Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Review of the IX ALEPH Congress (10th-13th April 2012, University of Cádiz)

Last week, from the 10th to the 13th of April, took place the 9th congress of the Asociación de Jóvenes Investigadores de la Literatura Hispánica (ALEPH) in Cádiz, at the Facultad de Filología y Letras. This has been the most successful congress since the founding of the association, with more than 150 speakers from different European countries, as can be seen in the extensive programme (available here). On this occasion, the interesting topic "Escritura y disidencia: textos literarios hispánicos en busca de la libertad" has attracted pre-doctoral students from various fields of the research in Hispanic literature, with a massive representation of Latin-Americanists. As in the previous congress, the I3MS has been able to send someone to attend this year's edition and write this first-hand review.

Do you know how it feels seeing the sea from the classroom window? I did not, but this was my first impression of the University of Cádiz. Situated at the side of the sea, in a white and red brick building, the Facultad de Filosofía y Letras invited more to spend the day on the beach than listening to papers. Fortunately, the programme of the congress was wide and interesting enough to keep people indoors and "hooked" on the papers.

After the welcoming session, the first plenary presentation by Dr. José Jurado (Universidad de Cádiz) defined the general tone of the congress: subversive, critical and non-conformist (in both directions: conservative and progressive). Thereafter, thematically organised parallel sessions took place, so that I will be able to review just some of them.

On account of their relevance for the I3MS, I want to make stand out the paper by Blanca Ballester (Universitat de Barcelona) “Señor, no me lo mandéis”: La reinvindicación de la voz poética femenina en los villancicos dialogados de Juan del Encina, in which she analysed the invention of the feminine voice in courtly amorous poetry at the end of the XVth century from a genderised point of view. This voice was completely different to the feminine voice in previous literature and obviously influenced by the masculine point of view of love poetry up to the time. The following paper, "Sin libro nuevo no hay contento": mujeres y caballerías en el Siglo de Oro, by Pedro Álvarez (Universidad de Oviedo), was as interesting as the previous one, and informed us about the popularity of "libros de caballerías" among women and questioned why there are not so many known women writers of this kind of texts. This interesting approach has shown to be very frutiful and I cannot wait to read the conclusions by Pedro Álvarez when he finishes his research.

The next session dealt with texts of the Golden Age, with a first paper by Jessica Roade (Universidad de Vigo) on La privación de la libertad en "El vaquero de Moraña": del encierro al exilio, an almost unknown work by Lope de Vega that she analised from the point of view of the topic of freedom. This paper was followed by the very interesting paper El grito de la libertad de un morisco español expulsado: análisis de un discurso anti-cristiano en el "Tratado de los dos caminos", which gave us an unusual view of the expulsion of the Moorish, told from the perspective of an exiled "morisco" living in Turkey. This is the counterpart of the accounts from the Christian-Spanish point of view and reveals a pseudo-mystical interpretation of this expulsion that should be analysed in depth. Finally, “Porque es mi libertad / muy preciada…” La nostalgia de la libertad perdida y anhelada: Representaciones, expresiones y reivindicaciones en el "Aula" by Mª del Rosario Martínez (Universidad de Sevilla) provided us with a good general overview of the topic of the court as a "mare malorum" and the criticism of Cristóbal de Castillejo, who had a first-hand knowledge of the life at the court. Among the remaining papers of the day, it is important to highlight the one by Cecilia Angélica Cortés (Universidad de Salamanca) La elaboración del catálogo de sermones impresos novohispanos del siglo XVII de la Biblioteca Nacional de México, which demonstrated how important is the study of material bibliography, so neglected by certain modern scholars nowadays.

The next day opened with a divulgation plenary session on the "trobairitz" by Dra Antonia Víñez (Universidad de Cádiz) and was followed by a paper by one I3MS member, Amaranta Saguar (University of Oxford), who talked about "Celestina", as usual, with a paper entitled Las premisas bíblicas de un silogismo falaz: "Celestina" y Eclesiástico 13. In it she analysed the argumentation techniques of Celestina and related it to opposition to university teaching of the time. Carmen Benítez (Universidad de Sevilla) gave a paper afterwards on the interesting topic of queenship and propaganda with the title Subvertir la  realidad: los lugares perdidos en Ribacôa y la Crónica de Fernando IV. Un ejemplo de propaganda molinista, that showed how chronicles can be used to legitimate a certain political attitude. The afternoon was dominated by papers on Golden Age authors and works such as Góngora, Quevedo or short theatre writers.

On Thursday, new technologies gained prominence with the paper El microrrelato en la era digital: ¿Una transgresión institucionalizada o emergente? by Mª Begoña Díez (Universidad de Santiago de Compostela), in which medium and text were analysed together. Contemporary and Latin-American literature dominated afterwards, before the Asamblea General, in which the new Standing Committee was chosen.

Unfortunately, I had to leave early on Friday, so I was not able to attend any of the sessions that day. In any case, the congress was very interesting and the organisation was satisfactory, above all because it is very difficult to coordinate 150 speakers in only three days and a half. The next edition will take place in Torino (Italy) and I hope it will be at least as interesting as this 9th edition of the ALEPH congress in Cádiz was.

See you there!
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