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“Developing Identity and Agency as a Scholar”

Alexandra Gonzenbach Perkins
Book Chapters The University of Alabama Honors College Book Project (in press).

Abstract

This chapter reflects upon narrative as a central tool for creating identity and agency as both a scholar and as a human being. Again, narrative is part of our everyday lives, yet it is not something we reflect upon regularly. This chapter considers what happens when we become aware of the role narrative plays in our lives and in the relationships we develop with others. As we develop an awareness of the ubiquity of narrative in our lives, we begin to understand the impact it has for our ever-evolving sense of self as well as the impact our identity has upon the world around us, both globally and locally.

Representing Queer and Transgender Identity: Fluid Bodies in the Hispanic Caribbean and Beyond

Alexandra Gonzenbach Perkins
Books Lewisburg: Bucknell UP, 2017.

Abstract

Fluid Bodies traces the intersections of global movement with transgender and queer identities from authors and artists of the Hispanic Caribbean. Utilizing the theme of fluidity and travel, Fluid Bodies analyzes novels, graphic novels, theatre, and performance art. These works demonstrate how transgender and queer bodies redefine belonging, particularly national belonging, through global movement and community making practices. Through these genres, the text follows the movement of transgender and queer identities from textual spaces to spaces of the body. The gradual movement from text to body—as it occurs in these genres—demonstrates the variety of representational strategies that dismantle binary readings of gender, sexuality, and nationality.

Transgender visibility is a pressing social issue, and today’s transgender moment will be a social and political necessity for years to come. Of particular importance are representations of transgender and/or queer people of color. The field of transgender representation is growing, and Fluid Bodies adds to the visibility of transgender and queer identity from the Hispanic Caribbean. By investigating the relationship between novels, graphic novels, theatre, and performance art, Fluid Bodies emphasizes how each work plays on and against the separation of language and the body, and how Hispanic Caribbean authors and artists represent transgender and queer identity in order to redefine cultural and national belonging in various geographic spaces.

“We are family: Translocations of queer kinship in Mayra Santos-Febres’ Sirena Selena vestida de pena.”

Alexandra Gonzenbach Perkins
Peer-Reviewed Journal Article Chasqui 46.1 (2017): 70-83.

Abstract

I analyze the ways in which Mayra Santos-Febres’ novel Sirena Selena vestida de pena (2000) challenges the construction and enactment of subjectivity with relation to categories of identity. In this novel, the representation of transnational movement undoes the concept of identity as a discrete, closed categorization. I investigate the ways in which the intermediary, interstitial, and still very real space of transnational movement becomes a location where authors begin to reshape the relationship between temporal, spatial, and social borders and the bodies these borders attempt to define.

““All the in-between places are my home”: Representing fluidity in Jamie Cortez’s Sexile/Sexilio.”

Alexandra Gonzenbach Perins
Conference Presentation XXXV International Congress of the Latin American Studies Association, Lima, Perú, April 29 - May 1, 2017

Abstract

In Jaime Cortez’s 2004 graphic novel Sexile/Sexilio, the sea embodies the representational possibilities for identity by illustrating the experiences of Adela Vazquez, a Latina trans woman exiled from Cuba in the 1980s. The story recounts her childhood, exile, acclimation to the United States, and her transition. In this presentation, I analyze how the sea functions as an intermediary space of potentiality in this text. I consider how the ideological, cultural, and gendered spaces of both Cuba and the United States challenge essentialized identities through the movement of Adela’s body, both as she is represented in the space of the graphic novel and through the multiple references to the sea, water, and fluidity. Water symbolizes Adela’s experiences of exile and transgender identity. It marks the fluidity of both experiences and positions identity, be it gendered or national, as an ever-evolving process of becoming. Water also functions as a space of healing, in which Adela comes to realize that “all the in-between places are my home” (64). Utilizing the themes of fluidity and travel, I demonstrate how Adela’s experience of Latina transgender identity redefines belonging, particularly national belonging, through global movement and community making practices. I investigate the ways in which the intermediary, interstitial, and still very real spaces of geography, nationality, and gender become locations that reshape the relationship between spatial, ideological, and gendered borders, as well as the bodies these borders attempt to define.

“The Power of Transformation: Performance, Transience, and Agency in Puerto Rican Trans Communities.”

