Modern Language Association Convention 2013

Modern Language Association Staff Correspondent :: The Modern Language Association Convention, first held in 1883, is the annual gathering of teachers and scholars in the field of language and literature study.  Bringing together thousands of professors from around the world, the 2013 MLA convention will take place at the Hynes Convention Center and the Sheraton Hotel in Boston from January 3rd through January 6th.  A featured highlight of the program is a two part special event by Giannina Braschi, one of the most original and versatile dramatic voices in contemporary American and Latin American literature.

 At 7pm on Saturday, January 5th, Giannna Braschi will perform dramatic scenes from her critically acclaimed new work in UNITED STATES OF BANANA, hailed “The Wasteland of the 21st Century” by The Evergreen Review. The reading follows an afternoon panel, entitled “UNITED STATES OF BANANA: Revolutionary in Subject and Form” by a diverse range of scholars including Arnaldo Cruz Malave from Fordham, Cristina Garrigos from University of Leon/Spain, and Martiza Stanchich of the University of Puerto Rico. Moderating the panel is Tess O’Dwyer, editor and translator of Braschi’s postmodern classics EMPIRE OF DREAMS and YO-YO BOING!  Attendees recieve review copies of Braschi’s books, compliments of the publisher.

With a Ph.D. in the Spanish Golden Age from the State University of New York-Stony Brook, Giannina Braschi taught Hispanic Literatures and Creative Writing at Rutgers University, City University of New York, and Colgate University where she served as Chair of Creative Writing and Distinguished Writer-in-Residence. On the scholarly front, she published a book on the Spanish Romantic poet Bécquer and essays on classics by Cervantes, Garcilaso, Lorca, Machado, and Vallejo. Braschi has won awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, El Diario/La Prensa, PEN American Center, Ford Foundation, Danforth Scholarship, InterAmericas, Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña, and Reed Foundation. Her works have appeared in English, Spanish, Italian, Chinese, and Swedish translations.

“The dynamic potential of a cross-cultural dialogue and encounters in the context of globalization is a key theme in the starling performance novel of Puerto Rico’s premier poet and novelist Giannina Braschi,” wrote Madelena Gonzales and Helene Laplace-Claverie in their new book “Minority Theatre on the Global Stage: Challenging Paradigms from the Margins”.”UNITED STATES OF BANANA brings together Hamlet, Zarathustra, and Giannina herself who embark on a quest to free Segismundo, the hero of Calderón de la Barca’s 17th century play, from the dungeon of the Statue of Liberty where he is being held prisoner. Staged in a surreal post 911 New York and written in a defamiliarized Spanglish, it quickly becomes clear that the journey is a politically-charged metaphor for the fall of the US Empire and the collapse of the World Trade Centre as well as a plea for the subject minorities to free themselves from the yoke of domination by the majority, whether it be economic, linguistic or ideological. Stuttering and stammering in a hybrid tongue that contrasts with that of the well-spoken majority, Braschi uses language to travel along new and always unexpected pathways, making her work an intercultural explosion capable of breaking the bonds that constrain the minority. By creating her own foreign language, she illustrates Deleuze’s theory of continuous variation and the process of being “a nomad and an immigrant and a gypsy in relation to one’s language” which, for him, epitomizes the concept of the minority and eliminates the elements of the power and authority that are sources of oppression in the hands of the majority.”

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