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Ben Olguín Lecture-In-Residence Spring 2020 Jagiellonian University

Data: 20.04.2020 - 05.06.2020

7-Week Timeframe

April 20, 2020 – June 5, 2020


Introductory to Intermediate Undergraduate Course (4 ECTS points)

“Multiethnic Literatures of the U.S. and the Politics of Life Writing Genres”

Wednesday  15.00-18.00, ul. Ingardena 3, room 40 (first meeting on 20th April)

This course surveys life writing genres by established and new multiethnic American authors from a variety of ethnic heritages. The genres and texts analyzed in this course extend from the nineteenth century to the present, and include immigrant picaresque, slave narrative, Black and Latinx political manifestos, Chicanx women’s testimonial, Asian American and Mexican American immigration autobiography, Native American oratory, Euroamerican Bildungsroman, multiethnic war memoir, Arab American slam poetry, and more. Concurrently, students will receive instruction in fundamental tools of literary analysis from a variety of methodological perspectives, with emphasis on autochthonous practices from each author’s ethnic and racial heritage. Several questions animate this course. For instance, how does contemporary immigrant memoir from Asian, Latin American, African, and European descent populations intersect with and diverge from the U.S. immigrant literatures of previous generations. What are the ideological implications of contemporary Black and Latinx political memoir in relation to earlier eras of third world political discourse? How do the literatures from various groups reveal commonalities and conflicts with each other, and what is at stake in these relations? The course will involve a guest author reading, as well as multimedia materials of archival and recent literary works by multiethnic American authors. Student assignments include short quizzes, one short analytical essay, and one personal testimonial or family member interview.


Graduate course open to Undergraduates  (4 ECTS points)

“Postcolonial and Decolonial Literatures in the U.S. and Global South”

Monday 16.45-19.45, Collegium Paderevianum B, room 401, (first meeting on 22nd April)

Following the end of World War II, a wave of independence and national liberation movements spread throughout the southern hemisphere. These movements involved intense meditations on culture and identity that coalesced into postcolonial studies, which segues with contemporary decolonial studies. This course provides and overview of the literature and theory of postcolonial and decolonial studies, with select case studies among multiethnic power movements in the U.S. as well as liberation movements in Latin America, Africa, Asia and southern Europe. Students will examine various postcolonial genres such as magical realism and guerrilla testimonial; political autobiography and memoir; cultural and political manifestos and speeches; as well as related theoretical tracts. Primary text authors include Gloria Anzaldúa, Leonard Peltier, Assata Shakur, Alicia Partnoy, Rigoberta Menchú, Bobby Sands, Salman Rushdie, Nawal El Saadawi, Ryszard Kapuściński, and more. Theorists include Chela Sandoval, Gayatri Spivak, Homi Bhabha, Franz Fanon, Walter Mignolo, Linda Tuniwai Smith, Catherine Walsh, Achille Mbembe, and more. Topics include postcolonial and decolonial culture and aesthetics; national identity and autonomous subjectivities; as well as various theories of power and counter-power. The course involves short vocabulary quizzes and one research project.


Ben Olguín Biography

Ben V. Olguín is the Robert and Liisa Erickson Presidential Chair in the English Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He received his Ph.D. from Stanford University, and previously was a faculty in the English departments at Cornell University and the University of Texas at San Antonio.

Olguín’s interdisciplinary areas of expertise include Chicanx and Latinx Literary and Cultural Studies, Critical Race and Ethnic Studies, American and Latin American Studies, Postcolonial Studies, Speculative literature and film, Human Rights theory and praxis, Medical Humanities, Translation Studies, and Creative Writing. His research, writing, teaching, and service activities explore the complex relationships between vernacular culture and performances of power and counter-power in local, transnational, cross-border, and hemispheric venues. He pursues this inquiry through interdisciplinary diachronic studies of institutions and contexts, where intersecting and often conflicting cultures, identities, and ideologies are negotiated through literature, performance, and visual expression.

Olguín is the author of the research book, La Pinta: Chicana/o History, Culture, and Politics (University of Texas Press, 2010), and Violentologies: Violence and Ontology in Latinx Literature, which is currently under review. He is co-editor with Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez (School of Journalism, University of Texas, Austin) of Latina/os and WWII: Mobility, Agency, and Ideology (University of Texas Press, 2014), and co-editor with Cathryn Josefina Merla-Watson (English Department, University of Texas, Rio Grande Valley) of Altermundos: Latin@ Speculative Literature, Film, and Popular Culture (University of Washington Press, 2017). Olguín also is a creative writer, and is a member of the Macondo Writers Workshop, founded by Sandra Cisneros. He has authored two collections of poetry, Red Leather Gloves (Hansen Publishing, 2014) and At the Risk of Seeming Ridiculous: Poems from Cuba Libre (Aztlán Libre Press, 2014), and currently is working on a third collection based on his experiences as a volunteer medic, Pericardial Tamponade, Or This is How You Die. Additionally, he has completed the first installment of a trilogy of travel writing essays, The Spanish Notebooks: Hemispheric Crossroads, Collective Futures, and the True Spirit of Duende, and currently is working on the second installment in addition to research projects.




La Pinta: Chicana/o Prisoner Literature, Culture, and Politics

Altermundos: Latin@ Speculative Literature, Film, and Popular Culture

Latina/os and World War II: Mobility, Agency, and Ideology

Cantos de Adolescencia/Songs of Youth by Américo Paredes (1932-1937)

Red Leather Gloves

At the Risk of Seeming Ridiculous: Poems from Cuba Libre