- Approaches to Teaching the Writings of Emilia Pardo Bazán ed. by Margot Versteeg and Susan Walter
In this ambitious volume, Margot Versteeg and Susan Walter assemble an expansive array of approaches to and methods of teaching the abundant and varied texts of Emilia Pardo Bazán at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. The two-part volume is divided between a succinct yet thorough “materials” section and a lengthier “approaches” section, which boasts twenty-three short essays by established scholars in the field. The result is an invaluable pedagogical tool for specialists and non-specialists alike that convincingly demonstrates Pardo Bazán’s continued relevance and appeal to twenty-first century students of both Spanish and comparative literatures and cultures. The goals of this volume are twofold: to bring the Galician-Spanish author to a wider audience, advocating for her inclusion through translation in comparative, transatlantic and European literature courses; and to encourage instructors to push beyond traditional classroom treatments of Pardo Bazán, which tend to frame her as a naturalist author and accordingly privilege somewhat narrow readings of particular canonical texts.
The impressive compilation of bibliographic materials provided at the beginning of the volume promotes a considerable breadth of pedagogical approaches to Pardo Bazán that take into account the diverse needs of students and teachers alike. Accordingly, Versteeg and Walter provide a helpful overview of biographies about Pardo Bazán as well as an annotated account of collections and editions of her works in Spanish and English. They also include a formidable literary review of scholarship on both Pardo Bazán and nineteenth-century Spain. The essay contributions that comprise the second part of this volume, meanwhile, represent a wide range of critical perspectives and offer truly innovative approaches, ideas and methods for incorporating Pardo Bazán’s works into the classroom.
The essays are arranged thematically into five groups that roughly parallel the critical approaches to Pardo Bazán’s works identified by Versteeg and Walter in their introduction: gendered perspectives; science and medicine; nation, empire and geopolitics; realism, naturalism and literary connections; and interdisciplinary approaches. While contributors present critical claims about Pardo Bazán’s writings, every essay foregrounds the teaching of her texts. In the first section, Bieder contextualizes Pardo Bazán’s feminism while Isabel Clúa demonstrates how the Galician author’s fiction may be used to illustrate gendered and feminist theories. Nalbone shows how Pardo Bazán’s short stories and newspaper articles elucidate women’s subordinate position in the Spanish fin de siècle while Erwin details a graduate course that introduces students to masculinity studies through her novels. Missing is perhaps an essay dedicated to an ecofeminist approach to teaching Pardo Bazán, given that Versteeg and Walter identify ecofeminism as “[t]he newest trend in gendered approaches” to her work (25). In the second section, Charnon-Deustch analyzes newspaper articles and short stories that demonstrate Pardo Bazán’s ambivalent stance on issues of race while Pratt draws out the author’s often contradictory views on science and modern technology. Sutherland’s description of her project-based course foregrounds the medical discourses of Un viaje de novios (1881) through student participation in online archival research. In the third section, Tolliver proposes essay/short story [End Page 83] pairings to examine the Spanish author’s colonial/imperialist attitudes while Ingram employs Pardo Bazán’s cookbooks to discuss issues of gender, class consciousness and national identity in the classroom. Miguélez-Carballeira reads Pardo Bazán through a postcolonial theoretical lens that uncovers an Orientalizing narratorial attitude toward the Galician rural poor. González Arias arrives at a different conclusion, emphasizing Pardo Bazán’s engagement with the Galician community and reading her rural short stories as anthropological accounts.
Gold opens the fourth section of the volume with an essay fundamental for instructors addressing Pardo Bazán’s approach to literary realism. Noteworthy chapters by Dupont and McKenna outline different approaches to incorporating Pardo Bazán’s...