A voice of one’s own: Soundscapes of gender in contemporary Spanish audiovisual cultures – new research project

The Best 39 LGBT Netflix Shows to Watch | Once Upon A Journey
Saray (Alba Flores) and Rizos (Berta Vazquez) in Vis a Vis / Locked Up (proposed case study for my new project)

As regular readers will know, my book Subversive Spanish Cinema: The Politics of Performance was published earlier this year. Although the time I currently have available for research is limited, I am still keen to continue researching and writing about Spanish audiovisual cultures.

At present, I have a postdoc application under consideration with the British Academy. The proposed project is entitled A Voice Of One’s Own: Soundscapes of Gender in Contemporary Spanish Audiovisual Cultures. I am hopeful that I will pursue this research project even if unsuccessful in my funding bid.

The premise of the project is to explore intersections of gender and sound in contemporary Spanish audiovisual cultures. I use the term ‘audiovisual cultures’ as I intend to explore cinema and television as well as to emphasise the aural dimension of visual cultures. The inspiration for this project lies, in part, with recent socio-political movements (such as #MeToo and #MasMujeres) which highlight the endemic imbalances, biases and abuses in audiovisual production industries. Driving these movements is an impulse to speak out and vocally condemn the subjugation of women within such contexts. In this way, these phenomena articulate modes of femininity outwith assumptions of conformity and silence that have typified cultural production designated as postfeminist.

Invisibles, un relato de mujeres invisibilizadas que pasean por Cáceres
The principal characters of Gracia Querejeta’s 2020 film Invisibles (another proposed case study for the project).

My project will analyse interactions amongst gender, sound and space in Spanish audiovisual content authored principally by women. At this early stage of research, my hypothesis is that these interactions simultaneously denounce pervasive gender inequalities and forge innovative understandings of gender identity within contemporary Western societies, both of which are vital as we negotiate post-Covid shifts in gendered divisions of professional and domestic labour. The Spanish case is of particular interest in these contexts given the extent to which gender justice has permeated Spanish consciousness in the aftermath of the 2007-8 economic Crisis (Martínez Jímenez).

A key element of this project is my intention to interview female audiovisual creators about their works as well as their experiences working in audiovisual production industries. One of my aims is to interrogate how female-authored audiovisual portraits of female subjectivities conform to and/or undermine patriarchal understandings of female identity. Simultaneously highlighting the works and amplifying the voices of female filmmakers, documentarists, screenwriters and producers, I am particularly interested in how sound becomes a privileged site for the formulation of alternative female subjectivities outwith male-dominated frameworks such as patriarchy, heteronormativity and white Western hegemony.

Gure Hormek - Txintxua Films
Image from documentary Gure Hormek / Our Walls by Basque duo María Elorza and Maider Férnandez (another proposed case study for the project).

Proposed case studies include:

feature films:

* El patio de mi cárcel/My Prison Yard (Belén Macías, 2008),
* Todos están muertos/They Are All Dead (Beatriz Sanchis, 2014),
* Estiu 1993/Summer 1993 (Carla Simón, 2017),
* Brava/Brave (Roser Aguilar, 2017).
* Invisibles/Invisible (Gracia Querejeta, 2020).

documentaries:

* Madre/Mother (Mabel Lozano, 2012),
* Manzanas, pollos y quimeras/Apples, Chickens and Chimeras (Inés París, 2013),
* Gure Hormek/Our Walls
(María Elorza, Maider Férnandez, 2016).

and television series:

* Las chicas del cable/Cable Girls (Netflix/Bambú Producciones, 2017-2020),
* Vis a vis/Locked Up (Globomedia/Fox Networks Group España, 2015-2019).

I have selected these works for two reasons: 1) their production principally by women creators and 2) their depictions of gender, sound and space on screen which respond to and/or critique stereotypical conceptualisations of women, femininity and female subjectivities as well as proposing alternative configurations of these categories. Taking fiction film, documentary and television together while remaining sensitive to their distinct production contexts, my study brings to fruition connections between and amongst these distinct audiovisual formats and contends that it is precisely through these interconnections that innovative understandings of female subjectivities emerge.

I am hoping to blog about this project as I move forward with it and would love to hear what people think of it and my ideas as I share them here!

