This week, the Department of English Language and Literature is hosting a lecture by Assoc. Prof. Dr. RoseAnna Mueller who has been a faculty member at the Columbia College Chicago in Humanities and Foreign Languages, Department of Humanities, History and Social Sciences. She acted as the Humanities Coordinator from 1996 to 1999, and is currently the Director of Women’s/Gender Studies Minor.
Professor Mueller’s talk is based on the Venezuelan author Teresa de la Parra’s Three Lectures: Women’s Influence in the Formation of the American Soul (1930), which described the important roles women played during the Conquest, Colony, and Independence eras in Latin America. De la Parra believed that women’s history had yet to be written and that as a public intellectual she owed it to her audience to inform them of the contributions women had made to Latin American history and how they were poised to contribute to its future.
A more recent and contested way to document women’s lives is through testimonio. Postmodernism brought with it a new way to interpret this literary genre and testimonio gives voice to a previously marginalized person by virtue of class, gender or race. The testimonies of Rigoberta Menchú (Guatemala), Domitila de Chungarra (Bolivia), and Reyita de los Santos (Cuba) are excellent and dramatic examples of this genre. They document the lives of three “ordinary” women struggling with race, class and gender issues, as well as economic and patriarchal life circumstances.
Another way to document women’s lives is through film. The Argentinian filmmaker María Luisa Bemberg used this medium to tell the story of two powerful women. Yo la peor de todas tells the life of the intellectual colonial Mexican nun Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz. Camila tells the powerful and previously censored story of Camila O’Gorman, who defied the state, the church and her family to be with her lover.
Assoc. Prof. Dr. RoseAnna Mueller ‘s talk entitled “Women Narrating Latin American Women’s Lives” will take place on Wednesday, April 3, in C-Block Amphitheater at 5:40 p.m. Everyone interested in literature, narration and testimonio is invited. Refreshments will be served before and after the talk. For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.