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Resources: Podcasts

Marjorie Agosín: The Exile Writer and the Literary Imagination in the Americas


Date:  Friday, March 7, 2014

Presenter:  Dr. Marjorie Agosín is Luella LaMer Slaner Professor of Latin American Studies and Professor of Spanish at Wellesley College. She is an award-winning self-described "poet, human rights activist, literary critic. [She] is interested in Jewish literature and literature of human rights in the Americas; women writers of Latin America; migration, identity, and ethnicity." She writes that "my creative work is inspired by the theme of social justice as well as the pursuit of remembrance and the memorialization of traumatic historical events both in the Americas and in Europe. I have written about the holocaust through the portrayal of Anne Frank as well as about the history of Bosnian women during the siege of Sarajevo. I am also a literary scholar and my work has focused on such major writer as Pablo Neruda, Maria Luisa Bombal and Gabriela Mistral. I have also researched and written about the role of women in Latin America during authoritarian regimes in the seventies and eighties. The work of the Chilean arpilleras has been a pioneer work on this subject. I have also written essays, autobiographical memories, and a young adult novel. All of these works have as a unified theme the pursuit of social justice and human rights" (Wellesley College).
In recognition of her corpus of poetry, fiction, memoir, and literary criticism, Agosín has earned repeated literary awards, including the Letras de Oro Prize, the Latina Literatura Prize, International Latino Award, Mexican Cultural Institute Prize, and Peabody Award, among others. She has also "won numerous honors in recognition of her work as a human rights activist,including the United Nations Leadership Award for Human Rights, the Jeanette Rankin Award in Human Rights, and years after she left her homeland the Chilean government honored her with the Gabriela Mistral Medal for Lifetime Achievement" (UMass Boston).

Description:  In this presentation, Agosín discusses her personal and professional experiences as a Chilean writer living in the United States, using as a focus the lens of her experience writing I Lived on Butterfly Hill, her most recent publication and first novel. The novel has been called a "lyrically ambitious tale of exile and reunification" by Kirkus Reviews. The discussion extrapolates from her experiences to explore the broader implications of being a writer in exile, and to discuss the processes which shape literary consciousness for writers who are apart from their home soil.

For reference, please see the event flyer.

For a video of the event, please see below.