Pleibericos book launch

On Thursday 10th December 2020, I participated in the 6th Pleibéricos event. Pleibéricos is a virtual platform created by Esther Gimeno Ugalde (University of Vienna) and Santiago Fouz Hernández (Durham University) as a means of promoting recently published works in the fields of Iberian Studies. It was an honour to take part in the event which also featured Steven Marsh, José Luis Sánchez Noriega, Tom Whittaker and Sarah Thomas, as well as Barbara Zecchi as guest moderator.

I’ve embedded the YouTube video of the event here:

Pleibéricos 6 (10 diciembre 2020) cine español

And here is a transcript of my presentation:

Presentación

Antes de empezar quiero agradecer a Santi y a Esther, no solo por invitarme a participar en este evento, que es un placer enorme, pero también por organizar esta serie de eventos que he seguido con mucho interés.

Para empezar, me gustaría apuntar que la idea de enfocarme en el concepto de performance viene de hecho de mis estudios doctorales y es verdad que la performance es un tema emergente en el campo de estudios hispánicos, sobre todo en cuanto al cine español. Si os interesa, se puede ver el libro editado de Tom Whittaker, Dean Allbritton y Alejandro Melero que también trata de este tema.

En esta presentación, voy a mantener la palabra performance en inglés y voy a explicar ahora por qué. Performance quiere decir la actuación en castellano, pero la palabra inglesa también implica otros significados. En el libro analizo tres aspectos distintos del concepto de performance:

En primer lugar, las películas que estudio incluyen performance a nivel narrativo: es decir tienen personajes que son performers – que cantan, bailan o actúan – de forma profesional o en ámbitos más informales o incluyen secuencias de performance dentro de la acción narrativa.

En segundo lugar, está el trabajo que hacen los actores dentro de la película: la manera en la que actúan, como usan el cuerpo físico, la cara, las expresiones etc.

En tercer lugar, y esto es una de las ideas claves de mi libro, se ve que los directores españoles contemporáneos utilizan el concepto de performance como un concepto ideológico y una estrategia política y voy a hablar más de esta idea ahora.

En el libro, centro en el cine de la España democrática. Lo que argumento es que la performance se usa como herramienta política en el cine español actual y que esta estrategia viene de la época franquista. En las obras de directores como Luis García Berlanga y Juan Antonio Bardem, de que hablo en la introducción, la performance es una forma de ocultar sus ideas políticas que obviamente van en contra del régimen franquista.

No quiero decir con esto que todo tiene que ver con el franquismo en el contexto contemporáneo, sino que me interesa la manera en la que los directores del cine español actual adaptan esta estrategia.

Relacionado a esto, otra idea clave del libro es que los performers a veces se convierten en agentes subversivos. Un ejemplo perfecto es los casos de Willy Toledo y los Títeres desde abajo que han tenido problemas legales con el contenido de sus obras en plena democracia.

Esto demuestra una tercera idea clave del libro: que la cultura es un enfoque político tanto en la democracia que en la dictadura.

Finalmente, para terminar esta presentación, quiero destacar la estructura del libro para daros una idea de cómo organizo el contenido. Tengo cuatro capítulos principales que se organiza temáticamente.

En el primer capítulo, hablo de la performance y el pasado y como, a veces, lo que hace el cine es simular el pasado.

En el segundo capítulo, analizo la performance e identidades que tiene que ver con la performatividad y las teorías del género.

En el tercer capítulo, estudio el concepto de metaperformance y unas películas que juegan con la idea de la performance dentro de la acción narrativa.

Y finalmente, en el cuarto capítulo, examino la performance como catarsis y terapia.

Estoy dispuesta de hablar más sobre cualquiera de estos temas si hay preguntas. Muchas gracias.

Pregunta

Muchas gracias, Santi por tu pregunta interesante.

Para empezar, quiero apuntar que la performance como catarsis y terapia no es únicamente una experiencia positiva o afirmativa; también tiene un lado difícil o incluso, en algunos casos, peligroso.

Analizo tres películas en este capítulo: la que has mencionado – Ocaña; Hable con ella de Pedro Almodóvar; y Noviembre de Achero Mañas.

En estas tres películas, la performance funciona como una especie de working through y mantengo esta palabra en inglés también porque quiero citar a Cathy Caruth y los estudios de trauma. Básicamente significa un proceso de intentar entender o superar unos eventos personales y políticos, o – a veces – las dos cosas juntas.

