Tag Archives: Toronto Iberic

  • Toronto: A City of Neighbourhoods

    In today's stop on the University Press Week Blog Tour (November 12-17), our Director of Sales and Marketing, Jane Kelly, discusses the many neighbourhoods that constitute and define the city of Toronto, and how UTP publishes for and about those neighbourhoods as part of its mission. An excellent contribution for today's theme of #TurnItUP: The Neighbourhood.

    By Jane Kelly

    Earlier this year the UTP Book Publishing group moved to a new location in Toronto. After almost 30 years in the same office, we moved to a brand new high tech open concept office space in downtown Toronto. As a new employee and a suburbanite, this was my first time working downtown and this move gave me the opportunity to explore and learn more about the city.

    Toronto is known by many different nicknames: The Big Smoke, T Dot, The Six. It is the biggest city in Canada and is the financial centre of Canada. However, it is not a cosmopolitan city, it is a city of neighbourhoods. The Toronto Star recently published a listing of 170 unique neighbourhoods identified by their geographic boundaries, history, or unique population. A ten-minute walk from our new office location can take you to Yorkville, the Kensington Market, the Annex, or the financial district. Walk a little more and you can tour the entertainment district, Little Italy, or the Distillery District.

    UTP recognizes these diverse neighbourhoods by publishing titles that celebrate the cultures, people, and politics of Toronto’s neighbourhoods. Toronto Iberic and Toronto Italian Studies Series give a voice to scholarship and research for these populations. Individual books like Kensington Market by Na Li focus exclusively on well-known Toronto neighbourhoods. UTP also publishes many books focused on important issues that affect individuals in these neighbourhoods like racism, poverty, the environment, and education. Our recent publication, Queering Urban Justice, examines how to map space in ways that address very real histories of displacement and erasure.

    As I discover Toronto, I also learn more about the thousands of books from the UTP list. After a short 9 months with the book publishing team, I am so impressed with my coworkers’ dedication to the mission of the organization “to publish exemplary works of scholarship, and to disseminate knowledge widely for the benefit of society.”

    In Canada, research shows that loneliness is reaching epidemic levels and one in five people suffer from loneliness, the effects of which can be as damaging as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Social media technology designed to bring people together could be contributing to increased feelings of loneliness. People need to connect with others and find a community. Perhaps by giving a voice to Toronto neighbourhoods, UTP can help people be more connected.

    To continue on Day Three of the University Press Week Blog Tour, check out posts by these other fine university presses:

    University of Manitoba Press
    Blog: https://uofmpress.ca/blog
    Twitter: @umanitobapress

    Syracuse University Press
    Blog: https://syracusepress.wordpress.com/
    Twitter: @SUPress

    Fordham University Press
    Blog: www.fordhampress.com/blog
    Twitter: @FordhamPress

    Northwestern University Press
    Blog: https://incidentalnoyes.com/
    Twitter: @northwesternUP

    University Press of Mississippi
    Blog: http://upmississippi.blogspot.com/
    Twitter: @upmiss

    Temple University Press
    Blog: https://templepress.wordpress.com/
    Twitter: @TempleUnivPress

    University of Alberta Press
    Blog: https://holeinthebucket.wordpress.com/
    Twitter: @UAlbertaPress

    University of Texas Press
    Blog: http://utpressnews.blogspot.com
    Twitter: @UTexasPress

    University of Washington Press
    Blog: https://uwpressblog.com/
    Twitter: @UWAPress

    Johns Hopkins University Press
    Blog: https://www.press.jhu.edu/news/blog
    Twitter: @JHUPress

    University of Illinois Press
    Blog: https://www.press.uillinois.edu/wordpress/
    Twitter: @IllinoisPress

    Rutgers University Press
    Blog: https://www.rutgersuniversitypress.org/category/news/
    Twitter: @RutgersUPress

    Oregon State University Press
    Blog: http://osupress.oregonstate.edu/blog
    Twitter: @OSUPress

    Columbia University Press
    Blog: cupblog.org
    Twitter: @ColumbiaUP

    University of Georgia Press
    Blog: ugapress.wordpress.com
    Twitter: @UGAPress

  • In Conversation with Roberta Johnson and Silvia Bermudez

    Silvia Bermudez and Roberta Johnson are the editors of A New History of Iberian Feminisms

    Interviewer: Tell us more about what inspired both of you to start this project?