Alexandra Gonzenbach Perins
Conference Presentation Culture as Resource Symposium, Miami, April 7-8, 2017

Abstract

She. She draws the line across her cupid’s bow. A daily occurrence, a special occasion. She rouges her lips, contours her cheekbones. Perhaps she has a date, maybe she is going to work. Or maybe she is preparing for her debut. April Carrión, Zahara Montier, Queen Bee Ho, Ru Paul. These are some of the protagonists of Mala mala, a documentary film from 2014 directed by Dan Sickles and Antonio Santini. The transformistas, the dragas, the drag queens. However, Mala mala works beyond the transformista scene of Puerto Rico, extending its field of representation to the wider trans community. The film highlights the transgender and transsexual activist work of Ivana Fred, Sandy, and Paxx. The camera gives voice to the histories of Sophia, Soraya, and Sandy. The crux of representation in Mala mala is the body. The body is always performing, and its performance is always political. This documentary demonstrates how trans individuals and communities in Puerto Rico create agency through performance, whether in the context of highly stylized drag performances, political manifestations, or the quotidian performatives of gender identity. However, if performance is ephemeral, fleeting, or impermanent, how can it be an effective tool for political recognition? Transience as a theoretical framework offers new ways of understanding the political efficacy of performance, specifically in trans communities. Following Matthew Reason, “Ultimately, transience becomes a description not only of the ontology of the live performance, but also an aesthetic value in its own right and a political statement of the ideology of performance” (11). This ideology, focusing on immediacy, urgency, and transformative possibility, opens new paradigms for understanding trans agency and identity.

Review of Macho Ethics: Masculinity and Self-Representation in Latino-Caribbean Narrative, by Jason Cortés (Lewisburg: Bucknell UP, 2015).

Alexandra Gonzenbach Perkins
Book Reviews Hispanic Review 84.4 (2016): 480-483.

“Queer Affect and Transnational Movement in Yolanda Arroyo Pizarro’s Caparazones.”

Alexandra Gonzenbach Perkins
Peer-Reviewed Journal Article Romance Studies 34.2 (2016): 89-100.

Abstract

Yolanda Arroyo Pizarro’s novel Caparazones (2010) questions the formation and enactment of subjectivity with relation to categories of identity. I argue that by positioning the protagonists of Caparazones as transnational subjects, Arroyo Pizarro creates queer possibilities of family and kinship that challenge heteronormative formulations of identity, belonging, time, and space. Transnational movement reformulates subjecthood as a stable and identifiable position and complicates the relationship between nationality, expression of gender and sexuality, and affective bonds.

“Trans representation in Jaime Cortez’s Sexilio.”

Alexandra Gonzenbach Perins
Conference PresentationMSU Classical & Modern Languages & Literatures Symposium, Starkville, September 30-October 1, 2016

Abstract

In the past two decades, the graphic novel has become as a particularly strong vehicle for representing queer, marginalized, or dissident identities. The graphic novel presents a space of representation that acknowledges the fluidity of expression, both through language and through the body. For this presentation, I look to the intersections of Cuban exile, transgender identity, and educational activism in Jaime Cortez’s graphic text Sexilio (2004). Sexilio blends visual imagery with poetic text to tell the true story of Adela Vázquez, who leaves Cuba in 1980 in order to escape the nation’s oppressive policies towards the LGBTQ community.

In this presentation, I argue that the visual components of Sexilio help to foster a queer transnational exile community, both in the United States and in Cuba. Cortez utilizes narrative, both through text and visual elements, not only to create a literary and artistic space of trans potentiality, but also to provide lifesaving information regarding the spread of HIV to vulnerable communities. The text provides vital information for the transgender, Spanish-speaking community in Los Angeles, New York, and the greater Spanish-speaking diaspora. Sexilio is not a typical tri-fold informational pamphlet. Rather, lifesaving information is presented through humor, sadness, and love. The visual elements of Sexilio create a space of representation for queer articulations of identity. These representations are novel, contradictory, and representative of the fluidity of gender, identity, and nationality.

“Un pacto tácito: Escritura y poder en Autobiografía del esclavo poeta de Juan Francisco Manzano.”

Alexandra Gonzenbach Perkins
Peer-Reviewed Journal Article Decimonónica. 11.2 (2014): 52-69.