Ocaña es un ejemplo perfecto de esta idea. Es un documental y el protagonista es un artista andaluz que migró a Barcelona después de la muerte de Franco y que forma parte importante de la cultura catalana de la Transición.

Hay una secuencia en particular que representa esta idea. Tiene lugar en un cementerio y canta Ocaña sobre Federico García Lorca y el hecho de que no se sabe dónde exactamente está su cuerpo. La canción destaca el duelo de la madre de Lorca en particular y con esto, e qsta secuencia resume perfectamente mi tesis sobre la performance como catarsis o terapia en cuanto a los traumas personales y políticos en el cine español de la época posfranquista.

THE BOOK IS OUT!

My first monograph, Subversive Spanish Cinema: The Politics of Performance, was published by Bloomsbury last month. If you are interested in purchasing it, you can check it out here: https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/search?q=subversive+spanish+cinema&Gid=1.

Monograph available for preorder!!

Just a quick post from me (after a long hiatus, I know!) to share the link for my forthcoming book, Subversive Spanish Cinema: The Politics of Performance, which is now available for preorder with Bloomsbury. If you would like to preorder it, you can click here.

 

Transnational Cinematic Childhoods

LMS I
Figure 1: The Child and the Screen (Little Miss Sunshine)

In Spring 2018, I taught an Honours course entitled Transnational Cinematic Childhoods at the University of Aberdeen. It’s been on my to-do list since then to write a blog about the course as there was a lot of interest in the course when I tweeted about it at the time. Finally getting round to writing that post now! Life has been somewhat busy in the interim, what with retraining, finishing my book & having a baby! I’m sharing some insights here but I’m happy to share more in the way of course documentation if folks are interested. Just drop me a line either in the comments below or on Twitter (@FionaFNoble).

LMS II
Figure 2: The Child before the Screen (Little Miss Sunshine)

The aims of the course were to explore the ways in which cinema constructs children and to interrogate the significance of cinematic constructions of childhood (Figures 1 and 2). The word construction is key here. Children on/in film are just that. Constructions, representations, figures. Furthermore, cinematic depictions of children and childhood are typically shaped not by children but by adults. Adults write, edit, frame and direct children onscreen (Figure 3). That said, one cannot deny the agency and presence of the child actors who perform the roles of cinematic children. Indeed, child actors are often lauded for the power of their performances and praised for their authenticity and natural presence. Caught between these tensions, cinematic children are rich sites with regard to the human race and the big questions that inform our existence.

TVS I
Figure 3: Framing Children (The Virgin Suicides)

As cinematic figures, children onscreen carry significant symbolic weight. I proposed a flexibly broad definition of the child and childhood, encompassing adolescence and even adults grappling with difficult pasts (Figures 4 and 5). The child is a figure for what we once were and what we will never be again. The child carries connotations of innocence, of hope and of regeneration. But that which is innocent is subject to corruption. The child is also a site of cultural anxiety around which preoccupations concerning gender, sexuality, life and death cluster. And it is precisely these anxieties that my course sought to explore.
The corpus of the course was, as suggested by the course title, transnational in scope. It included films from the UK, US, Spain, France and Mexico. The corpus was as follows:
  • A Story of Children and Film (Cousins, 2013)
  • Little Miss Sunshine (Dayton/Faris, 2006)
  • The Virgin Suicides (Coppola, 1999)
  • Waterlilies (Sciamma, 2007)
  • The Spirit of the Beehive (Erice, 1973)
  • Raise Ravens (Saura, 1976)
  • The Devil’s Backbone (del Toro, 2001)
  • Pan’s Labyrinth (del Toro, 2006)
  • Who Can Kill A Child? (Serrador, 1976)
  • The Others (Amenábar, 2001).

The Others
Figure 6: Locating the Child (The Others)

There was an emphasis on Hispanic cinemas due to my expertise in that field. But the course was taught to students undertaking the Film and Visual Culture MA at Aberdeen so actively sought to make transnational links across the films studied. The categorisation of films along national lines is problematic in any case given the increasingly transnational character of funding streams and channels of exhibition and distribution. Many of the films chosen reflect this complexity. For example, The Others (Figure 6) is directed by Spanish filmmaker Alejandro Amenábar but filmed in English and stars Hollywood actress Nicole Kidman who hails from Australia. Is the film Spanish? Anglophone? A Hollywood production? All of the above? With these dynamics of transnationalism in mind, my students and I sought to trace a cinematic map of children and childhoods across national borders, while remaining sensitive to local and national specificities influencing childhood and its cinematic depictions.