    Silvia and Roberta: Neither of us was encouraged to study literature by our families, as they were more practically minded. Fortunately, we persisted and eventually, after studying and publishing mostly on canonical male writers, we in our separate areas of specialization (Silvia in poetry; Roberta in the novel) came to write on female authors. We have known each other for many years and through our mutual participation in the University of California Iberian Studies Working Group hit upon the idea of co-editing a volume on feminism in the Iberian Peninsula that included Portugal and considered the major linguistic territories of Spain--Castile, the Basque Provinces, Catalonia, and Galicia.

    I: When did you start work on it?

    S&R: Thinking about the project began in 2012 when the first UC Iberian Working Group meeting took place at UC, Davis, and continued at the second meeting at UCSB in 2013. By the third meeting at UC, Davis, Silvia had agreed to co-edit, and we set about finding scholars to write on different periods and territories. We ended up with a fabulous team of dedicated and knowledgeable scholars from the US, England, Spain, Portugal, and New Zealand. These scholars were enthusiastic about the project and were instrumental in moving it forward. It was a real sisterhood of scholars that brought the book to fruition.

    I: What do you find most interesting about your area of research?

    S&R: We are fascinated by the stories of women who in other periods when independence for women was not taken for granted managed to live full creative lives despite the many obstacles they faced, especially in conservative, Catholic countries like Spain and Portugal. The differences in women's experiences in Spain and Portugal was also a revelation. We have been able to travel through time and space and "converse" with extraordinary writers from other periods and places.

    I: What do you wish other people knew about your area of research?

    S&R: We think feminist scholars of other national entities--the US, Britain, France, Italy, or Germany--would find Spanish feminism significantly different from that of the countries they study, and we hope they will want to include Spain in their courses and research now that in this book they have the tools to do so. We are passionate about our subject and are anxious to share our work with students, fellow scholars, and the general public.

    I: What’s the most surprising thing you discovered during the course of your research?

    S&R: We were struck by the importance of class issues inherent in the many ideological disagreements among Iberian feminist positions, and we were especially surprised to learn how well organized Basque feminists are and how cohesive and well developed their feminist research is.

    I: What did you learn from writing your book?

    S&R: We learned many details about feminism in other periods and all areas of the Iberian Peninsula that we did not know before, especially women writing feminist essays in the eighteenth century. Contrary to erroneous assumptions, women throughout the Spanish territories and Portugal were committed from early on to equal rights and advancing women's participation in the public sphere.

    I: What do you like to read for pleasure? What are you currently reading?

    S&R: Silvia reads mystery/detective novels and biographies and is currently reading Leonardo Da Vinci and The Silent Wife. Roberta reads current fiction and non-fiction in Spanish and English. Right now she is reading Fire and Fury and Sapiens.

    I: If you weren’t working in academia, what would you be doing instead?

    S&R: Silvia would be a tour guide, and Roberta would run a horse stables or ranch.

    Silvia Bermúdez is a professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

    Roberta Johnson is professor emerita of Spanish at the University of Kansas and adjunct professor of Spanish at the University of Kansas.

  • Behind the Book with Michael Scham

    Lector LudensMichael Scham is the author of 'Lector Ludens': The Representation of Games & Play in Cervantes. With Lector Ludens, Michael Scham uses Cervantes’s Don Quijote and Novelas ejemplares as the basis for a wide-ranging exploration of early modern Spanish views on recreations ranging from cards and dice to hunting, attending the theater, and reading fiction.

    How did you become involved in your area of research?
    I was an English major in college, but my junior year abroad, in Madrid, drew me into the vortex of early modern Spanish literature.

