Adriana Méndez Rodenas

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Adriana Mendez
Professor Emeritus

A professor in the Department of Spanish & Portuguese at the University of Iowa, Adriana Méndez Rodenas specializes in nineteenth and twentieth century Latin American literature. She has published amply in the area of Caribbean literature and culture, including an edition of Mercedes Santa Cruz y Montalvo's Viaje a la Habana (1844). Her research and teaching interests include travel writing, transatlantic studies, and gender.  A book supported by an NEH Fellowship for University Teachers (2002-2003), Transatlantic Travels in Nineteenth-Century Latin America: European Women Pilgrims, is forthcoming from the Latin American Theory and Literature Series of Bucknell University Press.  She edited Review #84—Literature and the Arts of the Americas, dedicated to “Women Travelers in Latin America,” an issue celebrating the lost archive of female travel writing to the Americas both in academic essay and fiction.

She spent academic year 2008-2009 in Sweden as the Fulbright Distinguished Chair in American Studies in the Department of English at Uppsala University.  In this medieval town, she researched the American travelogues of Swedish novelist and early feminist Fredrika Bremer, a project which continues as The Face of the Country: Fredrika Bremer's Transamerican Sketches, 1850-1851.

Her current research project, From Paradise to Diaspora: Natural History in the Americas, an ecological study centered on the Caribbean and the Amazon, and crossing literary genres and periods, was awarded a Research Fellowship from the Notre Dame Institute of Advanced Study in Spring 2012. 

In the area of Latino/a studies, her essays on Cuban-American literature have appeared in two interdisciplinary anthologies: Negotiating Identities in Art and Literature: Cuban Americans and American Culture (2009) and Cuba—Idea of a Nation Displaced (2007).

Recently, she served as faculty representative for two inaugural trips to Cuba sponsored by Iowa Voyagers for the UI Alumni Association.  It was a pleasure to tour her native island with fellow travelers and Iowans.

18th and 19th Century Colloquium




Gender and Nationalism in Colonial Cuba

1) Gender and Nationalism in Colonial Cuba-The Travels of Santa Cruz y Montalvo, condesa de Merlin. Vanderbilt U Press, 1998. A study of a foundational figure in Spanish American Romanticism who straddled two cultures, Cuba and France, this study centers on Merlin's contribution to the discourse of Cuban nationalism.

Cuba en su imagen

2) Cuba en su imagen-Historia e identidad en la literatura cubana. Madrid: Verbum, 2002. A collection of essays on 19th and 20th century Cuban literature.

La Comtesse Merlin

3) La Comtesse Merlin, Les esclaves dans les colonies espagnoles. Paris: Éditions l'Harmattan, 2005. An edition of Santa Cruz y Montalvo's writings on the slavery debate in Cuba.

Viaje A La Habana

4) Mercedes Merlin, Viaje a la Habana. StockCero Ediciones: 2009. A critical edition of a classic of Caribbean travel writing, based on the 1844 Madrid original located at the University of Iowa library.

 Un siglo de literatura

Articles in Books:

5) "En dos tiempos: El viaje de Fredrika Bremer como alegoría de la nación." Cuba: Un siglo de literatura (1902-2002). Edited by Anke Birkenmaier and Roberto González Echevarría. Madrid: Editorial Colibrí, 2004. A study of Fredrika Bremer's 1851 sketchbook of Cuban landscape, flora and fauna.

Cuba Idea of a Nation Displaced

6) "Identity and Diaspora: Cuban Culture at the Cross-roads." Cuba-Idea of a Nation Displaced. Edited by Andrea O'Reilly Herrera. Albany: SUNY Press: 2007. An essay comparing Cuban American writers from the one-and-a-half generation with Cuban writers of the 1980s as they grapple with the debate over identity and diaspora.

Cuban-American Literature and Art

7) "Engendering the Nation: The Mother/Daughter Plot in Cuban American Fiction." Cuban American Literature and Art--Negotiating Identities. Edited by Isabel Alvarez Borland and Lynnette M.F. Bosch. Albany: SUNY Press, 2009. Based on Marianne Hirsch's classic study of The Mother-Daughter Plot, this essay traces female genealogies in Ana Menéndez and Cristina García's fiction.

Retomando la palabra

8) "El archivo perdido: las memorias de Mercedes Merlin y el arte la fuga." Retomando la palabra. Las pioneras del XIX en diálogo con la crítica contemporánea. Edited by Claire Emilie Martin and María Nelly Goswitz. Madrid: Editorial Iberoamericana/Vervuert, 2012. An essay recuperating a lost text in Caribbean literature, Mercedes Merlin's "L' évasion." Tucked within her longer Les loisirs d'une femme du monde, a biography of famous opera singer Maria Malinbran, this autobiographical sketch dramatizes the tensions between gender, slavery, and colonialism.

Voyageurs francais dans les Ameriques

9) "Sensibilidad romántica, nacionalismo incipiente: el viaje iniciático de Mercedes Merlin." Voyageurs français dans les Amériques, edited by Ernesto Mächler Tobar. Amiens: Indigo Press/Université de Picardie Jules Verne, 2012. A collection of papers read at the conference on French travelers to the Americas in Amiens, this essay studies Merlin's voyage from Paris to Havana as part of a broader tradition of transatlantic travel.

Cuban-People, Culture, History

10) "Sab," "Nineteenth-Century Costumbrismo," "Juan Francisco Manzano." In CubaPeople, Culture, History, edited by Alan West Durán. New York: Gale, Cengage Learning, 2012. Three introductory essays on nineteenth-century Cuban classics.

Nineteenth-Century Costumbrismo

11) Transatlantic Travels in Nineteenth-Century Latin America: European Women Pilgrims, Bucknell University Press

Articles in Press:

1. "Placer y prohibición de la escritura en el epistolario amoroso de la Comtesse Merlin." Conference proceedings, XXXV Congreso del Instituto de Literatura Iberoamericana, Université de Poitiers, France.

2. "Mapping the Unknown: European Women Travelers in Humboldt's New World." Conference proceedings, "Alexander von Humboldt: From the Americas to the Cosmos." CUNY Graduate Center, New York

Edited journals:

Review #84—Literature and Arts of the Americas.  Dedicated to “Women Travelers in Latin America,” this issue gathers academic essays and creative writing to show the variety and vibrancy of female-authored traveling fictions.