Waterlilies I
Figure 7: Orienting the Child (Waterlilies)

Course readings were similarly diverse in scope, ranging from nationally specific readings of the films that pay particular attention to their sociohistorical production contexts to theoretical takes on the significance of cinematic children and childhoods. They included, as examples, Karen Lury’s The Child in Film: Tears, Fears and Fairytales, Emma Wilson’s Cinema’s Missing Children and Kathryn Bond Stockton’s The Queer Child; Or Growing Sideways in the Twentieth Century. I chose readings that complemented the films in question and that encouraged the students to think through the significance of cinematic children and childhoods in diverse ways (Figure 7).
The course was organised around five key themes with each theme spanning two weeks and encompassing two films as case studies:
  1. Framing Childhood (A Story of Children and Film / Little Miss Sunshine)
  2. Boundaries and Borders (The Virgin Suicides / Waterlilies)
  3. Childhood as Transition (The Spirit of the Beehive / Raise Ravens)
  4. Transnational Childhood (The Devil’s Backbone / Pan’s Labyrinth)
  5. Death and the Child (Who Can Kill A Child? / The Others).
Figure 8: Dead, Violent, Ghostly and Killer Kids (Pan’s Labyrinth, The Devil’s Backbone, Who Can Kill A Child?)
Across these themes, we asked questions of cinematic illustrations of children and childhood. We analysed child sexuality, the applications and implications of gender norms in relation to the child and childhood, violent children and child ghosts (Figure 8). We considered children as liminal, in transition, queer.
Because I was on an hourly paid fixed term contract while teaching this module and live a considerable distance from campus, I requested that my lecture and two hour seminar for the course be scheduled back-to-back. The only timeslot they could give me for this was 1-4pm on a Friday afternoon. I was convinced my students would be completely unimpressed at this but I was pleasantly surprised. The group of students who opted to take my course were the most dynamic, engaged and enthusiastic bunch of individuals I’ve had the pleasure of teaching in the 10 years I taught at university level. I always had to call the discussions to a close at 3:55pm as they had so much to say!! I think I was fortunate to have such a great group of students but I’ll also take some of the credit for compiling a course that inspired interest, debate and even controversy (we’ll skip over the one student who complained about the overtly feminist course content and that I was gender biased against him …).
Overall, this is undoubtedly the most successful course I’ve designed and taught. The students raved about it (for the most part) and wanted to know if I’d be back teaching them again the following year. It’s just a shame those in charge of hiring at the university have (thus far) not seen recruiting myself to the department as an option. I’ve not taught at university level since I delivered this course and it’s unlikely I’ll have the opportunity in the near future. But I want to share the details of this module in the meantime as its work I’m particularly proud of and would love to see it engaged with by others.

Update – January 2019

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything on here so I thought I’d write a little update blog on what I’ve been up to and why the blog has been somewhat neglected of late.

The end of January marks four years since I submitted my PhD thesis at the University of Aberdeen. In some ways it feels like just yesterday. In others, it feels like a long time ago. In the four years since I submitted, I have achieved a lot. I was awarded a fixed-term teaching contract at Durham University. I had such a fab time there. I love the north-east of England and really enjoyed working in the Hispanic Studies department there. My colleagues across the School of Modern Languages and Cultures were warm and welcoming. The students were engaged and motivated. And I got the opportunity to teach research-led sections across a variety of team-taught modules. In fact, my former colleague and PhD examiner Professor Santiago Fouz-Hernández contacted me earlier this evening to let me know that he asked his dissertation students why they had chosen to work on Spanish cinema and that they said they’d been inspired by my classes when they were in first year. Since my time in Durham, I became a mum and had a spell of maternity leave (though admittedly kept working on academic stuff during this time – work on my book, peer reviews, book reviews etc.). I worked part-time outwith academia for a while after my maternity leave before taking up a fixed-term contract as Associate Teaching Fellow in Film and Visual Culture at the University of Aberdeen. I was lucky to be asked to teach an Honours module on the topic of childhood in cinema and I had an absolute blast designing and delivering a course entitled Transnational Cinematic Childhoods. (I might well do a post on this at some point as I had a lot of interest in my syllabus on Twitter… Watch this space!!).