Abstract

En este ensayo analizo cómo Juan Francisco Manzano utiliza y subvierte los parámetros tradicionales de la autobiografía para construir un nuevo concepto de sujeto en una sociedad, Cuba, y época, el siglo diecinueve, que niegan dicha condición a ciertas personas.  Propongo que el concepto de autobiografía propuesto por Lejeune debe alterarse porque lo que él considera sujeto capaz de producir texto autobiográfico deja fuera de consideración otras construcciones de sujeto. Primero, analizo lo que yo denomino “la autobiografía del texto,” es decir, como se engendra el texto tal y como lo conocemos hoy. Examinaré cómo los cambios y las transformaciones que Manzano desarrolla en su proyecto de autoinscripción alejan su texto del pacto autobiográfico, acercándolo más a los proyectos que responden más al zeitgeist acerca de la formación de una identidad no solo nacional (a nivel de Cuba) sino también transatlántica. La multiplicidad de discursos con que se compone el texto de Manzano exige que se amplíe la definición del género autobiográfico, para entender como el sujeto ‘yo’ es un ‘yo’ orgánico y evolutivo. Es más, defiendo que las alteraciones son parte de las innovaciones que el romanticismo lleva a cabo en distintos campos culturales, sean literarios, históricos, pictóricos, políticos, económicos o filosóficos.

“Loose Tongues/Promiscuous Identities: Linguistic Register and Code-switching as Catalysts of Intersectionality in ‘Pollito Chicken’ and Dominicanish.”

Alexandra Gonzenbach
Peer-Reviewed Journal Article Letras Femeninas 39.2 (2013): 9-25.

Abstract

Winner of the Tenth Annual Feministas Unidas Graduate Student Essay Prize, 2012. This essay applies and incorporates the concept of intersectionality as described by Kimberlé Crenshaw in her seminal essay “Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence against Women of Color,” to the process of code-switching at play in the short story 'Pollito Chicken' by Ana Lydia Vega (1977) and Dominicanish, a performance text written and performed by Josefina Báez (2001). While a direct linguistic analysis of these works is necessary, it does not answer the question as to why these two authors incorporate the phenomenon in their texts, and how this phenomenon relates to questions of gender, race, nationality, and identity. It is important to consider the works in the entirety of their representation, which means looking at more than frequency and types of code-switching and considering what is at stake in utilizing this particular linguistic phenomenon. Considering the works through the theoretical lens of intersectionality, analyses go beyond questions of Spanish versus English, and consider how language, particularly code-switching, opens possibilities for representation not present in monolingual discourse. This essay argues that code-switching, as represented in both works, highlights characteristics of intersectionality in distinct ways which allow each author to represent the multiplicity of identities that form diasporic subjects.

“Bleeding Borders: Abjection and Female Body Art.”

Alexandra Gonzenbach
Peer-Reviewed Journal Article Letras Femeninas 37.1 (2011): 31- 46.

Abstract

The female body is politically inscribed within a hegemonic, masculine discourse. Mutilation of the body in the sphere of performance effectively breaks the boundaries of this discourse.  Through performance, the artist's body interacts with the audience, creating a dynamic dialogue that depends on performer and spectator's participation. The body becomes a creator of discourse, and the lack of textual mediation allows accession to a language that intervenes in hegemonic discourse. The question of creating new discourses is furthered when one considers female body performance art and Julia Kristeva's theory of the abject. Comparing the works of Cuban artist Ana Mendieta and Franco-Italian artist Gina Pane, one can see the ways in which these performance artists transgress the boundaries of the female body in order to create a new female-centered dialogue with their audience. For the purposes of this essay, I will consider Pane's 1974 performance Psyche and Mendieta's 1974 performance (Untitled) Body Tracks. The use of bodily fluids in both of these performances forces the spectator towards the abject, which begets jouissance. Thusly, jouissance purifies the abject creating a connection to the pre-symbolic. This analysis argues that the performance of the abject leads to a dual removal from logo-centric discourse, in which the female artists effectively dismantle the body politic of a hegemonic (male-centered) discourse.

Panel “Reconfiguring Latina/o Studies Through Transnationalism.”

