27 oct. 2010

I was a little surprised that my undergraduate students, in upper-division Spanish literature class, were unaware that Mario Vargas Llosa had won a Nobel prize. Ok. Well, that 's kind of anti-climactic. It's not like the Latin American "boom" is recent news, and to give out the prize now for something more relevant 30 years ago is kind of typical of the Swedish Academy's general cluelessness.

But not a single one of my students had heard of Roberto Bolaño, the most famous Latin American writer (in the US at least) of the last decade or so. I understand that they are Spanish majors, not Spanish literature majors, but still... that level of disengagement is disheartening. Someone asked me after class whether I had studied literature as well as Spanish. Probably because I had Boccaccio, Chaucer, and the Arabian Nights, along with Italo Calvino, in my references that day.

A Spanish major somehow has never realized that almost all of her professors are specialists in literature...