning Spanish

Open , Seminar—Year

The aim of this course is to enable students without previous knowledge of the language to develop the skills necessary to achieve effective levels of communication in Spanish. From the start, students will be in touch with authentic Spanish-language materials in the form of newspaper articles, films, songs, and poems, as well as short literary and non-literary texts. In the regular class meetings, we will actively implement a wide range of techniques aimed at creating an atmosphere of dynamic oral exchange. The acquisition of grammar structures will develop from the exploitation of everyday situations through the incorporation of a wide set of functional-contextual activities. Group conferences will help hone conversational skills and focus on individual needs. Both in class and in small group conferences, we will explore the multiple resources provided by the Internet, retrieving all sorts of textual and visual tools that later will be collectively exploited by the group. The viewing of films, documentaries, and episodes of popular TV series, as well as the reading of blogs and digital publications, will take place outside the seminar meetings and serve as the basis of class discussions and debates. Weekly conversation sessions with the language assistant are an integral part of the course.

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Intermediate Spanish II: Culture in the Information Age

Intermediate , Seminar—Year

This course is taught in Spanish. Please take the Spanish placement test prior to interviewing with the instructor.

Once students have reached the linguistic command required to work at an advanced-intermediate level, they are in an ideal position to begin to explore the numerous resources that can be found on the Internet. Instrumentally, we will focus on the multiple uses of Spanish to be found in the virtual world, making use of its many possibilities such as blogs, newspapers, magazines, and other formats. We will identify the most relevant Web pages from the Spanish-speaking world, extract the adequate information, and exploit it in class jointly, making the necessary adjustments. Access to authentic sources from all over the Spanish-speaking world will give us an excellent idea of the varieties of the language used in more than 20 countries. We will explore all forms of culture, paying special attention to audiovisual resources such as interviews, documentaries, TV programs, and other formats—all of which will be incorporated into the course of study, complete or in fragments, depending on the level of difficulty. Art, film, music, photography, theatre, science, politics, comics, video games, gastronomy—all forms and manifestations of culture, high and low—will be the object of our attention, as long as the vehicle of expression is Spanish. We will minimize the use of printed matter, which will be devoted mainly to a more classical exploration of grammar. The class as a whole, as well as students on an individual basis, will be encouraged to locate different kinds of materials on the Internet. Weekly conversation sessions with the language assistants, in small groups, are required.

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Previous Courses

First-Year Studies: New Literature from Europe

Open , FYS—Year

Perhaps more than anything else, literature defines the identity of cultures and nations. At the same time, few cultural manifestations help to bring together peoples and cultures as powerfully as literature, which gives a special significance to the fact that only three percent of the books published in the United States are translations. In a world where technology has made borders obsolete in many ways, the lack of curiosity for the great literatures of the world is an alarming symptom of North America’s cultural isolation. Starting with Latin America, all continents have an astonishing wealth of literatures. Europe is just one of them. The seat of ancient civilizations and empires that conquered the rest of the world, the Europe of today is dramatically different from what it once was. After two world wars and the collapse of formidable utopias, contemporary European reality is extraordinarily elusive and complex. Forty languages are spoken in almost as many European countries nowadays, each of them representing a vibrant body of literature. In this course, we will study the literary manifestations of the new Europe, paying special attention to her youngest authors. In our approach, we will focus on sociopolitical displacements such as the reshaping of the European identities, resulting from the influx of immigrants from all over the world, and the conflicts derived from the dream of a unity that coexists with the birth of a whole set of youthful countries that transcend the notion of nationality—ethnically, culturally, and linguistically.

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Advanced Spanish: In the Newsroom

Advanced , Seminar—Fall

By special permission only.

This course will operate on two main levels. First, it will serve as an introduction to journalism as it is practiced today throughout the Spanish-speaking world. We will closely monitor how the main Spanish-language online journals, newspapers, and blogs function on a daily basis, paying special attention to the coverage of culture and the arts. In the seminar, we will operate as a real newsroom, serving to consolidate the structure of Sobremesa, Sarah Lawrence’s Latino online journal founded two years ago and published once each semester. The implementation of this project will require a continuous collaboration among editors, staff writers, photographers, and at least one graphic designer. Students taking this class will have to produce original pieces covering all aspects of cultural information, including profiles, interviews, essays, general and specialized articles, and book, theatre, dance, and film reviews in addition to all forms of written, graphic, and audiovisual reportage. Those in charge of the different sections of the publication will contact outside collaborators, requesting original contributions. A second, extremely important aspect of this course is that it will serve as a translation workshop at a professional level. Since Sobremesa admits submissions in Spanish, English, and Portuguese, all texts must be translated in order to ensure that they can be accessed in all three languages. A section of the online magazine (Burnt Eyelashes) will be devoted to the publication of conference projects dealing with Latino topics. Conference work will be geared toward the consolidation of the skills required to maintain all areas of our publication (photography, design, translation, textual and visual editing, etc.) in perfect shape, but it will also result in the crystallization of a specific contribution to be featured in the issue that will be published at the end of the semester. A solid command of Spanish is required.

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Literature in Spanish: Contemporary Narrative Works in Spanish.