Alexandra Gonzenbach Perins
Conference Presentation XXXIII International Congress of the Latin American Studies Association, San Juan, Puerto Rico, May 27-31, 2015

Abstract

This panel focuses on the influence of transnationalism and transnational movement in Latina/o cultural production. Through an analysis of texts that engage new media, digital production, social media, and/or other uses of technology, we explore the ways in which authors and artists are challenging, questioning, and reshaping contemporary discourses of Latina/o identity, representation, and cultural production through transnational movement, be it physical or virtual. Panelist presentations focus on cultural production, as well as the physical movement of people across the globe. This panel is driven by the following questions: How does transnational movement challenge our understanding of Latina/o Studies in the United States and worldwide? How are digital technologies and virtual connections reshaping how Latina/o artists produce, disseminate, and share cultural production? As scholars, how can we create new discourses that respond to the changing nature of Latina/o Studies in the 21st century?

“Dialects of the Body: Performing the Transnational ‘Yo’.”

Alexandra Gonzenbach Perkins
Conference Presentation XXXIII International Congress of the Latin American Studies Association, San Juan, Puerto Rico, May 27-31, 2015

Abstract

This project focuses on two contemporary Dominican performance artists, Josefina Báez and Ismael Ogando. I explore how these artists create new expressions of national identity by working in transnational spaces and representing transnational movement. Specifically, I analyze the use of a variety of languages in each performance. I approach the performers’ use of both Spanish and English. More specifically, I engage with the performers’ distinct enunciations of language: corporeal, bodily, oral, and textual. I show that these two artists create discourses of national identity through their bodies to challenge the legitimizing forces of the geographic and cultural space of the nation-state. Rather, these performers create new forms of national identity that encompass the ever-increasing heterogeneity of the globalized, transnational 21st century. In order to challenge an increasingly geographically and politically bound understanding of national belonging, I turn to a concept I am developing entitled queer transnationality. Queer transnationality expands the possibilities, lapses, and excesses of queer theory to other categories of identity, including race and nationality. My project transforms this expansion of queerness by analyzing how these identities are produced, iterated, or reproduced in geographic and geo-political contexts beyond the physical and cultural boundaries of the nation-state. These national boundaries are constitutive in the process of rendering a subject intelligible. My concern, then, is to focus upon the ways in which these performers find slippages in this process outside the bounds of the nation-state.

“Aestheticizing Terror: Performance Art and the Appropriation of Violence.”

Alexandra Gonzenbach Perkins
Conference Presentation129th Annual Modern Language Association Annual Convention, Chicago, January 9-12, 2014

Abstract

Performance artists appropriate and transform cruelty to reveal how the nation-state capitalizes on violence as a mode of repression and control. In this essay, I analyze the work of Guatemalan performance artist Regina José Galindo. Specifically, I investigate how her performance art aestheticizes violence and how violence changes when practiced voluntarily as art and resistance. Galindo’s work responds to the Guatemalan Civil Wars and to political violence around the world. In Autofobia (2009) and Estrías (2009), she appropriates the violence committed against thousands of Guatemalan women. However, she undermines the allegorical relationship between the female body and the nation-state and defies victimization by voluntarily enacting the violence upon her own body. Her works move beyond the boundaries of the nation-state and articulate how global interests perpetuate violence in developing nations. Galindo’s works Looting (2010), Joroba (2010), Móvil (2010), and Curso de supervivencia para hombres y mujeres que viajarán de manera ilegal a los Estados Unidos (2007) expose how the human body, and particularly the female body, becomes a transnational object, underscoring problems of human trafficking, dehumanization, and the geographical and psychological boundaries of national borders. Galindo also explores state sponsored cruelty and torture. In the works Confesión (2007) and 150,000 voltios (2007), Galindo subjects herself to the torture (waterboarding and electrocution) experienced by suspects of criminal acts and/or terrorism. I examine how Galindo’s work responds the expansion of border policing through new technologies and national policies on immigration/border crossing.

“Queering affective bonds in Yolanda Arroyo Pizarro’s Caparazones.”

