“From Dictatorship to the Digital: Contexts for Reading Junot Díaz’s ‘Oscar Wao’,” public lecture by Elena Machado Sáez



January 14, 2016
3:30 pmto5:20 pm

Pacific Hall 123
1025 University St.
UO campus

a Public Lecture by Elena Machado Sáez, Professor of English, Bucknell University  

Caribbean diasporic historical fiction is intimately wedded to the present, informed by the interrelated systems of globalization and multiculturalism. The postcolonial imperative of ethically depicting Caribbean history and subjectivities comes into conflict with the horizon of expectation created by reader reception, and this creative tension inspires the market aesthetics of Caribbean diasporic writing. Reading Junot Díaz as part of a transnational literary trend that troubles the relationship between ethnic writers and their audiences, Machado Sáez analyzes how the novel of Oscar Wao imagines the encounter with the reader in terms of the irreconcilability of gender and sexuality. The first half of the presentation will discuss how Yunior’s dictation of Oscar’s desires is contextualized by the Dominican diaspora’s inheritance of dictatorship. The second half of the presentation will focus on the digital horizons of marginalia that form part of the novel’s reception, especially online annotation projects dedicated to translating Oscar Wao.

Elena Machado Sáez is a professor of English at Bucknell University. She is author of Market Aesthetics: The Purchase of the Past in Caribbean Diasporic Fiction (University of Virginia Press 2015). The book analyzes historical fiction by Caribbean diasporic authors in Britain, Canada and the United States as part of a global literary trend that addresses the relationship between ethnic writers and their audiences. Machado Sáez argues that the novels address the problematic of intimacy and ethics in relation to readership by focusing on how gender and sexuality represent sites of contestation in the formulation of Caribbean identity and history. She is also coauthor with Raphael Dalleo of The Latino/a Canon and the Emergence of Post-Sixties Literature (Palgrave Macmillan 2007), which discusses how Cuban-American, Dominican-American, and Puerto Rican literatures challenge established ideas about the relationship between politics and the market.

Sponsored by the Department of English, College of Arts and Sciences, Ethnic Studies, the Oregon Humanities Center, and the Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies.

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