Selected Work

Bill is an insightful, wonderful reader and editor, who leaves no rocks unturned in terms of grammar, syntax and style, but who also engages your content with comments that make you rethink and calibrate your arguments and assumptions, and with this great sense of humor that makes you laugh out loud.  Daniela Flesler

  • It was welcome news that Jesus Rodriguez-Velasco’s book, Dead Voice, has been accepted  for publication by UPenn Press and is looking at a tentative May 2019 release date.   Dead Voice concentrates on the Workshop of Alfonso X, which was responsible for the groundbreaking legal work, Siete Partidas. It was the first vernacular law code in Spain, but, as Rodriguez-Velasco makes clear in detail, there is so much more.  Beyond passing law by decree, Siete Partidas includes passages giving the philosophical and theological underpinnings of law and explores the legal subject’s responsibilities as a constructed entity in parallel with speculation on the law’s metaphysical origins. The book opens with a definition of “Dead Voice,” used to distinguish between the living voice of a testifying witness and the content of that witness as recorded in a documentary process giving the content signifying power beyond the immediate time of testimony.  As such, the content is articulated, even constructed, by the language of power in which it is recorded. The voice of the person is lifted from its own materiality and is given a ghost-like presence surviving its contemporary moment in a historicizing and defining text empowered beyond the life of the speaker and the events testified to. Subsequently, the text is archived  as a stable document. Situated as such, the person who is a subject of the law becomes a fictive entity constructed by the law code itself. As such, subjecthood is a definition at once derived from and effacing the material/pyschological person. The beauty of this, as Rodriguez-Velasco is at pains to point out, and despite how uncomfortable it may make contemporary western individuals, is that persons are defined as entities whose behavior toward each other and the state is open to regulation that attempts to ensure compliance with moral absolutes from which the law, as articulated, descends. By doing so, it rescues citizens from the arbitrary will of tyrants.  Siete Partidas draws on the philosophies of classical, Christian, Jewish and Islamic sources, but the work is in Spanish, and open to scrutiny by any literate subject of Alfonso’s rule.
  • The Memory Work of Sepharad, working title of a book detailing Spain’s attempts to recuperate and honor its Jewish history.  A comprehensive exploration of the issue from historical, museological, economic and political perspectives, this work delves into multiple ways in which Spain’s active reimagining of its past engagements with Judaism and Jews is alternately self-serving and penitential, mocking and gorgeous, antisemitic and honorific.  Situated in nuanced narration of the chilling Medieval through Renaissance history of expulsion, forced conversion and domestic fugitivity, the work becomes a tender and unflinching examination of the past in light of contemporary attempts to engage with Spanish Judaism as an act of redemption and often unwitting reiteration.  As the authors make clear, the memory of Sepharad is accomplished in the space of the most tragic aspect of the Jewish Spanish past, its near absence, effaced by not only direct near genocides like the Alhambra decree and the Purity of Blood statutes, but by physical constructions of Christian iconography and architecture in palimpsests entirely submerging the Jewish signs over which they were built.  Many Jewish artifacts have been recovered and displayed to their advantage as decontextualized works of art in their bare materiality, but their re-situation occurs in a fraught uncertainty about appropriate ways to suggest their significance as products in and of a specific cultural performance.  We simply don’t know exactly how Judaism fit with a Spain that too successfully effaced its presence. The history of Spanish Jews, then, is necessarily re-imagined for purposes of, among other things, ways to claim genealogical identity, cynical profit, entertainment, and historical reckoning, often in desperation, all ultimately futile except as the effort forces an awareness of Jewishness as inextricably connected with Spanish identity. Though condemned to inaccuracy and indeterminacy, the memory work of re-imagining Jewish Spain remains simultaneously fertile creative ground. January 2018, Scheduled for publication spring or summer of 2020 by University of Indiana Press….Daniela Flesler and Adrian Perez-Melgosa
