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The Semiotics of Violence: Reading Italo Calvino’s The Castle of Crossed Destinies

Debamitra Kar, Women’s College, Calcutta, India

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Abstract

This paper attempts a reading of Italo Calvino’s novel, The Castle of Crossed Destinies (1969) from a postmodern perspective. The novel has always been seen as structuralist experimentation, particularly because it was written at a time when Calvino was associated with the OULIPO, the group of the French philosophers like Claude Levi-Strauss, Roland Barthes and others. The paper argues that the simultaneous reading of the words in the text and pictures in the margin, challenges the very practice and method of reading. The novel suggests that it can be read as a card game, a game that accentuates deferral and plurality of meaning. These conflicting readings create the semiotics of violence, which again is reflected in the theme of the stories. The paper cites example of three stories which show that the violence of language is codified as the violence of the feminine on the masculine, arguing that the feminine challenges the rules, laws, and structures of language as well as life and destroys things that adheres to any strict binary form. The conflict between the rule of the Father and the lawlessness of the Mother leads to no higher synthesis—it ends in violence that refuses all routes of communication or meaning.

Electroacoustic Music in Mexico

Rodrigo Sigal, Centro Mexicano para la Música y las Artes Sonoras, Mexico

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Abstract

Mexico has been an outsider to the electroacoustic music movement. Countries like Argentina, Cuba and Chile were pioneers in establishing electronic music centers in the continent. This texts aim to illustrate briefly the story behind the first initiatives in Mexico andthe actual situation and characteristics of the institutional electroacoustic music scene.

Kittens in the Oven: Race Relations, Traumatic Memory, and the Search for Identity in Julia Alvarez’s How the García Girls Lost Their Accents

Natalie Carter, George Washington University, USA

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Abstract

The search for an ever-elusive home is a thread that runs throughout much literature by authors who have immigrated to the United States.  Dominican authors are particularly susceptible to this search for a home because “for many Dominicans, home is synonymous with political and/or economic repression and is all too often a point of departure on a journey of survival” (Bonilla 200).  This “journey of survival” is a direct reference to the dictatorship of Rafael Leonidas Trujillo Molina, who controlled the Dominican Republic from 1930-1961. The pain and trauma that Trujillo inflicted upon virtually everyone associated with the Dominican Republic during this era is still heartbreakingly apparent, and perhaps nowhere is that trauma more thoroughly illustrated than in the literature of Julia Alvarez.  Alvarez is a prime example of an author who utilizes narrative in a clear attempt to come to grips with lingering traumatic memories.  After her father’s role in an attempt to overthrow the dictator is revealed, Alvarez’s family is forced to flee the Dominican Republic as political exiles, and a sense of displacement has haunted her since.  Because both the Dominican Republic and the United States are extraordinary racially charged, concepts of home and identity are inextricably bound to race relations in much of Alvarez’s art.  Using theoretical concepts drawn from the fields of trauma studies and Black cultural studies, this essay examines Alvarez’s debut novel in order to illustrate the myriad ways in which culture, politics, and race converge and speak through each other, largely in the form of traumas that can irreparably alter one’s sense of home, voice, and identity.

In ‘prison-house of love’[i]: The Bad Girl and bad girls of Mario Vargas Llosa

Tajuddin Ahmed, Netaji Subhas Ashram Mahavidyalaya, India

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Abstract

Mario Vargas Llosa’s recent novel The Bad Girl centers around a sexually liberated woman who is in search of individual emancipation through transgressions of all social norms. The issue of female sexuality and its relation with woman liberation occupies an important and debatable position in Feminist discourse. Llosa’s own attitude to liberated female sexuality had been an ambivalent one. In this paper I would like analyse and explore the question of woman’s liberation in the novel of Mario Vargas Llosa, taking into account the major conflicting Feminist discourses as well as the presence and erasure of female sexuality in the history of Latin American novels. 

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