My research seeks to connect rhetorical traits used in first-person accounts of real experiences from diverse historical settings in the Hispanic world, from Iberian evangelization in 16th century Japan, to abolitionism in 19th century Cuba, and anarchism during the Second Spanish Republic. My doctoral dissertation, "Martirio y testimonio en Centroamérica durante la Guerra Fría: El Salvador, Guatemala y Nicaragua (1970-1990)," examines testimonios as an essential part of the logistics of insurgent and revolutionary movements. The guiding thread is martyrdom as a discourse that presents a set of persuasive devices to transmit strong emotions like indignation and empathy. The following question summarizes my present and future research agenda: What is the correspondence between the rhetoric of these texts and the pragmatic effects that they produce in their reality?
Graduate Perspective: Damián Solano
My work has already gathered attention: I have two accepted peer-reviewed articles which build arguments developed in my dissertation. "Miguel Mármol, aspirante a mártir marxista: Testimonio y verdad en Miguel Mármol (1972), de Roque Dalton" (forthcoming in Revista Canadiense de Estudios Hispánicos) explores the analogies between the rhetoric of the Salvadorean insurgency and the Christian tradition of martyrdom. Both discourses disseminate and fuel moral truths of collectives through figures worthy of veneration because they suffer and die for their beliefs. The second article, "En el umbral del horror: Técnicas y funciones del terror en Autobiografía del esclavo de Juan Francisco Manzano" (Latin American Research Review, vol. 56, n. 1, 2021) addresses abolitionist literature in 19th century Cuba. I argue that Manzano's original manuscript displays, in contrast with other abolitionist works, a terrifying mood that manages to connect emotionally with modern non-slave readers.
An invaluable influence on this ongoing research has been the Department of Spanish and Portuguese. Coursework for the MA and PhD programs, different teaching experiences both in Bloomington and in study abroad programs, and enthusiastic conversations with professors and colleagues have contributed mightily to my career as a teacher and as a scholar. No less valuable has been the department's financial support and recognition through awards and scholarships. I could not have written most of my dissertation, for instance, without the Dissertation Year and Merle E. Simmons Research Fellowships during the last two years. I feel very grateful and fortunate to be part of this intellectual environment.