  • Civil Disobedience and the Dangers of Nationalism: A Perspective from the Pro-Independence Left in Catalonia: This work begins with an exploration of the specific historical entanglement of Thoreau’s conceptualization of civil disobedience with the legal framework for assertion of independence provided by the Spanish constitution to unsettle the received understandings of disobedience, and of disobedience to what, in the context of contemporary Catalonia. The work contextualizes the issue in terms of more nuanced modern conceptions of statehood and asserts that the independence movement’s attempt to construe cultural/political identity differently from the notion of nation-state is highly problematic and subject to glib spin by activists on either side of 21rst century independence debates. She makes clear, following Homi Bhabha, that the state is an entity in constant flux and that the desire for revolution exists in tension with the need to wake up in the morning and know what’s legal and what isn’t. November 2017, Aurelie Vialette, Catalan Review, January 2018
  • A grant proposal for a book currently being written and a talk on the ethical and political consequences of 19th century penal colonies set up by European nations outside their metropoles. The works discuss the colonies as literal exemplification of Foucault’s concept of the carceral archipelago. In these prison colonies—famously Devil’s Island, Botany Bay, Georgia, Fernando Po–unpaid labor was extracted from convicts in a space Agamben calls “of exception.” In these colonies the prisoner is not only disenfranchised but no longer protected by the rule of law responsible for the prisoner’s incarceration. The works explore the irony involved in the biopower of a person’s being displaced through the conferred  status of “incorrigibility” to become a potential, semi-autonomous colonial subject–upon rehabilitation!–in a space in which the constituting authority of that status is absent/excepted. The brilliant scrutinizing gaze of the 19th century Galician attorney, Concepcion Arenal, is brought to bear in her proto-feminist critique of the exercise of biopower in its relation to the carceral archipelago. Today’s private prison industry doesn’t go unnoticed.  September/October, 2017. Aurelie Vialette
  • A Home Away from Home, a book exploring the ambivalent situation of immigrant women in domestic work in Spain, as well as Spanish ambivalence about its national identity as it confronts its relationship with those women, many from former Spanish colonies. Domestic service employment is discussed in terms of both dislocation and marginalization of the women involved and both the opportunities for transnational communication and the threat of nationalist alienation of the immigrants in domestic interaction. May 2017.  Michelle Murray, accepted 12/17 for publication by UNC Press, date tbd
  • Intellectual Philanthropy: The Seduction of the Masses: A comprehensive exploration of programs employed by 19th century Spanish bourgeois intellectuals and industrialists to manage anxieties (to be euphemistic) arising from several subgroups of the working classes. Variously cynical and well-intentioned, the programs rose from an unease with the growing presence, after migration from agricultural to industrial employment, of working class people in urban spaces.  Many involved the organization of public presence through the creation of working class choruses and educational opportunities provided in the guise of improvement and recreation, but of course having the effect of patronizing domestication of what the bourgeois perceived as a less than civilized culture.  Many other programs dedicated themselves to teaching working class women the ideals of the Angel del hogar, or the Spanish version of Victorian middle-class, domesticated womanhood.  The work acts almost like a neural stain illuminating the elitism (and elitism as inextricable from sexism) informing social policies both in 19th century Spain and contemporary US.
    June 2016. Aurelie Vialette, Purdue UP, August, 2018
  • Another chapter on La movida, “Heroin: The Burden of Modernity, deals with heroin use and abuse in both privileged and outsider communities. Of its many important themes, one is a deconstruction of the rhetoric of drug use as a luxury for the privileged indicating sophistication, a creative push for artists as they access “special” realms of human feeling, and an act of despair for the socially alienated poor. His blurring of these lines is at once humanizing of the users and key to healthier ways to understand, treat and integrate those who for whatever combination of reasons use opioids to redraw borders of simultaneous social transgression and belonging within cultural constellations.   January 2016. Francisco de Alba
  • A book proposal and Introduction for A Home Away from Home, a work that will explore the ambivalent situation of immigrant women in domestic work in Spain. January 2016.  Michelle Murray
