We are thrilled to publish the seventeenth annual volume of Portals: A Journal in Comparative Literature, an academic journal presented by the Comparative Literature Student Association at San Francisco State University. We are publishing this work in extraordinary times, and we recognize and appreciate the patience, attention, and dedication of our contributors and editors. The Spring 2020 edition features eight excellent papers: two contributions by two graduate students in the Comparative & World Literature program at San Francisco State University, four submissions from undergraduate and graduate students in the United States, and two global submissions by graduate students in Spain and the Netherlands.
In “Narrating Their Paths”, Francisco Fuentes Antrás charts the paths undertaken by Cuban writer Lien Carrazana and Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in two of their short stories – especially as the journeys of their narrators allow them to defy the limits of political discourses.
In “Learning to Sleep in New Places”, KC Barrientos expertly draws us into the “third space” – between Latin American and Anglo-American social spaces – that Junot Díaz’s characters constantly inhabit.
Julie Boutwell-Peterson watches Zadie Smith turn colonial tropes on their head in her analysis of White Teeth; in asking “Who Are These People?”, she examines the means by which Smith redirects oppressive discourses.
As part of his “Ongoing Revelation,” Ryan Carroll develops an excellent sense of endings. His study of Virginia Woolf and Gabriel García Márquez examines that which is absent or missing at the culmination of their works – and, within those absences, that which keeps a text alive (and vital) in the mind of the reader.
Turni Chakrabarti dives deep into political and poetic archives in “The Poetics of Nationhood and Empires,” her rich analysis of the roles of gender and coloniality in Thomas Gray and Anna Letitia Barbauld’s poetry.
Margaret Paz recognizes that “The Well Behaved Rarely Make History,” comparing narratives of three figures (both fictional and historical) who transcend the boundaries of Medieval gender. Her essay examines the extent to which these individuals’ acts of self-transformation and social transgression were recognized, represented, and in some occasions, uplifted.
Emma van Meyeren invites us to the poetic world of Dutch writer Judith Herzberg, guiding readers towards the possibilities of “soft resistance” as the poet contends with traumatic histories.
In “Exile and Belonging,” Laura Williamson examines two Caribbean authors’ semi-autobiographical histories of migration. In studying Julia Alvarez and Gisèle Pineau’s novels, she identifies the historical fissures that inform their protagonists’ struggles – and that, at various moments, draw them towards the (im)possibilities of an idyllic return home.
Portals is indebted to the hard work of its assistant editors, Tiffany Hudson, Marisa Jimison, Paige Kiehl, Ederlyn Peralta, Javier Villafuerte, and Laura Williamson.
We hope you enjoy reading these wonderful essays and exploring the newly-updated Portals website.
Jeffrey Achierno, Editor in Chief
Alexa Barger, Managing Editor