September 25, 2018
Spanish professor awarded prize for publication on women's participation in the avant-garde
Rebecca Bender, assistant professor of Spanish in the modern languages department, was awarded the second place Adela Zamudio Prize for her 2017 article, "Fashion, Ekphrasis, and the Avant-Garde Novel: Carmen de Burgos's La mujer fantástia (1924)."
The Adela Zamudio prize is awarded annually by Feministas Unidas for the two best essays of the year in the areas of feminist studies, gender studies, queer studies and studies related to works of literature and cinema by female authors. Feministas Unidas is a nonprofit Coalition of Feminist Scholars in Spanish, Spanish-American, Luso-Brazilian, Afro-Latin American, and U.S. Hispanic and Latino Studies.
Bender's article examines moments of ekphrasis — the literary description of works of art — in La mujer fantástica that connect the fashion-obsessed protagonist to a long history of royal European portraiture. By analyzing Burgos's juxtaposition of fashion and art from the 19th-century France and 20th-century Spain, Bender argues that this overlooked novel challenges the notion that Spanish avant-garde literature represents an abrupt break from the past. It also validates fashion and make-up as nontraditional feminine artistic mediums while establishing a cultural and historical trajectory of women's fashion as integral to artistic production.
"Fashion, Ekphrasis, and the Avant-Garde Novel: Carmen de Burgos's La mujer fantástia," is available to read open-access in Ciberletras, an online, peer-reviewed journal of literary criticism and culture that studies the literatures of Spain and Latin America. For a shorter, illustrated description of this project, Bender's blog highlights key points and works of art.
The modern languages department is part of the College of Arts and Sciences. Currently, more than 60 percent of students pursuing modern languages degrees participate in education abroad programs, where they use languages they are learning. To learn more about the department, please visit its website.