I’m an associate professor of comparative literature at the Department of Spanish, Literary Theory & Linguistics at the University of Santiago de Compostela, the second position in this field in the history of this university. I teach courses in comparative literature, literary theory, ecocriticism, and transatlantic studies. I’ve published research on those topics. My research is focused mainly on intersections and overlaps of literary texts and cultural artefacts across languages, interpretive communities, cultures, media, space, and time. This is why I’ve found in world literature studies a fruitful and challenging testing ground in which my main concerns about why literary imagination is so relevant for human beings may be addressed.
My understanding of comparative literature mainly draws from George Steiner and Claudio Guillén.
I take comparative literature to be, at best, an exact and exacting art of reading, a style of listening to oral and written acts of language which privileges certain components in these acts. Such components are not neglected in any mode of literary study, but they are, in comparative literature, privileged.
Steiner, “What is comparative literature?” ( 1995)
lo que infunde vida y carácter propios a la Literatura Comparada es un conjunto de problemas –con los que solamente ella puede y quiere encararse.
Guillén, Entre lo uno y lo diverso (1985)
The irresistible attraction that comparative literature exerts in some people is inextricably linked to a passion for languages insofar as comparative literature requires reading literary works in as many languages as possible and, when it’s not possible, in translation (pace Steiner). But a key factor should not be overlooked: there’re power relations between languages. That’s why a pressing issue for comparative literature should be minor languages and endangered languages. Here, my main inspiration is Steiner again.
Each language maps the world differently. […] When a language dies a possible world dies with it. There is here no survival of the fittest. […] Inherent in “After Babel” is the accelerating disappearance of languages across our earth, the detergent sovereignty of so-called major languages whose dynamic efficacy springs from the planetary spread of mass-marketing, technocracy, and the media.
Steiner, After Babel ( 1998; Preface to the second edition)
I guess this is the reason why my teaching and research in the field of comparative literature are mainly concerned with theories of comparative literature as elaborated from peripheral areas and in minor languages as well as with applications of comparative literature to this kind of situations. And here, my main inspiration is the Slovak comparatist Dionýz Ďurišin.
world literature is not a rigid category, but a very flexible, vivid and fundamental element of literature and literary life. It is a historical and therefore mutable entity: it changes, as do epochs, literatures and readers’ habits.Ďurišin, “World literature as a target literary-historical category” ( 2013)
I try to convey all these interests to my students, either the ones with whom I share classes or the ones who read my publications, such as the introductory textbook to comparative literature I’ve co-written with my mentor Darío Villanueva and my colleague Haun Saussy, Introducing comparative literature: New methods and applications (Routledge, 2015), which has been translated into Spanish (2016) and Arabic (2017).
As for my latest projects, I’m working on a book monograph on the Spanish translation –not only the first translation into any language but rather a true “original”– of Erich Auerbach’s Mimesis: dargestellte Wirklichkeit in der abendländischen Literatur (1946) through extensive archive research in Fondo de Cultura Económica’s library, Colegio de México’s archives, Houghton Library at Harvard University, Fundación Juan March’s library, and Deutsches Literaturarchiv Marbach. I’m also working on a “thick translation” of Dionýz Ďurišin’s 1992 book Čo je svetová literatúra? Other more short-term projects include position papers on, first, environmental comparative literature and, second, transatlantic studies. If you’re interested in my other projects, please visit my projects page.