Last Spring, while working part-time as a waitress, teaching part-time on an hourly-paid contract, trying to keep my research going plus being a mum, I decided I couldn’t keep juggling all of the things. I applied for the PGDE in Secondary Education (French-Spanish) at Aberdeen and was offered a place. I quit my waitressing job. I’m still plugging away (admittedly, very slowly!) with my book manuscript though my deadline has now passed. I’m still applying for academic jobs. And I am almost halfway through my PGDE. Life is pretty hectic and I’ve just not had much time to dedicate to research-related activities and hence to post on the blog. One of my goals for 2019 is to resume my blog writing so I am going to try and post a bit more regularly in the coming months. We’ll see how this pans out …

Editing a Special Journal Issue – Chat with Liz Harvey-Kattou

In June 2018, my friend Dr Liz Harvey-Kattou (@lizharvey99), a lecturer in Hispanic Culture at the University of Westminster, tweeted about the publication of a special issue of Studies in Spanish and Latin American Cinemas on the topic of Central American Cinema, edited by herself and Amanda Alfaro, (a PhD student from Costa Rica). When I saw her tweet, I messaged Liz to ask about her experience of editing the journal issue. I was intrigued to know more about the whole process, not having embarked on such a project myself in my academic career to date. Liz replied with really interesting and helpful advice about the venture. We decided to have a Skype session to talk about it in more detail as I felt that Liz’s recent experience and excellent insights would make a very useful blog post for anyone interested in pursuing such a task. I have edited our conversation for clarity.

 

Liz, firstly, thanks for agreeing to chat with me about this! Your insights will be valued, I’m sure. First off, what gave you and Amanda the idea for the special issue? Why did you think it was important there be a publication dedicated to the topic of Central American Cinema in the 21st century?

No problem, I’m happy to share my experience! My PhD dealt with national identity in Central American literature and cinema and there is currently not much scholarship on this topic. In fact, Amanda and I are the only two people looking solely at Central American cinema in the UK! Though there are a number of individuals in Costa Rica studying this topic too. We became aware of an emerging interest in Central American cinema more broadly, with Guatamalan film Ixcanul winning a host of awards in 2015, a couple of Central American films appearing on Netflix for the first time and a growing awareness in the cinematic production of various Central American nations on film festival circuits. We felt well-placed to complete this project given the centrality of the framework of Central American cinema to our work, although it was not an ideal time to embark on such a venture: I had just finished my PhD and was precariously employed at that point and Amanda was in the process of undertaking her PhD.

 

Sounds like you both invested a lot of time and effort into the process! Why did you opt for an edited special journal issue rather than another format, an edited book for example?

There were two main reasons for this: 1) we wanted to get the issue out quickly and knew the book process would take a bit longer; and 2) we wanted to make use of the journal’s infrastructure in relation to peer review, for example. Studies in Spanish and Latin American Cinemas was our number one choice due to its significance for the field.

 

That makes sense! How did you approach pitching the idea to Studies in Spanish and Latin American Cinemas? What factors influenced this choice? Was there a formula/template to follow for pitching the issue or did you have a bit of freedom as to how you did this?

Our first choice was Studies in Spanish and Latin American Cinema due to its significance for the field of Hispanic visual culture. They had previously featured a special issue on Cuban cinema and it seemed like a good fit for our project. Our experience of the process was somewhat informal. We initially contacted the editors to establish whether they might be interested in receiving a proposal for a special issue on the topic. We then sent the proposed Call for Papers, which in the end formed the basis for our jointly-written introduction to the journal issue, to the editor. Her response was positive and we worked out a timeline with her.

 

You mentioned the Call for Papers there. How did you go about soliciting articles for the issue? How did this process pan out? Were there any particular hurdles at this stage? What would you do differently, if pursuing a similar project in the future?

