Spiderweb Poetics: Interweaving the Human in Chantal Maillard’s Tentacular Writing

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@ 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm

A faceless person’s torso with deflated breasts rests on top of a shelf over a white background. It’s made of white paper and wood.
Kiki Smith; Untitled; 1990; paper and wood; 20 x 18 x 18 inches; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Ruth Llana Fernández

Biruté Ciplijauskaité Dissertation Fellow (2023-2024)

Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Spanish & Portuguese, UW–Madison

Radical Alterities and Nonhuman Textualities: Critical Forms of Life in the Luso-Hispanic Literature

What does it mean to be human and form part of a collective humanity? How do diverse modes of (non)human existence challenge our approaches to creating such definitions? Developed through an analysis of Spanish author Chantal Maillard’s essay La compasión difícil, this talk will explore how Maillard mobilizes Donna Haraway’s “tentacular thinking” through a refashioning of the characters of Medea and Mermeros, as well as philosophical considerations of hunger and compassion. Pushing Haraway’s interspecies, non-hierarchical, and interdependent ways of existing further, I will discuss how Maillard’s work develops an alternative model of nonhuman ways of being through tentacular writing and a poetics of compassion.

Ruth Llana Fernández is a Ph.D. candidate in the Spanish and Portuguese Department at UW-Madison. She is the author of four poetry books and translator of Mei-mei Berssenbrugge’s and Muriel Rukeyser’s poetry. In 2023 her work was distinguished with UW’s Lyman S.V. Judson and Ellen Mackechnie Judson Graduate Student Award in the Creative Arts. Her dissertation examines the role that nonhuman actors, migratory experiences, as well as crip and queer existence, play in the emergence of lyrical fiction in female and queer authorship from 20th Century Spain, Brazil, and Argentina. Her research has been supported by the Chancellor’s Dissertation Fellowship (2021), the Department of Spanish and Portuguese Dissertation Write-Up Award (2019), and the Tinker Nave travel grant (2018).

*Events currently open only to 2023-24 fellows due to space concerns; please contact IRH at info@irh.wisc.edu to be added to a cancellation list for in-person events.*