Alexandra Gonzenabach
Conference Presentation Eleventh Annual South Florida Latin American and Caribbean Studies Graduate Student Conference, University of Miami, April 19, 2013

Abstract

The novel Caparazones (2010), written by Yolanda Arroyo Pizarro blends personal histories, temporalities, and narratives to create a non-linear retelling of the experience of transnationality as well as the formation of alternative familial bonds. The story recounts the lives of Nessa and Alexia, Puerto Rican photojournalists and animal rights activists who have started a family together. The narrative shifts between the protagonist Nessa’s childhood in Puerto Rico, her present in an unspecified location, and the experiences shared between Nessa and Alexia as activists working around the world. The movement between past and present occurs without warning to the reader, creating a temporal pastiche that blurs not only the borders of linear narrative progression, but also geographic borders. I argue that Arroyo Pizarro’s novel Caparazones queers traditional notions of family and kinship by positioning the protagonists as transnational subjects. Transnationality challenges subjecthood as a stable and identifiable position, and rather complicates the relationship between nationality, expression of gender and sexuality, and affective bonds. The present essay analyzes Caparazones through Judith Halberstam’s theorization regarding queer time and space and its relationship to how Western culture understands kinship, as developed in In a Queer Time and Place: Transgender Bodies, Subcultural Lives. Queer(ed) articulations of family/kinship networks allow for reconceptualized understandings of subjects as members of a transnational rhizomatic affective network, rather than geographically isolated beings. Importantly, queer is understood as not merely non-heteronormative relationships, but rather as the radical questioning of structures of heteronormative and homonormative affective bonds and family relationships. Kinship is reinterpreted as a malleable social construct that can be altered and adjusted to fit the needs of people and communities. Transnationality facilitates networks of affect that allow for a queer reading of family and kinship.

“El abyecto y el exiliado en El mundo alucinante de Reinaldo Arenas.”

Alexandra Gonzenbach
Conference Presentation Alabama Modern Language Conference, The University of Alabama, March 1-3, 2013

Abstract

The condition of the exiled subject is located in the interstices of time, space, and existential condition. Exile implies the total elimination of the body from the physical space of the nation-state. In the case of Cuba, exile exists not only in terms of exteriority, the condition of leaving the country, but also in the fact that the Castro regime creates an interior exile, a persecution of subjects that exist within the space of the nation-state but outside of the hegemonic structure of the nation-state. One can clearly see the duplicity of interior and exterior exile in Reinaldo Arenas’ work. Writing in Cuba and treating counterrevolutionary subjects and themes created constant persecution for Arenas. Despite not leaving Cuba until 1980, Arenas creates a narrative escape in his first novel, El mundo alucinante. Through the rewriting of the memorias of Fray Servando Teresa de Mier y Noriega, Arenas represents exile both in exterior exile (outside of one’s country of birth) and interior exile (within one’s birth-country). Furthermore, the idea of exile as interior and exterior does not solely focus on questions of geography; interior exile can also refer to an individual’s psychic/mental condition. As such, the interiority of exile can be related to questions of corporality, which is important for a thorough interpretation of the work. In order to represent this duality, Arenas represents exile as a form of abjection, as conceptualized by Julia Kristeva. Abjection is a useful tool for studying El mundo alucinante, as the novel represents the condition of being on the border of intelligibility. Furthermore, the novel considers the role of the body and corporality in the development of the limits of intelligibility. The inherent abjection in Arenas’ oeuvre is visible in the bodies that exist outside of the hegemony of the nation-state, being that the subject is without place and name, thrown out of society, even when the subject attempts to reincorporate the self within the geographic space of the nation-state. In the present essay, I argue that the representation of abjection in the narrative descriptions, as well as the use of language in the novel underscores the condition of the exile as someone who experiments interior and exterior exile concurrently. While Fray Servando’s narration describes the condition of exterior exile, Arenas’ rewriting of the memorias as well as his inclusion of narrative strategies such as hyperbolic, distinct points of view, and the juxtaposition of graphic/mimetic descriptions of torture and death with traces of magical realism relate the experience of Arenas’ interior exile while living and writing in Cuba.

“Intersections of Queer and Transgender Desire in Mayra Santos-Febres’ Sirena Selena vestida de pena”.

