Redes literarias: Antología del texto hispánico en su contexto histórico-cultural ed. by Mindy E. Badía and Bonnie L. Gasior
After decades of formal segregation in the academy, Redes literarias provides an elegant and exciting solution to introducing both Spanish and Latin American literature within their historical-cultural contexts. A well-developed, diverse anthology, Redes literarias provides both instructor and student the necessary resources for teaching and studying this rich literary production. Redes [End Page 134] literarias is pitched at the undergraduate 300–400 level, although it is more advanced than the classic introduction to Hispanic literature anthologies like Ed Friedman’s, Aproximaciones al estudio de la literatura hispánica. In addition to college students, anyone looking to refresh their Spanish with some shorter, excellent reads would do well to pick up Redes literarias.
Badía and Gasior have created a text whose structure is “sencilla pero detallada; su lenguaje, académico pero asequible; su contenido, riguroso pero atractivo” (1). Divided into four broadly defined chronological sections, the textbook provides succinct yet thorough introductions to the historical, intellectual, and aesthetic considerations relevant to each space-time. The first section, for example, “La Edad Media española y la producción cultural americana prehispánica,” juxtaposes the literary production of these overlapping time periods and prompts the student to thoughtfully consider the potential violence of the clash of cultures to come. Texts presented from Spain in this section include selections from the Cantar de Mio Cid (in modernized Spanish, but including, importantly, one section in the original), Berceo, don Juan Manuel, and some anonymous romances. Texts from the Americas include Rabinal Achí, poetry by Nezahualcóyotl, and selections from the Popul Vuh. Prior to each individual text, the authors provide an outline that includes relevant literary terminology, information surrounding the author’s social context, and, helpfully, some suggested visual imagery from the time period that is available on the Internet. The “Cuestionarios” that follow each selection facilitate both comprehension and class discussion. The most innovative aspect of the book, however, is the “Redes analíticas” section at the end of each unit which encourages students to make critical connections between peninsular and Latin American texts. The other sections include El Renacimiento, Barroco y período colonial; Los siglos XVIII y XIX en España y Latinoamérica; El siglo XX y período contemporáneo en España y Latinoamérica.
The diversity of genres and authors is a strength of the book. Poetry, prose, drama, essay, and non-fiction are all represented here, as are twelve women authors. Regional diversity is also broadly represented with Latin American texts from México, Colombia, Argentina, Chile, Cuba, Nicaragua, Uruguay, Puerto Rico, Perú, and the continental United States. Many of the works are either fragments or on the shorter side. However, the editors have included a few longer works including two full-length plays, Bodas de sangre and El sí de las niñas. As with any anthology, individuals will find some favorites missing. However, there are other less-anthologized gems to be found, especially María de Zayas’s scorching essay, Al que leyere. Juan Felipe Herrera’s 187 Reasons Mexicanos Can’t Cross the Border is an excellent coup for the editors and brings to the collection a top, living Latinx author. The authors acknowledge that the number of texts included may make their text “un poco difícil de manejar” (2). Their “Nota a los instructores,” however, provides guidance on how to use the text for courses ranging from a single semester to a four-semester sequence (3). An instructor interested in using this text will need to carefully select the texts that are most appropriate to the course they are teaching to form a coherent curriculum.
Resources for both instructor and student are convenient and robust. Advanced vocabulary is glossed in footnotes, helpfully, in the target language. The introductions and outlines for each text offer what amounts to a series of lesson-plan sketches. These outlines frame each text within a socio-historic context and provide a guide to highlighting both elements of close-reading and critical analysis. The comprehension questions and comparative analysis questions are well designed, intelligent, and numerous enough to provide the instructor with a test bank of questions that are leftover after class discussion. The book also includes a comprehensive yet succinct glossary of literary terms with definitions and examples in the target language. Lastly, a lengthy list of film recommendations allows the class to pursue additional literary/visual products from these extraordinarily rich cultures. Redes literarias is a comprehensive, accessible, and innovative anthology that will serve the advanced Spanish student for years to come. [End Page 135]