Elzbieta Sklodowska

Elzbieta Sklodowska

Director of the Summer Institute in Spain
Randolph Family Professor of Spanish
PhD, Washington University

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  • Thursday: 8:30AM-10:00AM
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  • Washington University
    CB 1077
    One Brookings Drive
    St. Louis, MO 63130-4899

Elzbieta Sklodowska's fields of interest include nineteenth- and twentieth-century Caribbean narrative; literary and cultural theory; Cuban narrative and culture; poetics and politics of memory; testimonial literature.

She has published widely on topics pertaining to Spanish American literature (60 articles or book chapters), including the following books: Testimonio hispanoamericano: historia, teoría, poética; La parodia en la nueva novela hispanoamericana (1960-85)Todo ojos, todo oídos: control e insubordinación en la novela hispanoamericana (1895-1935)Espectros y espejismos: Haití en el imaginario cubano. She has co-authored or co-edited the following books: Huellas de las literaturas hispanoamericanas (co-authored with J. Garganigo, R. de Costa, G. Sabat-Rivers, A. Luiselli, B. Heller); La presencia de la literatura latinoamericana en Polonia (co-authored with Elzbieta Milewska and Irena Rymwid-Mickiewicz); Roberto Fernández Retamar y los estudios latinoamericanos (edited with Ben Heller). Her latest book, Invento luego resisto: El Período Especial en Cuba como experiencia y metáfora (1990-2015), published by Editorial Cuarto Propio (Santiago de Chile) in 2016, explores the ways in which literature, art, and film in post-1991 Cuba reflect upon the dramatic changes experienced on the island after the collapse of the Soviet system. 

Her research and writing are closely linked to her teaching. In collaboration with Prof. Joseph Schraibman and with the support of the College of Arts and Sciences she helped develop a freshman “Focus” seminar on Cuba (2001-2017), which allowed several cohorts of students to travel to Cuba during spring break. The Graduate Student Senate acknowledged her contributions to graduate education with a Certificate of Recognition for Excellence in Mentoring award. In 2012, she was awarded Honorary Professorship in Literature from the Universidad del Norte in Asunción (Paraguay).

Sklodowska has served as chair of the Department (2003-2010) and General Co-Editor of Revista de Estudios Hispánicos (1999-2010), as well as on the Faculty Council of Arts & Sciences, the Academic Planning Committee, and the Graduate Education Task Force. More recently she was a faculty ambassador to the Universidad de Chile on behalf of the McDonnell International Scholars Academy (2010-18) and a member of the PMLA Editorial Board (2015-17). She is looking forward to her role as Director of the Madrid Spanish Language Institute, beginning in the summer of 2019.

Her current project is tentatively titled Alternative Lineages: Contemporary Cuban Women Writers and Artists. Portions of this book in progress have appeared as a chapter (“No Laughing Matter: Post-Soviet Cuba in the Orbit of Postmodern Parody”) in Postmodern Parody in Latin American Literature: The Paradox of Ideological Construction and Deconstruction edited by Helene Weldt-Basson (Palgrave 2018).

Invento luego resisto: el Período Especial en Cuba como experiencia y metáfora (1990-2015)

Invento luego resisto: el Período Especial en Cuba como experiencia y metáfora (1990-2015)

The spirit of transience and improvisation that permeated daily existence during the Special Period in Cuba in the 1990s did not lend itself to the creation and preservation of objects of enduring quality and aesthetic value. And yet, the material archive of the Special Period is surprising in its diversity, ranging from extraordinary everyday artifacts (re)created by ordinary people intuitively following the premise of the “Three Rs”—“Reduce, Reuse and Recycle”—to works of art inspired by the fundamental strategy of bricolage, from visual testimonies (cartoons, photos) of the never-ending process of rethinking, reusing and reinventing, to the process of collecting and documenting these “rustic” inventions and transplanting them from Cuban households, streets, and farms into books, catalogues, and galleries. Invento luego resisto: el Período Especial en Cuba como experiencia y metáfora (1990-2015) [I Invent, therefore I Resist: The Special Period in Cuba as Experience and Metaphor 1990-2015] analyzes some of these “survivalist” products and strategies that grew out of extreme scarcity only to gain the resonance as compelling witnesses to Cuba’s most recent history and to the resilience of Cuban people.