Faculty forum to explore Chilean writer's novel ‘2666’

February 3, 2014

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Roberto Bolaño’s novel ‘2666’

PLATTEVILLE, Wis. — The University of Wisconsin-Platteville College of Liberal Arts and Education will host its first faculty forum of the spring semester, “Faceless Forgetting: Literature as Ghost Whisperer in ‘2666’,” on Thursday, Feb. 6, from 5-6:30 p.m. in Lundeen Lecture Hall, 103 Doudna Hall, UW-Platteville. The event is free and open to the public.

Dr. Chris Schulenburg, associate professor of Spanish and program coordinator of Latin American studies at UW-Platteville, will be presenting and Dr. Melissa Gormley, associate professor of history and director of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program at UW-Platteville, will be responding.

Schulenburg’s presentation will address many of the themes contained in Chilean writer Roberto Bolaño’s epic “2666.” Sweeping in scope, “2666” is a novel about life, desperation, violence, hopelessness and death. The story, which centers in the fictional city of Santa Teresa, is about a horrific series of unsolved kidnappings, rapes, mutilations and murders of hundreds of the city’s women and girls. The mysterious killings are based on actual crimes that occurred in the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juárez in the 1990s. Some of the murdered women and girls appear as ghosts in the novel.

“The cumulative effect of this novel is arresting,” said Schulenburg. “The reader hears the ghostly voices of the remnants of these faceless, nameless, innocent women and children who were murdered. By including them as ghosts who sometimes speak to other characters in the novel, Bolaño is hoping the victims will not be forgotten. The novel is a vivid, painful reminder of truths we would like to forget.”

“There is a need for all of us to be intellectually aware of the horrific violence that took place in Ciudad Juárez and of other violence that has taken place in the world throughout history–and still takes place today,” continued Schulenburg. “We must be willing to learn about these atrocities so that we can attempt to understand how they occurred. Only then can our feelings of outrage be channeled into something that motivates us to take action and change things and ensure that the victims will not be forgotten.”

In “Alone Among the Ghosts: Roberto Bolaño’s ‘2666’,” written by Marcela Valdes and published in “The Nation,” Valdes stated, “‘2666’, like all of Bolaño's work, is a graveyard. In his 1998 acceptance speech for the Rómulo Gallego's Prize, Bolaño revealed that in some way everything he wrote was ‘a letter of love or of goodbye’ to the young people who died in the dirty wars of Latin America. His previous novels memorialized the dead of the 1960s and '70s. His ambitions for ‘2666’ were greater: to write a postmortem for the dead of the past, the present and the future.”

Following Schulenburg’s presentation, Gormley will respond, discussing some of the historical facts behind many of the disappearances along the Mexican border.

A 30-minute question and answer period will follow Gormley’s response. Refreshments will be served.

Contact: Dr. Chris Schulenburg, department of humanities, (608) 342-1109, schulenburgc@uwplatt.edu

Written by: Laurie Hamer, College of Liberal Arts and Education, (608) 342-6191, hamerl@uwplatt.edu

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