Alexandra Gonzenbachs
Conference Presentation XXX International Congress of the Latin American Studies Association, San Francisco, May 23-26, 2012

Abstract

The identity markers transsexual or transgender exist on the margin of intelligibility. However, increased scholarly interest in and activist engagement with trans identities increases the visibility and understanding of the trans body. With the inclusion of the trans body, new formulations of kinship arise. The expansion of the family from bloodlines to social interconnectivity provides queer and trans bodies with a network of support at times not available within the traditional nuclear family. In Puerto Rican writer Mayra Santos Febres’ 2000 novel Sirena Selena vestida de pena, each character represents new formulations of trans identity. I will analyze manifestations of kinship present in Santos Febres’ work, arguing that, rather than allegorizing the trans body as unintelligible, Santos Febres expands the identification of the trans/queer body through the performative, as theorized by Judith Butler. Parting with much scholarship on the novel, I will argue that perhaps the most queer body is the one that outwardly presents the most heteronormative presence, that of Hugo Graubel, a sugar magnate and hotelier. The mere visual presence of the body cannot determine whether one falls into traditional “family time” or “queer time,” as described by Judith Halberstam. I aim to reveal not only the queer kinship among the trans identified characters, but also to demonstrate that even the most stereotypically heteronormative character in the novel exists within the framework of new queer/trans kinship.

“Queering Autobiography: Polyphony and Multiple Identification in Milk of Amnesia/Leche de amnesia.”

Alexandra Gonzenbach
Conference Presentation The Southeastern Council of Latin American Studies, University of Florida, March 29-31, 2012

Abstract

Long gone are the days in which one dare discuss the subject as a constitutive, unified whole. Since the turn of the 20th century, the stable identity of “man” has been shot headlong into the fragmentary, decentralizing space of modernity and post-modernity. From Pablo Picasso’s contorted faces to Carolee Schneeman’s orgy of meat, music, and body, the centralized, rational “man” undergoes a centripetal decentering, which questions notions of unified subjectivity. However, there are still those who try desperately to hang on to the foregone notion of a stable, centralized subject. A glaring example of the need for unified subjectivity is visible in the autobiographic genre. Initial autobiographical theorists such as Philippe Lejeune insisted upon a mandatory identification between the author, narrator, and protagonist (the so-called “autobiographical pact”). Despite the call for a new formulation of autobiographic subjectivity for writers who fall outside of dominant categories of subjectivity, there still exists a strong resistance to the fictionalization or reconceptualization of autobiographic intelligibility. What seems to be consistently elided from popular understanding of autobiography is the true way in which all autobiographic enactments are manifest: through memory and reconstruction. This recuperation and reconceptualization of memory and experience is highly visible in the work Milk of Amnesia/Leche de amnesia by Carmelita Tropicana (performance alias of Alina Troyano). Tropicana not only queers autobiography through the use of various narrative voices but also through the transposition of the autobiographical act from page to stage. I will argue in this essay that in its queering of the autobiographic genre, Milk of Amnesia/Leche of amnesia opens a space of self-representation which subverts the traditional parameters of autobiography in order to reconceptualize notions of subjecthood. Subjecthood becomes not a totalizing venture, but rather something rhizomatic, in which networks of identification are achieved through non-traditional conceptualizations of self-hood.

“Manipulating the Autobiographical Pact: Juan Francisco Manzano’s Autobiografía del esclavo poeta.”

Alexandra Gonzenbach
Conference Presentation 127th Modern Language Association Annual Convention, Seattle, January 5-8, 2012

Abstract

Questions of autobiography traditionally center upon issues of identification. This rigidly theorized genre depends upon the strict identification among author, narrator, and protagonist, or Philippe Lejeune’s “autobiographical pact.” However, the construction of autobiographic subjectivity depends upon stability between identification and “that which identifies.” This implies that only subjects who are afforded social legibility (traditionally white, heterosexual males of European descent) can engage in the writing of “true” autobiography. Autobiographies that fall outside of hegemonic powers are deemed to be life writings: “self narratives” inferior to autobiography’s established authority. One autobiographic work that has, until recently, been left aside is Juan Francisco Manzano’s La autobiografía de un esclavo. Manzano’s text is the only extant autobiography written by an Afro-Cuban slave while still enslaved. As such, utilizing the traditional parameters of autobiography to analyze Manzano’s construction of subjecthood becomes problematic, especially considering the history behind why the work came to being. Upon reading the text, one can see the ways in which Manzano’s work adheres to the autobiographical pact. Importantly, however, interventions of translators, other authors, activists, and scholars rupture Manzano’s carefully constructed pact. This dual adhesion/subversion begets a nascent subjecthood reflected in Manzano’s life; quite soon after completing his autobiography his benefactor Domingo del Monte purchases his freedom. In this essay, I will analyze the ways in which Manzano utilizes and goes against traditional parameters of autobiography. Playing on and against the stabilized genre subverts traditional autobiography to reveal the ways in which Manzano constructs subjecthood within a society that denies subjecthood to many individuals. Paradoxically, this specific contribution to autobiography complies with the parameters of the autobiographical pact, yet outside influences (translation, modification of the original manuscript, etc.) remove the narrative from the well-constructed borders of said pact.