We wrote the Call for Papers and distributed it widely. We were particularly keen for scholars based in the US and Central America to contribute. We asked for the submission of a 300-word abstract initially and were completely shocked at the number of submissions (around 24 in total)! We realised, with hindsight, that we should have made the Call for Papers more specific. We had deliberately left it as open as possible because we weren’t sure how much interest there would be! We had an array of really interesting proposals on documentary filmmaking, for example, but decided to focus on feature-length productions as that is where our interest lies.

In terms of narrowing down the submissions, we thought about how the different proposed articles would fit together. We were keen to have a film from every country in Central America though that ultimately wasn’t feasible. In the end, we had an article with an overview of the field, one on distribution, film festivals and the effect of these elements on the aesthetics of filmmaking and the remainder of the articles focused on specific films from various regions. We looked for a coherent narrative across the different contributions when trying to narrow it down. There were so many interesting proposals we had to reject that just did not fit, for example one on sports figures in Central American film. But it just didn’t work well with the other contributions and so we had to reject it. That bit was tough!

 

In addition to narrowing down the contributions, what else were you responsible for as editor? How would you describe your role as journal issue editor? How did you divide the labour between yourself and your fellow editor?

One of my main tasks as editor was translating reviews into Spanish for the Spanish contributors. I also had responsibility for editing the language used in the articles while Amanda did a lot of the communications. Amanda and I have known each other for some time as we both worked with the same supervisor at UCL. We were able to work well together because of this. We both read all of the articles numerous times and were very familiar with them by the end of the process. In effect, most things were done twice by both of us! It was great working with someone else on this as I think I would have questioned myself a lot if I had embarked on such a project on my own. It was really helpful having someone to check stuff over, especially when a lot was done in Spanish. We would often meet up and read the articles together, going over them with fine tooth comb. We also wrote the introduction together. It was very much a joint venture!

 

I’m a real fan of collaborative projects for this very reason! What about the peer review process? What was that like? Would you do anything differently if embarking on a similar project in the future?

Prior to peer review, we collected in the final articles. The peer review was organised by the journal, rather than by us as editors. It was a long process and a few of the articles had to go through double peer review, in the end. What we should have done was an initial informal peer review ourselves, swapping the various articles amongst the contributors, for example. Had we done so, we would have realised that there were some incongruities in terms of style, in part due to the translation of some of the articles from Spanish into English, and in terms of the preferences of the journal’s editorial board, for aesthetic analysis over historical overviews for example. This is definitely something we learned from the process!

 

What was the timeframe of the whole process?

It took about 2 years in total. It should have actually been three months short of that. I think that’s pretty good going!

 

I’ll say! That’s amazing. What did you most enjoy about the process?

For me, the most enjoyable thing was getting the actual journal out. That was really exciting! I also enjoyed the networking, making new contacts and getting to know people’s work. We were aware of some of the contributors and their work prior to this but there were others who were new to us, particularly ECRs and people moving into the field.

 

And what did you least enjoy?

The peer review process – especially being the go-between between the contributors and the journal. You feel like you’re on the side of the contributor and it was awful having to pass on negative feedback as you don’t want to knock someone’s confidence. There was also a lot of going back and forth in some cases which involved a lot of work for us as editors. It was all worth it in the end though!

 

Any final points of advice for anyone wishing to pursue a similar project?

I guess, this sort of thing that we are doing now with the chat and blog post! Try and talk to people who have done this and can give advice – especially at a similar career stage and/or who’ve done it recently.

 

Thanks, Liz! It has been so great to chat about this process with you and I do hope this blog is useful to anyone interested in pursuing such an editing project. Your experience and advice should certainly prove valuable!

Bullet Journalling For Beginners

Weekly planner spread

If you follow me on Twitter you’ll perhaps already know that I’ve abandoned a typical planner this year in favour of a Bullet Journal. For those unfamiliar with the concept, the Bullet Journal offers a flexible and creative means with which to plan, track and organise your life. I’ve been aware of the Bullet Journal for a while now and though the format appealed I felt somewhat intimidated by the creativity required. But when shopping for a 2018 planner I couldn’t find one that seemed fit for my needs. I am currently spinning a lot of different plates so to speak and I wanted a planner that would allow flexibility first and foremost. The Bullet Journal seemed the best option.

