Wadda C. Rios-Font

Wadda C. Rios-Font

Fellow: Awarded 2009
Field of Study: Latin American Literature

Competition: US & Canada

Barnard College

Wadda C. Ríos-Font (B.A., Johns Hopkins, 1985; Ph.D., Harvard, 1991) is Professor of Spanish and Latin American Cultures at Barnard College, and affiliated faculty of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at Columbia University. Previously, she was Associate Professor of Hispanic Studies at Brown University and Assistant Professor of Spanish at the University of Rochester. She has also held visiting appointments at the University of California at Berkeley, UCLA, and Rutgers University.

Her main academic specialization is Spanish literature and culture from 1800 to the present. Particular areas of inquiry have been: the interrelationship between different cultural systems—the literary, juridical, economic, and political fields—in modern Spanish society; literary historiography and processes of canonization, especially as affected by gender, class, and institutional constraints; transatlantic exchanges and the semiotics of national formation in Puerto Rico and Spain, after the breakdown of the Spanish empire.

Ms. Ríos-Font is the author of two books, Rewriting Melodrama: The Hidden Paradigm in Modern Spanish Theater (Bucknell UP, 1997), and The Canon and the Archive: Configuring Literature in Modern Spain (Bucknell UP, 2004). She has been published in journals including Hispanic Review, Hispania, MLN, and Revista de Estudios Hispánicos, and in the Cambridge History of Spanish Literature, among other venues. She also has long history of lecturing, both at professional conferences such as the Modern Language Association Convention, and by invitation at national institutions including the University of Wisconsin at Madison, the University of California at Los Angeles, Berkeley, Santa Barbara, and Irvine, the University of Washington (Seattle), the University of Oregon (Eugene), Dartmouth College, and Harvard University—and at international centers such as the Universities of Granada (Spain), Lund (Sweden), Cambridge (UK), and Tel Aviv (Israel).

The Guggenheim Fellowship and a Presidential Research Fellowship from Barnard College, in addition to travel aid from the Program for Cultural Cooperation between Spain’s Ministry of Culture and United States Universities, will enable Ms. Ríos-Font to devote her 2009 sabbatical to writing her third book, provisionally entitled Quasimodo’s Bell: Puerto Rican National Culture and the Spanish Empire, 1808-1898. This interdisciplinary project addresses the question of Puerto Rico’s “failure” to develop a significant independence movement during the last century of Spanish domination; it analyzes the enduring ties to the metropolis that determined this circumstance, as well as the development and representation of a conception of nationality that separated cultural identity from the reality of the nation-state. The sabbatical year’s scholarly activities have included research at various collections in Spain and Puerto Rico, as well as a writing stay at the University of Washington’s Whiteley Center.


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