University of Salamanca creates the first Dominican Studies program in Europe

María Jesús Gutiérrez reports that the University of Salamanca has created the first chair in Dominican Studies in Europe—the only one in Spain. The proposal came from Dominican poet and scholar Néstor Rodríguez, from the University of Toronto. Gutiérrez interviews Eva Guerrero for this article. Here are excerpts:

Eva Guerrero, head of Hispanic American Literature at the University of Salamanca, is responsible for one of the lines in that department, specifically the Dominican Studies chair.

What are the foundations of the Pedro Henríquez Ureña Chair

The ‘Pedro Henríquez Ureña’ Chair of Dominican Studies at the University of Salamanca is the first one dedicated to Dominican studies at a Spanish University. It is the oldest in Europe, since after this one, the one in Paris was created in 2015 and, recently, in 2019, another was inaugurated in Milan. The proposal came from Dominican poet and critic Néstor Rodríguez from the University of Toronto, who in 2011, when we invited him to give a talk at our university, realized the need to study the rich Dominican literature. At that time, there were already two Chairs in our Department, the Venezuelan and the Chilean chairs, both directed by Dr. Ruiz Barrionuevo, and he proposed the possibility of creating another dedicated exclusively to Dominican literature. In 2012 it was inaugurated with the signing of the agreement between this University and the Ministry of Culture of the Dominican Republic. From that moment, I assumed its coordination, with the invaluable help of Carmen Ruiz Barrionuevo, architect for many years of the project, who had defended, with the Ramos Sucre Chair since 1993, the need to establish a greater relationship with Hispanic American writers and educators [. . .]. Other professors joined this work with great dedication: Francisca Noguerol, Mª Ángeles Pérez López, Mª José Bruña and, recently, José Manuel González Álvarez.

What is the objective of the Chair?

The main objective is to promote the study and research of Dominican literature, which is quite unknown, but of a truly wide and inestimable wealth and production. The list of authors that we can cite would be long and of quality, starting with Pedro Henríquez Ureña, Manuel de Jesús Galván, Salomé Ureña, Aída Cartagena Portalatín, Manuel del Cabral, Juan Bosch, Marcio Veloz Maggiolo, José Mármol, Ángela Hernández, Pedro Mir, Rita Indiana Hernández, etc.; however, for various reasons, they are names that circulate with difficulty in the canon of Latin American letters. The study of Dominican literature in Europe, as an integrated discipline in universitie,s is relatively recent if we compare it with the United States, where in 1992 the Center for Dominican Studies of the City University of New York was founded. However, little by little initiatives are emerging on both sides of the Atlantic, which allows us to carry out a sustained work of investigation around Dominican letters in the professional academic circuit.

Since the creation of the Chair, what activities have you focused on?

The Chair annually holds seminars integrated into the Master of the Department of Spanish and Hispano-American Literature and also sponsors conferences on various topics. For example, the events that have promoted the most classic authors have been important, such as conferences on Pedro Henríquez Ureña and his relationship with Borges; Dominican literature and orality; current Dominican poetry; literary criticism and social commitment in such outstanding figures as Manuel Matos Moquete or Pedro Vergés. There has also been a place for the “rescue” of authors such as Mélida García and Salomé Ureña. Recognized critics have offered seminars such as Catherine Pélage’s on Rita Indiana Hernández and Junot Díaz; another given by Alain Atouba Edjeba (Cameroon) on the representation of black culture, something essential in this country; the one by Fernanda Bustamante Escalona (Chile/University of Alcalá) which dealt with ‘Literature and cinema’; and one by Rocío Oviedo and Pérez de Tudela (UCM), ‘The dream of a nation. An introduction to the Dominican literature of the last century.’ Néstor Rodríguez (Toronto) offered this year (via Zoom) the seminar ‘Dominican literature and modernity.’ Likewise, doctoral theses on Dominican literature have emerged, something fundamental in our work.

Translated by Ivette Romero. For full article (in Spanish), see https://www.elnortedecastilla.es/salamanca/guerrero-salamanca-creo-20210516105603-nt.html

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