Writing Resistance Symposium

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April 24, 2018 - April 24, 2018

Ortega Hall (multiple rooms)

Join us for "Writing Resistance," a mini-symposium focused on the theme of writing resistance and featuring Brazilian author and 2016 recipient of the prestigious Prêmio Jabuti award Natalia Borges Polesso and literary and cultural critic Leonardo Tonus. Participants are invited to engage with the speakers in several ways:

  • Creative Writing Workshop with Natalia Borges • Ortega 137 • 2:00 - 3:15
  • Lecture with Leonardo Tonus, "Refugees and Migrants: Resistances in and of Literature" • Ortega 135, 3:30 - 5:00 pm
  • Lecture with Natala Borges, "Amora: Lesbian Protagonists" • Ortega 135, 3:30 - 5:00

The event will bring together literary criticism and creative writing to address how literature broaches contemporary socio-political issues. On the one hand, literary scholar, Leonardo Tonus questions how contemporary authors are engaging the present socio-historical moment. Tonus looks at whether contemporary literature establishes a critical dialogue of resistance or whether contemporary literature favors marketable narratives that spectacularize human suffering and migratory movements. On the other hand, writer Natalia Borges Polesso addresses the issue of labeling in her own output. She will reflect on how she, as an author, attempts to avoid the trap of having her works pigeonholed by the label of “lesbian” literature. Additionally, Dr. Polesso will offer a creative writing workshop to students. 

Natalia Borges Polesso, Writer-in-residence, Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio Grande do Sul
Natalia Borges Polesso, Writer-in-residence, Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio Grande do Sul

Amora: Lesbian protagonists How can we displace or dislocate sexuality in the construction of lesbian characters? How can we as writers build characters, narrate stories that refuse to be reduced to and go beyond the question of their lesbianism? Not that sexuality and more specifically lesbianism are not an important theme to touch upon, in fact, it remains central, but my book proposes a different approach that refuses such reductionism. Amora speaks mainly about desire and affection. Desire, as a driving force, occurs when the characters present themselves: women of various ages and walks of life, whose worlds are shaken by an event (is this not the beginning of every story?) that forces them to act. Affection is present in the way they seek their own resolutions and how, in their search, they relate to one another.

Leonardo Tonus, Associate Professor, Université Paris-Sorbonne
Leonardo Tonus, Associate Professor, Université Paris-Sorbonne

Refugees and Migrants: Resistances in and of Literature In recent decades, the world has witnessed the largest flow of migratory movements since World War II. According to data provided by the International Organization for Migrants from January 2015 to January2016, 1,122,907 people migrated by land or sea routes to Europe. This contingent of migrants is in addition to the UNHCR's 2014 estimate of 59.5 million people who faced forced displacements. Of these individuals, 19.5 million were refugees. In 2015, 3,771 people died or went missing in the Mediterranean, and by mid-2017 this number had already been surpassed. In smaller proportions, Brazil has also been a destination for migratory movements. In last ten years, the number of immigrants registered by the Federal Police has increased 160%. In 2015 117,745 foreign migrants had entered the country. As in other parts of the planet the presence of foreign migrant groups can be explained by several events: natural catastrophes (Haitians); war (Syrians), political oppression (Congolese, Nigerians and Venezuelans) and search for better living conditions (Bolivians). The “migrant narrative” has long tradition within the press, as well as other media and artistic expressions. Nonetheless, how has contemporary literature registered this global phenomenon? Whereas in the late 1990s, the migratory experience is almost invisible in literary production, nowadays, there is a veritable explosion of texts on world displacements. Migrants and refugees have become, in recent decades, protagonists of many contemporary literary texts. This talk aims to question the presence, representation and insertion of the 'refuge' in a literary field increasingly conditioned by marketing strategies and by so-called spectacularization procedures.

This event is organized by the UNM Department of Spanish in Portuguese in partnership with the Printemps Littéraire Brésilien, which is part of a research and educational initiative that also aims to promote Lusophone literatures around the World. This annual colloquium was originally idealized by professor Leonardo Tonus (Sorbonne Université) to promote and to expand the training of students in institutions of higher education. Since its inception in 2014, the event has become an important space for debates on Brazilian literature, fomenting new readings and enriching experiences around the Portuguese language. More than 50 artists, among  novelists, writers of short fiction, poets, illustrators and essayists will participate in the fifth edition of the Printemps Littéraire Brésilien, which will take place between March 14th and May 10th, 2018, in four European countries (France, Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany) and, for the first time in the United States. Roundtables, readings, poetry events, writing workshops and book launchings will take place in bookstores, cultural centers, institutional and educational spaces aimed at a wide audience. The Salon Livre Paris 2018 will also host authors for debates and book signings.
  • Latin American and Iberian Institute (with support from the US Department of Education Title VI)
  • Department of Spanish & Portuguese
  • Creative Writing
  • Excellence in Writing Instruction
  • Feminist Research Institute
  • Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures

This event is free and open to the public.