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Jill Robbins, Chair 150 W 21st Street, Stop B3700, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4936

Spring 2008

SPN 380K • Revista Origenes

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
48395 T
1:00 PM-4:00 PM
BEN 1.118

Course Description

In the late 1940s Octavio Paz once called the Cuban literary journal Orígenes"the best publication of its kind in the language." In 1994 Casa de la Americas and the Union of Cuban Writers and Artists organized an ambitious conference to commemorate Orígenes as a precusor of the nationalist martiano spirit of the 1959 Revolution. Published from 1944 to 1956 by poet-writer José Lezama Lima and translator-essayist José Rodríguez Feo, Orígenes was in fact a cosmopolitan modernist journal that featured works by poets of international reknown such as T.S. Eliot, Wallace Stevens, and Saint-John Perse as well as by the young local authors of the grupo Orígenes." During the first decade of the Revolution, this journal was often condemned by the new cultural authorities for its apolitical divertionism. Still, each of the Cuban poets and writers that published in this journal (Lezama Lima, Vitier, García Marruz, Baquero, García Vega) would eventually become either officialized as part of the canon or revered as a cult writer, in or out of Cuba.

In this course I propose to use the Orígenes case as a model to examine and understand the cultural dynamics behind the emergence, esthetico-political agendas, discursive consolidation, polemical power, and historical and archival endurance of key literary journals in the Caribbean from the 19th to the 21th centuries. The legacy of Orígenes in Cuba and Latin America has been the subject of great intellectual debate given the eccentric, contrasting, and contradictory ways in which origenistas situated themselves vis-à-vis global literary currents and the immediate pre- and post-revolutionary experience in Cuba. Going both back and forward in Caribbean cultural history, in this course I will consider similar polemics concerning the cosmopolitan vs. localistic esthetico-political agendas of colonial and "neo-colonial" journals that could be considered either Orígenes' precursors (Lola Rodríguez de Tiós La almojábana, Julián del Casals La Habana elegante, Alejo Carpentiers Revista de avance, Antonio Pedreiras Indice) or post-1950s successors (Ciclón, Lunes de Revolución, Casa de las América, Caimán Barbudo, Zona Carga y Descarga, and Revista Encuentro). The course will consider how the many scholarly and literary polemics that have come up in Cuba and abroad regarding the works of origenistas Lezama Lima, Piñera, Vitier, García Marruz, Baquero, and García Vega have impacted the vision, practice, and/or scholarly interpretation of journal publishing as a source of lettered power (poder letrado), among intellectuals such as Guillermo Cabrera Infante and Heberto Padilla (Lunes de Revolución), Roberto Fernández Retamar (Casa de las Américas), Reinaldo Arenas (Revista Mariel), Rosario Ferré (Revista Zona Carga y Descarga), and Jesús Díaz (Revista Encuentro). We will also read testimonial novels and personal/scholarly accounts or studies about Orígenes, its precursors and successors. I plan to use the holdings of these journals at the Benson Collection to full advantage In doing so, I will also address issues in Caribbean archival politics and fashioning such as journal valoration, acquisition, and preservation as as a form of academic capital.

Grading Policy

Term paper with draft (50%); short written assignments and commentaries (25%); seminar participation and short presentation assignments (25%)


Tentative Readings: Journals: Orígenes, revista de literatura y arte (1944-1956). [Selections] Revista La Almojábana [Selections] La Habana elegante [Selections] Revista Avance [Selections] Revista Ciclón [Selections] Lunes de Revolución [Selections] Revista Zona Carga y Descarga [Selections] Testimonial novels/Essays/Correspondence Cintio Vitier, De Peña Pobre, Fina Garcia Marruz, La familia de Orígenes Lorenzo Garcia Vega, Los años de Orígenes Jesús Díaz, Las palabras perdidas Roberto Pérez León, Tiempo de Ciclón Antonio José Ponte, El libro perdido de los origenistas José Rodríguez Feo and Wallace Stevens, Secretaries of the Moon José Lezama Lima and José Rodríguez Feo, Correspondencia Supplementary texts, studies and articles by: Julio Cortázar, Alejo Carpentier, Severo Sarduy, Guillermo Cabrera Infante, Heberto Padilla, Reinaldo Arenas, Lydia Cabrera, Nancy Morejón, Roberto Fernández Retamar, Zoé Valdés, Arcadio Díaz Quiñones, Jorge Luis Arcos, Víctor Fowler, Rafael Rojas, Celina Mazzoni, Jesús Barquet, Juan Carlos Quintero Herencia, Sonia Labrador Rodríguez


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