  • “To Recover Madrid: The Open Space Debate and Democratization,” a book chapter concerning architecture and urban planning that includes the voices of neighborhood residents to shift the role of the architect from implementing the plans of developers and, worse yet, government officials to actively serving the needs of those who would live in the newly built environment and have access to downtown cultural centers. Tracing an evolution of thought from the Franco regime to Enrique Tierno Galvan—Madrid’s mayor in the 1980s—de Alba discusses the various plans, problems and solutions resulting from, by turns, Fascist, Capitalist and Marxist thinking. This is part of a multifaceted history of 1980s Madrid and La Movida.  December 2015. Francisco de Alba
  • On Violence and Tyranny, a dissertation exploring the rearticulation of the source of a monarch’s legitimacy in the wake of Enrique II’s tyrannicide of Pedro I in 1369.   The source of legitimate authority was reconstructed from a king’s being an instrument of divine will to a king’s conscious use of the wisdom he was divinely granted to wield power for the good of his subjects, the abuse of which justifies tyrannicide.  Since the decision concerning the abuse is made by the people, a critical vector opens in response to question the commonly received opinion that Medieval Europe had very little concern with political science.  December 2015.  Veronica Rodriguez-Torres
  • “Forensic Atelier: Between Texts and Textures,” a talk given at the Neuberger Museum on the production, curation and display of Teresa Margolles’s photography and installations.  This is a work that is uncomfortably aware of the circulation of global south bodies in the privileged modern art world.  Sheets that had wrapped the bodies of victims of police or narcotraficante violence are hung in museum spaces so that the portrait is rendered by stains from the actual bodies of the portrayed.  September 2015.  Alberto Medina
  • “An On-Screen Trial: Resistance to Corruption in Ciutat Morta,”  a searching look at the use of documentary to transgress and redefine boundaries between legal and dramatic discourse.  Film is used to re-interrogate police action against anti-gentrification protesters in early-2000 Barcelona.  September 2015. Letras Femeninas, Aurelie Vialette
  • A proposal for an as-yet untitled book about Arab and Spanish poets’ retelling of histories of mutual inclusion-exclusion as means of gaining the favor of kings and describing cultural boundaries in the Medieval Mediterranean. July 2015. Samuel England
  • “Massive Harmonies,” a chapter in Dissonances of Modernity: Intersections between Music and Literature in Spanish Culture, 1700-2000, ed. Irene Gomez-Castellano, detailing the formation of choruses in 19th century Spain by people such as Josep Anselm Clave to offer a “civilizing” control over the industrial masses. This is a penetrating work bringing to light the painful ambivalences of fear, altruism, patronizing and self-loathing involved in many social relief efforts.  June 2015 Aurelie Vialette
  •  “Adolescence, Liminality, and the Uncanny in the Films of Lucrecia Martel,” a conference paper delivered at the Latin American Studies Association in San Juan, Puerto Rico, May 2015. Sarah Thomas
  •  “An Episode in Provincial Cosmopolitanism: Juan L. Ortiz and Chinese Poetry,” Panel Discussion, F(r)ictions of World Literature: Taste, Value, and the Academy in Peninsular and Latin American Literatures and Contexts. Harvard University, May 8-9, 2015.  Alvaro Fernandez Bravo
  •  A grant proposal for a work exploring the ways nineteenth and twentieth century aesthetic, social and legal discourses have operated to racially other prostitutes in Spain and how these discourses laid the groundwork for current attitudes and policies toward immigrant women from Latin America and Africa.  Michelle Murray
  • “A Woman’s Political Answer to the ‘Cuestion Social’ in Nineteenth Century Spain,” This work situates the career of Concepcion Arenal as a woman intellectual employing a creative rhetoric of social reform that escaped, expanded and leveled the common strategies of her male contemporaries. Aurelie Vialette, Hispanic Review, Autumn 2015.
  • Chapter 2, “Loss, Redemption, and Converso Resonances at the Sephardic Museum of Toledo,” Daniela Flesler and Adrian Perez-Melgosa, book in progress, March 2015.
  • “Knightly Fables, Visual Concepts,” December 2014. Jesus Rodriguez-Velasco
  • Cinema and Inter-American Relations: Tracking Transnational Affect, 2012. Adrian Perez-Melgosa, Routledge Press.
  • Tenure Application, Adrian Perez-Melgosa (successful)
  • Grant Application, The Memory Work of Sepharad: New Inheritances for Twenty-First Century Spain, Daniela Flesler, Funded by the American Council of Learned Societies
  • A book-length manuscript by Lou Charnon-Deutsch on the construction of conspiracy narratives defining Jewish and Jesuit presence in 19th century France and Spain.