    What inspired you to write this book?
    First of all, my love for Cervantes. Then I was struck by the prevalence of play and recreation in his works. In addition to the presentation of the Novelas ejemplares through the metaphor of the mesa de trucos, or billiards table, Cervantine characters are frequently playing cards and dice and chess, hunting, participating in rustic competitions, reading manuscripts, telling stories and engaged in all manner of theatrical spectacles. As I pursued this material further, including humanist writings on ludic activity, it became increasingly clear that notions of the game and play present an appealing perspective on art. On the one hand, the artwork is a realm of play because it is separate from quotidian, purposive reality; it has its own special rules and conventions—is "autotelic," as Giamatti put it. On the other hand, the game and the artwork are fundamentally "semi-autonomous"; they always relates back to reality, however obliquely. An approach to literature from the perspective of games and play thus allows for a balance between hermetic excesses of formalism (or "art for art's sake") and the equally reductive practice of "relevance," or distilling the political or ideological content from a work of fiction.

    Furthermore, I am fascinated by how the game, like the artwork, induces the "suspension of disbelief," a sometimes rapturous, sometimes destructive imaginative, emotional and even ethical identification on the part of the reader, spectator, player: from quixotic readers who confuse reality with fiction, video gamers living through virtual avatars, gamblers who believe they can influence chance, soccer hooligans ready to exercise violence on behalf of their side, to a basketball fan who celebrates the San Antonio Spurs as a standard bearer for some sort of multicultural utopia (or, perhaps, just wishes he were Manu Ginobili). Cervantes was fascinated with the allure of play, in all its potential for beauty and coherence, as well as folly, degradation and destructiveness.

    What do you find most interesting about your area of research?
    Early modern humanists, moralists, physicians and theologians were acutely aware of the very benefits and dangers debated by politicians, pedagogues, neuroscientists and sociologists today. The role of play in childhood development and socialization, the cognitive advantages of engaging the body during contemplation, the therapeutic value of physical exertion, the ways play can condition our return to "real life," the comparative virtues of games of chance and skill, competition and collaboration... What they discuss in terms of "humours" we explain with "endorphins" and other chemical processes, but the observations and prescriptions are often the same. I don't mean to assert a facile equivalence between our understanding of human experience and theirs. But this research strengthened my conviction that, while rigorous attention to historical context is of course important, the results need not always confirm the "otherness" of temporally distant cultures. I now feel more secure in asserting that Cervantes, Montaigne, Erasmus and others not only share many of our preoccupations, but contemplate them in similar ways. The potential derision that such an assertion might draw from defenders against the "Romantic approach" (a term propagated by the excellent hispanist Anthony Close) no longer fills me with trepidation—even as it continues to sound a note of caution, a healthy attenuation of interpretive overreach.

    What are your current/future projects?
    I am currently in Buenos Aires, researching tango lyrics and literature. Of particular interest are the songs that cite early modern Spanish poetry, and that contain various continuities and reverberations: the cultivation of the grotesque, the linguistic innovations and identity of marginal urban groups, meditations on the experience of time. Any improvements in my own tango dancing should be viewed as an organic, fully justifiable by-product of said research!

    I am also continuing work on connections between law and literature, which is the topic of an interdisciplinary seminar I recurrently teach with a colleague from our College of Business. While the seminar ranges from Sophocles and Shakespeare to Melville and Camus, the primary contexts of my research in this area are trial scenes, and notions of guilt, natural and positive law in El cantar de mío Cid, picaresque narratives, and Cervantes.

    What do you like to read for pleasure? What are you currently reading?
    As usual, "pleasure reading" alternates between attending to my gaps in the canon, to works vaguely related to my research, and checking out contemporary writers recommended by friends and trusted reviewers. Recently this has involved Chekhov stories, the first volume of Knausgård's Min Kamp, some Baudelaire, stories by Isaac Bashevis Singer, Cortázar and Roberto Arlt, Raymond Carver, Alice Munro, Zweig's biography of Montaigne, and essays by Martin Amis. And there is currently a collection stories by Elmore Leonard on my night table, for which I shall make no excuses! (I suppose I just did)

    What is your favourite book?
    El ingenioso hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha.

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