L. Elena Delgado (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign)
Wednesday 11 May 2016, 6.00pm, Room 112, School of Arts, Birkbeck, University of London, London WC1H 0PD
In a society of hyper-communication, compulsive transparency and prescribed positivity, who can make claims, express political grievances and “speak from the heart” in the public sphere? How does the study of political emotions, particularly at a time of economic and social crisis, illuminate current notions of democratic citizenship and social justice? This talk will start by analyzing the ubiquitous presence of heart-centered images and rhetoric in the “Spain of crisis” (as it has come to be known in Spanish), something quite remarkable considering that its prevalence coincides with the rising public visibility of fraud and corruption scandals, in all segments of society. I will continue by examining the contradiction implicit in the exigency of a transparent heart when the visceral truths that are exposed to the public unsettle and stir, rather than soothe and patch up. I will then focus on recent movements that have successfully mobilized social and political activism, and in doing so have been accused of stirring visceral (and therefore irrational) reactions: secessionism in Scotland and Catalonia and the movement of the Outraged (Indignados) in Spain. I will show how through the deployment of both “negative” (outrage or anger) and “positive” (hope, joy) emotions, those movements have contested the orchestration of neoliberal psycho-politics in times of crisis and managed to reclaim their space in the democratic public sphere.
L. Elena Delgado is Professor of Spanish Literature and Cultures, Criticism and Interpretive Theory and Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign). She is also affiliated with the Center for Global Studies and The European Union Center. The focus of her current research and teaching is the construction of a Spanish national cultural identity in the democratic period, aesthetics and ideology in modern and contemporary Spanish literature, and emotions and affects in/as culture. Her most recent authored book is La nación singular. Fantasías de la normalidad democrática española (1996-2011) [Siglo XXI, 2014, The Singular Nation: Fantasies of Spanish democratic normalcy] for which she was a finalist for the National Book Award in Spain, in the category of essay. She has recently completed a co-edited book entitled Engaging the Emotions in Spanish History and Culture (from the Enlightment to the Present) published by Vanderbilt UP (2016). She has written numerous articles and given presentations and keynote lectures all over the world. She is the editor of a book series on contemporary Hispanic and Lusophone Studies for Liverpool University Press, and a permanent member of the editorial team of the Journal of Spanish Cultural Studies. She is currently working on two projects: one a cultural history of modern Spanish literature, co-authored with Jo Labanyi (Polity Press) and another, tentatively entitled The Transparent Heart: Political Emotions in a state of crisis, on which she will be working on next year thanks to a fellowship from the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities.
This seminar is organized by CILAVS in collaboration with the Comparative Research in European Cultures and Identities (CRECI) Centre.