Thursday, October 30, 2003

More thoughts

talked with DJ about possible de Ibar projects this afternoon. I described a bunch of things I know about her and things I think are interesting. Borrowed a book called 1926, by Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht and as I am reading bits of it here in the cafeteria I am very excited by it. Just reading the first entry, "Airplanes", makes me think of Juana's poem "Las Olas" when the gulls become an airplane to carry her to tiss investigation into $300 million in missing funds [SMH]

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Using Foucault to consider Juana de América, the Statue

I am writing an essay on an event in 1929 in which Juana de Ibarbourou was given the name “Juana de América”. Poets and diplomats from twenty countries, the Uruguayan government, and thousands of citizens gathered in and around the Salón de los Pasos Perdidos in the Uruguayan capitol building. Juana, wearing white robes and a gilded replica of Minerva’s helmet, was consecrated and married - to America. The Uruguayan writer Juan Zorrilla de San Martín placed the nuptial ring on her finger. In a similar event in the same year in Havana, Cuba, the new Capitol building was opened, and an enormous gilded statue of “La República”, dressed as Minerva, was unveiled; it is still the third largest indoor monument in the world. As I think about these two events, Rodó’s statue of Ariel, and the poems of Juana de Ibarbourou in which she speaks in the voice of a statue, I have come up with a lot of questions that might be helpfully addressed by Foucault’s understanding of history and ways to “circumscribe the ‘locus’ of an event, the limits to its fluidity and the conditions of its emergence” (Discourse, 230). What was the (inter)national and literary discourse in 1929 that brought these ceremonies, these statuifications, to being? And why Juana Fernandez Morales?

Using Foucault’s methodology of the analysis of discourse, I would look at genealogical ideas of chance, discontinuity, and materiality; also at the ‘critical’ or reversal-principle ideas of exclusion, limitation and appropriation (231-232). In what discourse was Juana de Ibarbourou’s poetry considered a perfect expression of wisdom, art, and pan-americanism? When I ask, “Why Juana?” I would like to consider “Why not someone else ?” I consider the singular lack of politics or nationalism in her work: she was chosen in part because she was outside the boundaries of political, national, and literary discourse. Why was this special ceremony created, when normally a poet would be honored by literary prizes? I would like to look at biographical sketches of Juana, which always include references to this event, as material echos of the event, and the ways that the event froze her in time, defined and statuified her in the literary discouse of 20th century poetic history. In doing this I would look at the ways that the event is talked about, and try to supply some of the ways the event is not talked about.

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