Report on Postgraduate Travel Grant 2016: Lourdes Parra Lazcano (University of Leeds)

By Maria Montt Strabucchi • blog • 26 Jun 2018

WISPS POSTGRADUATE TRAVEL GRANT

REPORT BY LOURDES PARRA LAZCANO

November 2016

My name is Lourdes Parra Lazcano and I am a PhD Candidate in Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies at the University of Leeds.

My PhD thesis explores travel literature by Mexican women writers from 1892 to 2012. I have analysed the works of Laura Méndez de Cuenca, Elena Garro, Rosario Castellanos, María Luisa Puga, Esther Seligson and Myriam Moscona. These writers are best known for their poems, novels and short stories, but they also are travellers who share their ideas about the UK, Europe, Israel, Kenya and the US. Following this, I wanted to show how these women writers contested ideas of their nation from transcultural and feminist approaches. I have recently submitted my thesis, and my viva examination will take place in a few weeks.

In November 2016, I had the opportunity to present a paper at the WISPS annual conference at the University of Stirling. It was my first visit to Scotland and to a WISPS conference. My paper studied the significance of animals in Elena Garro’s short stories. I got this idea from a footnote that I had used in my thesis; this footnote was so appealing to me that I ended up reading Garro’s whole collection of short stories. I wanted to present a paper about it and was lucky enough to have a chance to do so at WISPS. In my paper I argued that the narrative voice of the girl helped to create a bridge between humans and animals. I am now publishing the outcome of that presentation.

During this conference, I learnt the significance of introducing your author in a contextualised framework since not everyone is familiar with your author. I was very excited to share this experience and get to know other colleges from different Hispanic departments from all over the UK and beyond. This experience encouraged me to become an active helper at the WISPS conference the following year at the University of Leeds. It was great to see new PGRs presenting their projects in a warm atmosphere.

Looking back at my files, I have 46 versions of the WISPS poster for the Leeds conference. I remember when I saw Belén Gache’s image for first time, when I edited the background and, finally, when I added the WISPS letters as if they were musical notes. Although it was not the first poster that I had designed, I think this has been the one in which I had put in all my enthusiasm to make it appealing, and Dr Thea Pitman was a great support for that. Belén was very kind in allowing us to use her image and I am very happy that in the end this became the WISPS logo.

I am grateful to the committee members of this organisation for encouraging discussions about women and their art. Movements like #Niunamenos remind us academics that there are gendered issues that require all our attention and creativity to bring them to our forums; if not to solve them, then at least to widely discuss them.

If you would like more information on my research, please go to my academic profile: https://www.leeds.ac.uk/arts/profile/20043/1635/lourdes__parra_

See you at the next WISPS conference!

 

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