Advanced , Seminar—Fall

This seminar will focus on the narrative production of the Spanish-speaking world. In our approach, we will explore the multiple cultural and historical connections that have always linked the literary traditions of Latin America and Spain, also taking into consideration a few representative works by US Latino writers. Chronologically, the works under study will belong to two distinct phases. First, we will examine fictional works published by Spanish-language authors in recent years, paying special attention to the literary production of Latin America when the younger generations of writers began to move away from the legacy of magic realism and open up their works to preoccupations shared by coetaneous authors from all corners of the world. In a second phase, we will concentrate on major works written by some of the most important representatives of the Spanish language canon active during the second half of the 20th century. Works under study will include novels and short fiction by Roberto Bolaño, César Aira, Alejandro Zambra, Guadalupe Nettel, Felipe Alfau, Junot Díaz, Cristina Rivera Garza, Roberto Artl, Horacio Quiroga, Julio Cortázar, and Felisberto Hernández.

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Beginning Spanish

Open , Seminar—Year

The aim of this course is to enable students without previous knowledge of Spanish to develop the skills necessary to achieve effective levels of communication in the language. From the start, students will be immersed in a monolingual environment. In the regular class meetings, we will actively implement a wide range of techniques aimed at creating an atmosphere of dynamic oral exchange. The acquisition of grammar structures will develop from the exploitation of everyday situations through the incorporation of a wide set of functional/contextual activities. Group conferences will help hone conversational skills and focus on individual needs. Both in class and in conference, we will explore the multiple resources provided by the Internet, retrieving all sorts of textual and visual Spanish-language materials. Later, these will be collectively exploited by the group. The viewing of films, documentaries, and segments of TV series, as well as the reading of blogs and digital publications, will take place outside the seminar meetings, serving as the basis of class discussions and debates. Weekly conversation sessions with the language assistant are an integral part of the course.

Faculty

Spanish Language Authors of the 21st Century

Open , Seminar—Spring

Conditioned by swift technological advances and radical sociopolitical changes, what was hitherto known as the abiding space of literature has become a place of infinitely elastic crossings and exchanges. Formerly well-established boundaries such as national origin or language of expression have become rather porous. Twenty-first century writers feel that they have entered uncharted territories in which reading, writing, and publishing have taken on altogether new meanings. In this class, we will study the most recent literary production of the Spanish-speaking world as fully integrated in a rapidly shifting global map. The contours of the cultural paradigm inhabited by the younger generations of writers across the globe are subject to new currents of cross-cultural interdependence. An example: David Foster Wallace and Roberto Bolaño are arguably the two most influential authors for contemporary Spanish and Latin American writers whose preoccupations are to forge new literary idioms. Such juncture demands a radically new way of approaching the latest literary productions from the Spanish-speaking world. As a corollary of the transnational, cross-cultural preoccupations of these writers, new textual crystallizations that defy generic classification have come into being. These include the contemporary chronicle; new forms of journalism, essays, and reportage; and the emergence of technology-based creative works. Authors to be studied include Roberto Bolaño, Alvaro Enrigue, Jordi Soler, Valeria Luiselli, Juan Pablo Villalobos, Enrique Vila-Matas, Javier Marías, Alejandro Zambra, and Guadalupe Nettel—along with others whose work was never meant to appear on paper.

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US Latino Writers

Open , Seminar—Fall

The history of Latino literature begins in 1848, when the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo was signed and half of the territory of Mexico became part of the United States. A multitude of Spanish names were then integrated into the toponomy of the northern nation. In most cases, their meanings are transparent: Colorado, Montana, Nevada, Los Angeles. Other names have a more recondite history: California was an island featured in a chivalric novel published in 1510. Its inhabitants were black Amazons who lived under the rule of Queen Calafia. The deep relationship between ancient Spanish texts and contemporary works by Latino writers is evident in the novels of Rolando Hinojosa-Smith, the dean of Chicano letters, who used titles from Castilian accounts of the 15th century in some of his works. As Hinojosa-Smith’s compound last name reveals, the complex relationship between English and Spanish underlines the development of the Hispanic literatures of the United States. Hinojosa himself switched from writing in Spanish to English in the middle of his career. Most Latino authors write in English, but the sustained strength of Spanish in the communities that they represent makes them acutely aware of the importance of the language of their ancestors, which permeates and inflects their works in significant ways. Hispanic-American writers belong to a set of communities with different national origins, but a constant process of exchange and interaction among them has resulted in the consolidation of a shared identity. In different degrees, Mexicans, Cubans, Dominicans, Puerto Ricans, and Central and South Americans living in the United States feel that they are part of a larger Latino community. Language plays an important role in this phenomenon. Fueled by a continuously renovated influx of immigrants, the constant interaction between different communities is resulting in the creation of a new variety of Spanish in this country. In this course, we will study the literatures of the different US communities of Latin American origin from their inception to recent times. Some authors whose work we will study are Josephina Niggli, Nicholassa Mohr, Sandra Cisneros, Julia Alvarez, Oscar Hijuelos, Dagoberto Gilb, Cristina García, John Rechy, Francisco Goldman, Ana Menéndez, and Daniel Alarcón

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