Author of the Month: Claire MartinPublished: July 15, 2011
Cien Años Después: La Literatura de Mujeres en America Latina
Claire Martin, Professor of Spanish, Romance/German/Russian Languages and Literatures
Published in 2010 by the University San Martín de Porres Press, in Lima, Peru. Cien Años Después: La Literatura de Mujeres en America Latina is based on a CSULB conference Claire Martin and former M.A. student Nelly Goswitz organized in 2009 to celebrate two Peruvian women writers of the 19th century titled: “A Hundred Years Later: Latin American Women’s Literature and the Legacy of Mercedes Cabello de Carbonera and Clorinda Matto de Turner.” The new text is the result of her year-long sabbatical in Ankara, Turkey, accompanied by her husband who was working on a Fulbright. The volume highlights the work of the four distinguished keynote speakers who presented their original research at the conference as well as a selection of the conference presentations. The selected articles are grouped according to historical periods and authors to offer an overview of women’s writing in Latin America starting with the 19th century. “These writers represented women’s first incursion into the political and public arenas,” she explained. “They became active as cultural and political voices in their own countries where there was a scant tradition of women artists leaving the domestic sphere to come into the public one. Their writing gave them agency over the political destiny of their own emerging republics. But they incurred the wrath not only of politicians and a conservative society, but of the Catholic Church as well. For instance, Clorinda Matto de Turner was excommunicated and had to flee to Argentina where she died in 1909, and Mercedes Cabello de Carbonera was institutionalized for her, among many things, ‘unfeminine behavior’”. The field of 19th-century women writing in Latin America is a relatively recent one. The first critical anthologies appeared in the early ’90s and scattered articles were published in the ’70s and ’80s. Little was known about what Latin American women wrote for newspapers and magazines of the times. “They wrote under men’s pseudonyms and hosted literary salons where they welcomed other new writers, both women and men,” she said. “It gave them great influence at the cultural and political levels at the onset of the independence movements that would galvanize the peoples of Latin America during the early decades of the 19th century.” Martin believes her new book symbolizes what the RGRLL faculty does day in and day out. “We all try to inspire, encourage and bring into the classroom a true intellectual dialogue,” she said.
Martin rates the original conference as a “total success” that went beyond her expectations. “It was wonderful,” she said. “It was incredibly fun and successful. We had great scholars presenting with graduate students and faculty members who moderated panels and participated in the discussions. We had a wonderful reception and the support of the Dean (Gerry) Riposa; Dean (Roman) Kochan; my colleagues, Lisa Vollendorf, Clorinda Donato, Bonnie Gasior, Alicia del Campo, Cindy McCarty, Kim Glick; our librarian, Eileen Bosch; Leslie Kennedy, the office of the Provost; the Spanish Club, and so many more who made the conference truly enjoyable and successful.” Martin is currently at work on two other book projects with Goswitz on 19th-century women writers, researching a 19th-century noble Scottish woman’s travel to Patagonia and will visit Scotland for her second trip in July. Martin comes to CSULB from Argentina and is fluent in English, Spanish, French, and has working knowledge of Italian and Portuguese. Martin, who joined the university in 1988, earned her B.A. and M.A. from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, and her Ph.D. from Yale in 1988.