BERNARDO ATXAGA CHAIR 2015
The Graduate Center, CUNY
Dormant Voices: Narration and Transgression in the Current Basque Literature (1975-2010)
Based on her experience and background as a writer in the Basque language, Arantxa Urretabizkaia will study the obsessions and themes that have marked the Basque literary life in recent decades. Her analysis will begin paying attention to the importance of the Basque cultural renaissance in the last years of Franco’s dictatorship and reflect on the milestones that marked the decades of the 60s and 70s, decades in which political and cultural heterodoxy marked the creations of Basque artists . These were years in which new voices and poetics, like those of the writers of the generation of Urretabizkaia, demanded new ways of saying and describing themselves in narrative proposals that entirely renewed the scene. The commitment of the autobiographical novels or the silenced claim of a domestic historical memory was successfully translated into literary works written by women, who undid well-known myths and taboos, such as the Basque matriarchy and the role assigned to women by the Basque nationalism .
She is the most refreshing and acclaimed contemporary writer of the Basque scene. Linked to the cultural heterodoxy of the 60s in editorial platforms as Lur, and after a poetic beginning that demanded a new code, her first novel, Zergatik Panpox, was hailed by Basque critics for its lyrical poetics and its proximity to the feminism of the difference. Located in the troubled Basque political transition, the novel gave voice to that other conflict, the domestic one, exemplified in the first female main character of the Basque novel. And it is precisely in the voices that are silenced and denied the Basque conflict, in women, where she investigates in her novel The Red Notebook (1998), that has been translated into English, German, Russian and Italian, in which the author delves into the binomial taboo "maternity- political commitment”." The role of Basque women in both traditional nationalism and the left-wing nationalism, that is, being mothers and carriers of language and national patriotism, is subverted in a novel that adopts the autobiographical writing modes. Later came novels like The Three Marias (2012), which delves into the stereotypes about old age and women, and her latest novel, Black and White Photographs (2014), an excellent autobiographical account of the childhood years of the author during the dark years of Francoism.
Bernardo Atxaga Chair
The main objective of this chair, created by the Etxepare Basque Institute, is to promote research into and the study of the Basque language and literature. Bernardo Atxaga himself inaugurated it in 2011, at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.The Bernardo Atxaga Chair offers a doctoral academic programme in Basque culture and annually brings visiting professors to New York.