This week we take a moment to recognize a recent accomplishment of one of our very own faculty, Dr. Marisela Fleites-Lear.
Can you tell us about your recent accomplishment and the how the process began?
I have been doing research for a while on the underground movement of Independent Libraries in Cuba and its literary price and I presented a paper at the 2010 conference “Imagining America” that was held at the University of Washington. Out of the panel came the idea to put together a volume edited by Julie Shayne dealing with academic activism and the difficulties of doing research about sensitive issues related to Human Rights and social justice in different countries and political environments. The book Taking Risks. Feminist Activism and Research in the Americas is the result of the re-writing and re-working the contributions to that panel and we were very lucky to have Margaret Randall writing the Foreword. She is a very noted scholar on both feminism and Cuban studies. Our library has purchased the book and it is available for our GRC community.
How would you describe the process of getting published?
Getting published is both exhilarating and very hard work. It is a very rewarding experience, particularly when you publish in peer reviewed publications, since it means a committee of your peers looked at your work and thought that it was interesting.
Why is writing personally important and necessary to your profession?
I see writing essays, presenting at conferences and publishing as part of my teaching and preparation to be a better instructor, mentor and a better example for my students. Writing and presenting at academic conferences forces us to be updated about the scholarship of the subjects we teach; allows us to establish connections with colleagues from other institutions (many of which receive our students); and to think and re-think issues we teach about in different ways. It also levels the playing field with the students: we are asking them to constantly write academic essays. If I am doing the same, while teaching and taking care of family and trying to take care of all aspects of my life, I am demanding from them the same thing I am demanding from myself. Sometimes people don’t realize that teaching is not just the time we spend in the classroom or grading papers: teaching is part of a life style of constant learning and studying to be able to convey updated information to our students. We don’t stop working when we finish a lesson plan or when we get out of the classroom. Reading, studying, writing is part of our teaching and work. That is hard to put into numbers but it definitely improves the quality of our work and the prestige of our institution.
What are some of your own favorite books?
I love to read and I am constantly trying new authors and genres. I particularly like to read historical novels, and in general works of fiction that reflect on complex social and psychological issues. Amongst my favorite books are The General in His Labyrinth and The Autumn of the Patriarch, both by Gabriel Garcia Márquez; The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Dominican author Junot Díaz; The Kingdom of this World, by Alejo Carpentier; Here’s to You, Jesusa, by Mexican Elena Poniatowska; The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver; The Youngest Doll, by Rosario Ferré; Senselessness by Horacio Castellanos; The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss and many more.
Do you have any other writings (journals and book articles) that others may be interested in learning more about?
“Cuban Transgressions: Ofelia Rodriguez Acosta and the independent lesbian woman/nation.” (Currently under revision by the Journal of Literature and Linguistics of the University of Costa Rica.)
“Reinventando a Tina Modotti desde la escritura massmediática: La mujer infinita de José Ignacio Valenzuela.” Hispanic Journal 35. 2 (2014). 131-146.
“Violencia y papas fritas: Cuba en la oscuridad en Posesas de la Habana de Teresa Dovalpage.” Romance Notes 53.3 (2013). 353-365.
“Navigating the Cuban Ideological Divide: Research on the Independent Libraries Movement,” in Taking Risks: Feminist Stories of Social Justice Research in the Americas, ed Julie Shayne.SUNY Press; Praxis: Theory in Action series.
“Mirrors in the Kitchen: The New Cuban Woman Cooks Revolutionarily.” Food Culture and Society. Volume 15, Issue 2, June 2012.