2016 Woodman Lecture

Jose SaldivarThe English Department is pleased to announce the 2016 Leonora Woodman Memorial Lecture will be presented on Wednesday, September 7, 4:30 pm, Krannert Auditorium.  This year's guest speaker is José David Saldívar, the Leon Sloss, Jr. Professor of Comparative Literature at Stanford University.  Professor Saldívar will be speaking on the writer Junot Diaz.

“Imaginative Transference and the Fukú Americanus in Junot Díaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.”

About Professor Saldívar

Born and raised in the Global South of Brownsville, Texas, my most vivid memory is not so much of my family (four brothers and two sisters) but of the actual house on 214 Vilma Street where I lived with my parents and my grandparents.

I spent my early years exploring US-Mexico border culture and music, and I attended Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic school. A first generation college student, I majored in literature at Yale, and completed my PhD at Stanford University in English and Comparative Literature. Throughout my career, I have been interested in understanding how literature’s complex narrative logic and its broad ideological horizons work. Is literature an extended metaphor?

For me, comic books like “Batman,” science fiction texts such as “Oscar Wao,” and Broadway plays like “Hamilton” are neither prophecy nor folklore but parables of our times. For instance, it’s hard to imagine reading Junot Díaz’s Pulitzer Prize-winning sci-fi novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao without seeing how the hero’s immigrant articulation of estrangement or alienation is tempered by the reality of what is biologically, physically, and socially possible. Díaz's novel evaluates which possible futures are better or worse for Oscar Wao and by extension for us.

I am interested in teaching seminars like my “Batman, Hamilton, and Other Wondrous Lives,” in order to see how and why “Batman,” “Hamilton,” and other lives like Díaz’s Oscar Wao often erupt as a blow against the world as it is.

Among my previous books are The Dialectics of Our America: Genealogy, Cultural Critique, and Literary History (Duke University Press, 1991), Border Matters: Remapping American Cultural Studies (University of California Press, 1997), Trans-Americanity: Subaltern Modernities, Global Coloniality, and the Cultures of Greater Mexico (Duke University Press, 2012), and Trans-americanidad: Modernidades subalternas, colonilalidad global y las culturas del Gran México (Fondo Casa de las Américas, La Habana, Cuba, forthcoming), coeditor (with Jennifer Harford Vargas and Monica Hanna) of Junot Díaz and the Decolonial Imagination (Duke University Press, 2016), coeditor (with Héctor Calderón) of Criticism in the Borderlands (Duke University Press, 1991), and editor of The Rolando Hinojosa Reader (Arte Público Press, 1985).

Additionally, I have published numerous articles in journals such as Cultural StudiesAmerican Literary HistoryThe Americas ReviewRevista Casa de las AméricasDaedalusModern Fiction Studies, and The Global South. I have served on the editorial boards of Duke University Press, the University of California Press, and I currently serve on the editorial boards of the journals The Global SouthAztlan, and World Knowledges Otherwise. I have received personal research grants from The Ford Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, the University of California President's Research Fellowship in the Humanities, the William Rice Kimball Fellowship, Stanford Humanities Center, and the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford (invitation for a future visit).

My teaching is divided evenly between graduate seminars and undergraduate courses, and some of my undergraduate courses are cross-listed in Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity.

In 2003, I received the Distinguished Achievement Award for Literary and Cultural Criticism from the Western Literature Association; in 2005, I received the Chicano Scholar of the Year Award from the Modern Language Association; and in 2007 I received the Sarlo Distinguished Graduate Student Mentoring Award from the University of California, Berkeley. Before coming to Stanford in January 2010, I was the Class of 1942 Professor of English and Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. Presently, I hold the Leon Sloss, Jr. Professor in the Humanities at Stanford.

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