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Blood Novels: Gender, Caste, and Race in Spanish Realism

October 12, 2023 at 6:00 pm until 8:00 pm

Presenter: Julia Chang, Assistant Professor of Hispanic Studies at Cornell University, will be joining us to discuss her award-winning book, Blood Novels: Gender, Caste, and Race in Spanish Realism (U Toronto P, 2022). In addition to her work on Spanish realism, Julia also works on feminism, disability studies, colonialism, and the Philippines. The poster for the talk is below.

In the late nineteenth century, Spain’s most prominent writers – Juan Valera, Leopoldo Alas, and Benito Pérez Galdós – made blood a crucial feature of their fiction. In her talk, Julia Chang examines the cultural and literary significance of blood, unsettling the dominant assumption of the period that blood no longer played a decisive role in social hierarchies. By examining fictional works through the rubric of “blood novels,” this talk identifies a shared fascination with blood that probes the limits of realism through blood’s dual nature of matter and metaphor. Situating the literature within broader cultural and theoretical debates, the talk attends to the aesthetic contours of material blood and in particular how bleeding is inflected by gender, caste, and race. Critically engaging with feminist theory, theories of race and whiteness, literary criticism, and medical literature, this innovative study makes a case for treating blood as a critical analytic tool that not only sheds new light on Spanish realism but, more broadly, challenges our understanding of gendered and racialized embodiment in Spain.