Year in Review
The feature event of the Colonial Latin America Seminar was a workshop titled “The Colonial and Postcolonial Archive: Interdisciplinary Perspectives” and a one-day symposium. Co-sponsored by the USC-Huntington Early Modern Studies Institute, USC’s Del Amo Fund, the Spanish and Portuguese Department, the Comparative Studies in Literature and Culture Doctoral Program, Latin American Studies, and Visions and Voices, the first event generated discussion among graduate students and faculty about different types of archives and the structural limitations as well as the possibilities that they present for the study of race and sex in the past. That discussion included a conversation between the Mexican theater director and actress Jesusa Rodríguez and Professor María Elena Martínez about the case of a presumed hermaphrodite that was tried for the crime of sodomy in New Spain. The conversation focused on how a historian versus an artist, dealing with historical topics, approach historical sources to represent past lives and ended with a preview of a performance that Rodríguez is developing from the case.
The symposium consisted of presentations by Santa Arias (University of Kansas), Pamela Voekel (University of Georgia), Zeb Tortorici (New York University), and Adam Warren (University of Washington), a group of scholars in different disciplines who are currently working on topics related to race and sex in the early modern Spanish Atlantic World, and more concretely on how gender, racial, and sexual discourses and social relations changed during the eighteenth century and Enlightenment context.
The conference closed with a beautiful performance by Jesusa Rodríguez of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz’s “Primero Sueño,” an intricate poem composed of 975 verses that is one of the earliest expressions of the modern literary quest for knowledge and enlightenment and of feminist thought in the modern world.