“La abyección, el discurso doble y la autodefinición de don Quijote.”

Alexandra Gonzenbach
Conference Presentation Fourth Florida Cervantes Conference: “Cervantes y su época,” Florida International University, April 17, 2010

Abstract

Se asume que el discurso es algo fijo y estable, que rige la conducta de las personas que existen dentro de los parámetros del mismo discurso. Pero, aunque se hable de un discurso hegemónico, y aún si existe, también existen varias personas que no caen dentro de los bordes del mismo. Hay gente que opta por cuestionar la rigidez de un discurso hegemónico, pero también existe gente que por su estatus social, económico, racial, o de género está marginada, fuera de los bordes del discurso. Existe esta gente “abyecta,” tomando la idea de Julia Kristeva. Judith Butler apunta que a la gente que existe fuera de los bordes del discurso hegemónico le falta un estatus de inteligibilidad. Pero esto no quiere decir que esa gente al margen queda sin agencia. Como argumenta Michel Foucault, nadie puede existir totalmente fuera del discurso o poder hegemónico. Más bien, la gente a la periferia del poder se apropia del discurso hegemónico desde su punto de vista para asumir un poder no contradictorio a la hegemonía, sino contestatario. En este trabajo argumento que don Quijote existe en este espacio liminal entre hegemonía y borde.

“Bleeding Borders: Abjection and Female Body Art.”

Alexandra Gonzenbach
Conference Presentation American Comparative Literature Association Conference, New Orleans, April 1-4, 2010

Abstract

The female body is politically inscribed within a hegemonic, masculine discourse. Mutilation of the body in the sphere of performance effectively breaks the boundaries of this discourse. Through performance, the artist's body interacts with the audience, creating a dynamic dialogue that depends on performer and spectator's participation. The body becomes a creator of discourse, and the lack of textual mediation allows accession to a language that intervenes in hegemonic discourse. The question of creating new discourses is furthered when one considers female body performance art and Julia Kristeva's theory of the abject. Comparing the works of Cuban artist Ana Mendieta and Franco-Italian artist Gina Pane, one can see the ways in which these performance artists transgress the boundaries of the female body in order to create a new female-centered dialogue with their audience. For the purposes of this essay, I will consider Pane's 1974 performance Psyche and Mendieta's 1974 performance (Untitled) Body Tracks. The use of bodily fluids in both of these performances forces the spectator towards the abject, which begets jouissance. Thusly, jouissance purifies the abject creating a connection to the pre-symbolic. This analysis argues that the performance of the abject leads to a dual removal from logo-centric discourse, in which the female artists effectively dismantle the body politic of a hegemonic (male-centered) discourse.

“Re-consuming the Past: Functions of Anthropophagy in Pereira dos Santos’ Como Era Gostoso o Meu Francês.

Alexandra Gonzenbach
Conference Presentation American Comparative Literature Association Conference, Harvard University, March 26-29, 2009

“Native Language Transfer and its Influence on L2 and L3 learners.”

Alexandra Gonzenbach
Conference Presentation Alabama Association of Foreign Language Teachers Conference, Birmingham, February 6-7, 2009.

“De-centering the “I”: Autobiography and the Construction of Exilic Identity.”

Alexandra Gonzenbach
Conference Presentation Midwest Association for Latin American Studies Conference, San Juan, Puerto Rico, November 20-22, 2008.

“A Familiar Recipe: Cultural Anthropophagy as a Means of Reclamation of Identity in Cristina García’s Dreaming in Cuban.”

Alexandra Gonzenbach
Conference Presentation Southeastern Comparative Literature Association Conference, Auburn University, October 4-6, 2008.