Jan. 25, 2010
Lara Walker, visiting assistant professor of modern languages at Morningside College, participated in an ongoing project called Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage by preparing an early 20th-century text for its recent re-publication.
Based at the University of Houston, where Walker is completing her doctorate, Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage is an effort to find, preserve and make available the writings of U.S. Hispanics from before 1960. The project has compiled thousands of records of books and pamphlets produced by Latinos in the United States.
“It seems it’s been understood that Latino literature is kind of a new phenomenon from the post-civil rights era, yet there is a whole history of Latino writers in the U.S. who have written and published for centuries,” Walker said. “So this project is really opening up that field for Latino, American and Hispanic literatures.”
For her dissertation, Walker examined the four books written by Luisa Capetillo (1879-1921), a Puerto Rican feminist, anarchist and labor leader who tried to bring about social change for women and the working class.
Capetillo’s last book, titled “Influencias de las Ideas Modernas” in Spanish and “Absolute Equality: An Early Feminist Perspective” now in English, was written mostly while Capetillo was living in the United States working as a labor activist in the cigar-making factories and promoting women’s rights in Tampa and New York. It was originally published in Spanish in 1916 and was never published again until now.
Walker translated the manuscript for bilingual publication and wrote an introduction that puts Capetilllo’s work and writing into a historical, cultural and literary context. To do this, she conducted research regarding Capetillo’s writing, influences and linguistic regionalisms and also the literary, political and historical references in the work. The bilingual book with introduction was recently published by Arte Público Press at the University of Houston.
Walker joined the faculty at Morningside College in the fall of 2009 after serving as a visiting assistant professor of Spanish at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa. She previously was a faculty member at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Wash., and at Syracuse University in Syracuse, N.Y.
In addition to teaching literature and language courses in Morningside’s Spanish department, Walker also is teaching a course on U.S. Latina literature this semester for the English department. Because of her translation, she is able to use selections from “Absolute Equality: An Early Feminist Perspective” in that course.
The bilingual version of “Absolute Equality: An Early Feminist Perspective” is available through Arte Público Press or through major booksellers.