Whether we speak of historical exodus or contemporary trends of gentrification and economic inequality, acts of displacement influence and shape our engagement with human rights and the world itself. In the 2015 volume, Portals is pleased to present six articles that engage in multiple ways with displacement in literature:
- Displaced legacies, in Alexandra Becker’s investigation into the legacy of Italian futurism in Ibero-America;
- Displacement and negation of national identity, in Adán Falcón’s work on autobiographical fiction in post-colonial settings;
- Lost love and grieving, in Ashley Kimura’s inquiry into the use of nature to displace metaphorically;
- Fractured identities in Alessia Mingrone’s scholarship on the Decadent Aesthetic movement in English and Italian literature.
- Displaced revolutionary impulses, in the case of Jon-David Settell’s work on the changing role of subversive humor in pre- and post-revolutionary poetry with a shared commitment to Marxism;
- And finally, displacement within families in Christopher Sheehan’s work on physical transformation, madness, and alienation.
We include full abstracts for each essay below, with embedded hyperlinks to the essay. As editors, we are deeply grateful to the many students and graduates who contributed to the publication of this year’s edition, and to the faculty and staff at San Francisco State University.
Alexandra Becker focuses on the legacies of Italian futurismo [futurism] in Ibero-America in “Cannibal Violence: Reformulation of Dominant Masculinity in the Ibero-American Avant-Garde.” Becker specifically addresses futurismo and its relation to Manuel Maples Arce’s estridentismo [stridentism] in Mexico and Oswald de Andrade’s antropofagia [cannibalism] in Brazil. Both countries, situated at the poles of Latin or Ibero-America, shared Italy’s concerns with national modernization and global international relevance, expressing them in manifesto form with Maples Arce’s “Actual No. 1” (1921) and “Manifiesto estridentista” [“Stridentist Manifesto”] (1923), and de Andrade’s “Manifesto da poesia pau-brasil” [“Manifesto of Pau-Brazil Poetry”] (1924) and “Manifesto antropófago” [“Cannibalist Manifesto”] (1928). They also contended with their own interplay of dominant and minoritarian identity paradigms, from the hyper-masculine standard of machismo [chauvinism] to the acknowledgement of the “savage” native past. Taken together, these case studies represent two possible reformulations in the history of futurismo’s associations with misogyny and primitivism that complicate and challenge its continuing legacy. Becker is a first year graduate student in the Department of Comparative Literature at Northwestern University.
In “Narrating the Ghost: Memory, Narrative, and Incommensurabilities in Jamaica Kincaid’s The Autobiography of My Mother and Roberto Bolaño’s Nocturno de Chile,” Adán Falcón explores the turn toward negation in national identity in post-colonial scholarship. He argues that it is through the genre of autobiographical fiction that this form of negation breaks away from the ambivalence of national narratives during moments of transition. For Falcón, these negations function as ghosts in national narratives that haunt their transitions, exposing the disparate parts holding together a national identity that refuses to acknowledge the presence of these ghosts. Falcón is a first-year graduate student in the Department of Comparative and World Literature at San Francisco State University.
Ashley Kimura, in “The Saddest Lines: Poetic Lost Love,” explores representations of mourning, grief, and lament in Edgar Allan Poe’s “Annabel Lee” and Pablo Neruda’s “Puedo escribir los versos más tristes” [“Tonight I can write the saddest lines”]. Beginning with the historical context for mourning poetry in general, she explores the use of nature to invoke physical and figurative distances. She argues that these distances situate their readers empathetically with familiar sentiments of lost love, while simultaneously inviting readers to sympathize with the individual loss of each narrator. Ashley is a first year graduate student in the Department of Comparative and World Literature at San Francisco State University.
Alessia Mingrone, in “Mirrors and Masks: Identity and the Decadent Aesthetic” writes about the multiplicity and artificiality of identity in Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890) and Luigi Pirandello’s Uno, nessuno e centomila [One, No One and One Hundred Thousand] (1926). She is specifically interested in how each text emphasizes the instability of the self. Ultimately, Mingrone argues that both novels justify putting on masks and assuming different identities in society as a way to avoid the ugliness and suffering of life. Mingrone is a first year graduate student in the Department of Comparative and World Literature at San Francisco State University.
Jon-David Settell, in “Of Statesmen and Guerrilleros: Yevgeny Yevtushenko and Roque Dalton’s Divergent Poetics of Revolution,” engages with Mikhail Bakhtin’s concept of grotesque realism to explore its subversive political potential in pre- and post-revolutionary contexts. He challenges Bakhtin’s assertion that the lyrical voice is monologic with a comparative analysis of the role of humor and the grotesque in poetry linked by an overt commitment to Marxism, by Soviet poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko and El Salvadorian poet-guerrillero Roque Dalton. Settell is a second year graduate student in the Department of Comparative and World Literature at San Francisco State University.
Christopher Sheehan explores themes of alienation and displacement in his inquiry, “Reflections of Kafka and Gilman: The Significance of Social Reflection in ‘Die Verwandlung’ and ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’”. Each of these texts, Sheehan argues, situates their respective protagonist in relation to an alienating transformation that distinguishes them from the societies that they formerly inhabited. Sheehan draws a parallel between the way that these characters are portrayed in terms of their families and the way that madness was treated during these times. He concludes with an examination of how the narrative environments reflect methods of interpretation, and how these interpretations in turn affect the transformation of their environments. Sheehan is a second year graduate student in the Department of Comparative and World Literature at San Francisco State University.