Spanish at Bennington Spring 2022 Class Highlights
Visiting Spanish Faculty Member Lena Retamoso Urbano, a poet and a scholar of contemporary Latin American Literature and Culture, shared a few highlights from the Spring 2022 term.
At Bennington, students learn a language while creating with it. From day one, reading and writing, listening and speaking are all directed towards discussing complex cultural ideas, leading students to perform, tell stories, conduct research, create art objects, and analyze cultural artifacts. During the spring 2022 term, Retamoso Urbano’s students experienced these rich cultural concepts firsthand. Here are a few class highlights:
Cartography of Desire in Spanish and Latin American Poetry
During this class, students discussed the varied approaches from which desire is written, from a surrealist perspective, through philosophical-poetic traditions and a Non-Western Cosmology, to an animalistic point of view. To develop appropriate theoretical and contextual support, students took a deep dive into secondary sources by critical theorists such as Roland Barthes, George Bataille, Guillermo Sucre, and Elena Castro, working with key concepts such as Eros, myth, and rite. Then they examined representative poetic texts by 20th century Latin American and Spanish poets including Federico García Lorca, Luis Cernuda, César Moro, and Blanca Varela.
For their final projects in Spanish, students researched, presented, and collaborated to create an “intervening” poem by the Mexican poet Gloria Collado, whose work was presented by Lily Osornio ’25. Other participating students included Hazel Medina Morin '24, Sofía Pacheco Pardo '22, Meaghan Paine '22, Sha’mar Dennison '22, Teagan Moon ’25, Gerry Azpiri '24, Jack Casey ’25, and Luisa Solis ’25.
Queering Creation in the Arts of Latin America
For this class, students analyzed in depth authors such as César Moro, Pedro Lemebel, Alejandra Pizarnik, and Felipe Cussen, who are representative voices of the counter cultural 20th and 21st Century Latin American literary and artistic scenery. Working with fluctuating definitions of Queer theory, especially from authors such as José Esteban Muñoz, Judith Butler, and David W. Foster, students outlined a queer aesthetic dimension in Modern Latin American literature and the arts. Discussions, presentations, recitations, and performances provided different means to develop the students’ oral proficiency.
A few examples of work in this class include students reciting Pizarnik's poems by memory and attempting initial translations, taking Pizarnik's poems and creating a short video as captivating as the verses themselves, and then created collages using pieces of the work of the collective Yeguas del Apocalipsis (Mares of the Apocalypse). They also rewrote their own version of the manifesto: Yo hablo por mi diferencia (I speak from my difference) by Pedro Lemebel.
Additionally, as part of this and the Cartography of Desire course, students had the opportunity to dialogue in Spanish with guest speakers, Dr. Marlene Gottlieb (Manhattan College), Dr. Nuria Morgado (College of Staten Island and The Graduate Center of NY), and as part of the Queering Creation course, with the renowned Mexican writer Mario Bellatin, who also visited the Spanish Table.
Participating students included Hazel Medina Morin '24, Lily Osornio '25, Sofía Pacheco Pardo '22, Meaghan Paine '22, Sha’mar Dennison '22, Teagan Moon ’25, Gerry Azpiri '24, Jack Casey ’25, Luisa Solis ’25, Gi Schock '25, Lola Wilson-Kolp '22, Kira Sage '23, and Alausi Martinez '23.
About Lena Retamoso Urbano
A poet and a scholar of contemporary Latin American Literature and Culture, Lena Retamoso Urbano's research includes 20th and 21st century Latin American and Spanish poetry, Transnational surrealism, 20th century Latin American narrative, intertextuality, Queer theory, Latin American Avant-Garde movements, Peruvian poetry, the Generation of ‘27, Transatlantic studies, Modern fiction and poetics, the Poetics of Eros, and Literary and Artistic connections between Latin America and the US.
In 2020, the Municipality of Lima, Peru began an initiative called “Lima Lee” (“Lima Reads”) As a part of this initiative, they have been uploading the works of various national and international authors to the Web. This May, her first poetry book Milagros de Ausencia, (“Miracles of Absence”) originally published in 2002, was selected to be reissued as part of the collection Contemporary Peruvian Poetry.
On May 21, she participated in a poetry reading on MakerParkRadio. Listen to the recording of the event.