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Romina Wainberg

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19th to 21st Century Latin American Literature
Weird Fiction
Philosophy of Art
Materialisms (Old and New)
Gender and Sexuality
Heavy Metal Studies

Romina Wainberg

My dissertation, Powers of Unproductiveness: Writing as a Means of Resistance in Early Latin American Fiction, examines Latin American novels from the 1840s through the 1950s where characters use writing as a means of resistance to exploitation. Acknowledging that in the post-independence period 'writing' may be conceived as a tool for neocolonial domination (Rama, Mignolo) or a liberal profession (Sommer, Rincón-Bisbey), I argue that certain penning practices are unproductive in the sense that they work against the interests of early capitalism in the Americas. To prove my thesis, I show that in foundational novels from Brazil, Cuba, Venezuela, and Mexico, the engagement in minor genres (such as notes, scribbles, letters, diaries) serves diverse characters (clerks, homemakers, enslaved peoples, Indigenous leaders) to express themselves outside and beyond the socioeconomic demands of their societies. By engaging in unproductive writing exercises, characters also unlock hitherto unexplored experiences of time, space, and the body. 
 
My research contributes to sociological and historiographical debates on the role of the written letter in the Latin American independence and post-independence period (Rama, Somer, Molloy, Mignolo), shedding light on overlooked writerly dynamics and demystifying the direct correlation between writing and domination. I also contribute to speculations on how the act of writing was (or could have been) experienced in nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century Latin America; in the absence of archival evidence painstakingly documenting how it might have felt like to write from the region at the time, early novels serve as privileged sources to interrogate how authors lived their own creative processes or imagined—often, contentiously—the writing experiences of others. In addition, my research intervenes in ongoing discussions on the all-absorbing nature of capitalistic systems (Serres, James) and proposes minor, unproductive writing practices as ways of eluding the complete hijacking of life by productivity and work. Finally, I suggest that the unproductive writing exercises portrayed in early novels provide contemporary scholars, literary authors, and students with untried penning strategies and techniques. 
 
More broadly speaking... I'm interested in Latin American aesthetics’ potential for expanding the onto-epistemological breadth of other fields of knowledge; some of the intersections that I've explored so far include: media theory, philosophy of technology, and science fiction; motion graphics and aesthetic computing; plastic art and philosophy of art; postmodern novels and theories of individuation; Amerindian thought, contemporary metaphysics, and short fiction; feminist philosophy and perspectival anthropology; poetry, gender identity laws, and LGBTQ+ approaches to the gender/sex dyad. I've also worked on the relationship between extractivism and aesthetics in Portugal and Brazil—in particular, I've looked at the tension between gemstones’ chemical composition, their historical aestheticization, and the forced and exploitative labor inherent in their geological extraction.
 
I am the Graduate Student Coordinator of the DLCL Focal Unit materia, the DLCL Reading Group Marxisms, the DIF Project Queer Latin American Voices, and the France-Stanford Collaborative Research Project The Multiplicity Turn: Theories of Identity from Poetry to Mathematics.
 
My least favorite ice cream flavor is lemon. My email is rwain@stanford.edu
 
Recent courses:
- ILAC 278A: Senior Seminar: 4 Boom Novels
- COMPLIT 258A/ILAC 211-311: Existentialism, from Moral Quest to Novelistic Form
- ILAC 161: Modern Latin American Literature
- COMPLIT 123A/ILAC 123A: Resisting Coloniality: Then and Now
- COMPLIT 139A/ILAC 139: Jaguars and Labyrinths: A Survey of South American Short Fiction 
 
In 2022-2023, I'll be teaching:
-ILAC 255: Climate Change and Latin American Naturecultures 

 

Education

Now Studying...

2017-: Ph.D., Iberian and Latin American Cultures, Stanford University

2016-: Graduate Gemologist, Gemological Institute of America

 

Background

M.Phil., Hispanic Studies, University of Glasgow 

B.A., Modern Literature and Literary Theory, Universidad de Buenos Aires

Spec., Creative Writing, Casa de Letras