Professor Aníbal González on his work with the Bucknell Studies in Latin American Literature and Theory series
by Jen Weber, 2012-13 Cynthia Fell Intern
This series of books provides a forum for some of the best criticism on Latin American literature in a wide range of critical approaches. By acknowledging the historical links and cultural affinities between Latin American and Iberian literatures, the series welcomes a consideration of Spanish and Portuguese texts and topics while also providing a space of convergence for scholars working in Romance studies, comparative literature, cultural studies, and literary theory. Aníbal González, professor at Yale University, has worked as the editor of this series for many years. While balancing his own professional and academic goals, he has devoted an ample amount of time and support to the development of the series. Here, we speak with Professor González about his experiences in order to recognize his efforts and commitment.
How many years have you worked on the series? How many books have you worked with?
I’ve worked fourteen years in the series, since its founding in 1999. I was professor of Spanish at Penn State at the time. I had the good fortune of chatting with Greg Clingham at a reception in State College, and we both remarked on the fact that Bucknell University Press has a long tradition of publishing scholarship on Iberian and Latin American literatures; from there, it took almost no time at all for Greg to propose the idea of creating the series, and I was honored that he chose me as its editor. The series has published 37 books so far, and I’ve been closely involved in the process of selecting all of them.
Describe the aim of the series. What kind of impact has it had on the field of Latin American studies?
The series aims to publish the best new scholarly books about Latin American literature, with particular interest in books that combine scholarly research with innovative theoretical approaches. Featuring works by both junior and senior Latin Americanist scholars, the series is well-known as a venue for rigorous research works on virtually all of the major genres and periods of Latin American literature: from Colonial chronicles and poems, through nineteenth-century narrative and journalism, to the Latin American “Boom” narratives of the 1960s and contemporary Latin American theatre.
Have there been any notable titles in the series that stood out to you in particular?
Four books in particular—Santana’s Foreigners in the Homeland, Friis’s José Emilio Pacheco, Salgado’s From Modernism to Neobaroque, and Díaz’s Unhomely Rooms—are particularly meaningful for me as the first works we published, and for the high standards they set for the rest of the series. More recently, Luciani’s Literary Self-Fashioning in Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz and Sampson’s Ricardo Palma’s Tradiciones have given me special satisfaction, since Sor Juana and Ricardo Palma are among my all-time favorite Latin American writers.
Has the series changed at all while you’ve been involved? What kind of new work would you like to see the series introduce in the future?
Over the years, the series’s scope has broadened to include newer areas and approaches in Latin American literary research, such the nineteenth century and cultural studies. I’d like to see more scholarly works submitted to the series on some of the great Latin American writers of today, including Roberto Bolaño, Jorge Volpi, Andrés Neuman, Santiago Gamboa, and Cristina Rivera Garza.
Are there any comparable series producing the same collection of works at this time?
Unfortunately, scholarly monograph series in general have been disappearing, as academic publishers have become more market-driven. Never abundant, Latin American studies series have dwindled dramatically even as Latin America has become more peaceful, prosperous, and democratic, and while its culture remains as lively and original as ever. This makes the Bucknell Studies in Latin American Literature and Theory even more unique. With its intensive focus on literature and culture (other Latin American studies series favor the social sciences and current events), as well as in the quality and variety of its books, our series compares favorably with those from larger university presses, such as Duke and the University of Texas at Austin.
What kind of research and work are you involved with professionally right now? Do your academic interests overlap with the scholarship of the series? How does your editing fit into your own academic goals?
I’m currently writing a book about the appropriation of religious discourse in the twentieth- and twenty-first century Latin American novel, from the Mexican Federico Gamboa in 1903 to the Chilean Roberto Bolaño in 2003. It’s an ambitious undertaking, but I’m convinced it’s worth a try. I’m also collaborating with Gustavo Guerrero, a distinguished Venezuelan critic and Latin American studies editor for Gallimard, who lives and teaches in Paris, to establish an international research group on the subject of “Globalization and Latin American Literature.” My main field of expertise in Latin American literature is modernismo, a literary movement from the turn of the nineteenth century that set the stage for the great Latin American literature of the twentieth in virtually all genres. Being an expert on modernismo has allowed me to work comfortably in earlier periods, even as far back as Colonial times, as well as in present-day Latin American literature. Editing has helped me fulfill two of my most cherished goals: to mentor new critics and scholars and to encourage innovation in our field.
What do you enjoy most about your involvement with the series?
Above all, it’s the pleasure of keeping in touch with significant new research in my field and helping to bring that research to fruition in books edited and produced with extraordinary care and professionalism by Bucknell University Press.