July Monthly Spread

When I originally drafted this post, I was one week into it. Somehow, 6 months have now passed! And I am a total #bujo convert! I’ve been charting my progress via Twitter: check out my feed if you want to follow what I’m doing there (I’ve been using the hashtags #bulletjournal #bujo #bujobeginner – though I’ve dropped the latter one of late as it feels a bit disingenuous now that it’s been 6 months!). I’ve found it really useful and not half as time-consuming as I expected.

June Monthly Spread

I mostly work with monthly and weekly planning spreads. I usually vary the monthly layout based on templates I find on Pinterest. I’ve tended not to experiment too much with my weekly planner format. If I find something I like and that’s functional, I tend not to tweak it too much. Again, I usually scan Pinterest for ideas though all that seems to achieve is me feeling envious at my lack of creativity & artistic ability!

Word Count Tracker

Daily Writing Tracker

I’ve also been using the Bullet Journal to track my writing progress as I work towards the completion and submission of my book manuscript. I’ve come up with writing logs and word trackers which allow me to see how productive I’m being. Taking note of how much I can achieve in a short time as well as noting when I actually get time to write is proving enormously helpful in terms of understanding my work habits within my current routine.

I am absolutely loving the Bullet Journal and plan to proceed with this for the foreseeable. It has most definitely aided my productivity and there is something very therapeutic in the process of creating new spreads. What about you? Do you #bujo? Do you have questions about bullet journalling? Drop me a line!

WISPS 2017: Virtual Shut Up and Writes

Today (Saturday 11th November 2017), I presented virtually on the phenomenon of virtual shut up and writes as part of a roundtable on Digital (R)evolutions in Academic Writing. I was honoured to be asked to participate in this panel by Niamh Thornton (you’ll find her on Twitter at @enortee) and delighted when she accepted my suggestion that I present something virtually. If you’re interested in viewing my presentation, it’s on YouTube and I’ve embedded it here:

 

Violence and Silence: On the Catalan Referendum

I’m currently lying in bed catching up on Twitter and I felt moved to write on the horrific images emerging from Catalonia during and following today’s so-called illegal referendum. Barcelona first stole my heart back in 2005 when I took a weekend trip there from my temporary Spanish home in Alicante. I then lived and worked south of the Catalan capital, in the spectacular Sitges, for a year after completing my undergraduate degree. I am shocked, sickened and saddened at the displays of police brutality in the face of a population seeking to exercise nothing more than their right to a democratic vote on the matter of independence. It is just a short time ago that similarly violent images emerged from the city of Barcelona in August’s terror attacks on Las Ramblas. However, the perpetrators are not evil Islamic terrorists, posited as radical outsiders who threaten state coherence and unity, in this instance. Rather, it is the state itself behind such aggression.

For Hispanists and those familiar with recent Spanish history, this violent repression recalls the all-too-recent state-sponsored suppression enacted by Francoism. To this date an unknown number of individuals, murdered at the hands of the Francoist state, lie in unmarked mass graves, their remains never afforded a proper burial, their relatives never permitted a fitting memorial or mourning process. Secrets of violent suppression under Franco remain unspoken, perpetrators have not been brought to justice more than 40 years since the death of Franco and with him Francoism. But the spectre of his legacy lives on. I cannot help but think that to respond in this unnecessarily heavy-handed (to put it mildly) manner undermines the claim that this is an illegal referendum. Two illegal wrongs do not make a right.

Just the other day I was putting the finishing touches to my analysis of the silent Spanish film Blancanieves (2012). The film is a case study in the first chapter of my forthcoming monograph on the interrelations of performance and politics in contemporary Spanish cinema. Directed by Basque filmmaker Pablo Berger, the film tells the tale of Snow White but with a difference: the story has been transposed to 1920s Spain and Snow White is a kickass female bullfighter. Oh and the film is both black and white and silent. I read this formal silencing as a political gesture, one that underscores the extent to which certain voices, namely those that do not conform, suffer from a violent silencing and suppression. I made reference in my conclusion to the current events in Catalonia. Tomorrow I will rewrite this section with reference to today’s horrific developments.

Memory is short. History repeats. Fascism once again rears its ugly head not just in Spain but across Europe and beyond. I fear the events of today will have caused irreperable fissures between the people of Catalonia and the Spanish state. My solidarity is with the innocent bystanders who sought only to cast their votes, to have their say in a supposedly democratic society. Barcelona, you have my heart.