Northwestern Events Calendar


The Poetics of Plants in Spanish American Literature — A Conversation with Lesley Wylie (Illuminations Series)

When: Thursday, June 2, 2022
12:30 PM - 1:30 PM Central

Where: Online

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Public - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Cost: Free

Contact: Danny Postel  

Group: Latin American and Caribbean Studies

Co-Sponsor: Department of Spanish and Portuguese

Category: Global & Civic Engagement, Academic, Lectures & Meetings, Multicultural & Diversity


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Please join us for this conversation with Lesley Wylie, Associate Professor of Latin American Studies at the University of Leicester, about her new book The Poetics of Plants in Spanish American Literature, published in the University of Pittsburgh Press series Illuminations: Cultural Formations of the Americas.

About the book

In The Poetics of Plants in Spanish American Literature, Lesley Wylie examines the defining role of plants in cultural expression across Latin America, particularly in literature. From the colonial georgic to Pablo Neruda’s Canto general, Lesley Wylie’s close study of botanical imagery demonstrates the fundamental role of the natural world and the relationship between people and plants in the region. Plants are also central to literary forms originating in the Americas, such as the New World Baroque, described by Alejo Carpentier as “nacido de árboles.”

The book establishes how vegetal imaginaries are key to Spanish American attempts to renovate European forms and traditions as well as to the reconfiguration of the relationship between humans and nonhumans. Such a reconfiguration, which persistently draws on indigenous animist ontologies to blur the boundaries between people and plants, anticipates much contemporary ecological thinking about our responsibility towards nonhuman nature and shows how environmental thinking by way of plants has a long history in Latin American literature.

About the author

Lesley Wylie is Associate Professor of Latin American Studies at the University of Leicester. She is the author of Colonial Tropes and Postcolonial Tricks: Rewriting the Tropics in the Novela de la Selva (2009) and Colombia’s Forgotten Frontier: A Literary Geography of the Putumayo (2013) and co-editor of Surveying the American Tropics: Literary Geographies from New York to Rio (2013). She works on Latin American literature and culture from the late nineteenth century to the present and is particularly interested in writing from Colombia, Cuba, and the Peruvian Amazon, as well as the intersections between literature and the environment. Future research plans include a book on animism in the work of the Anglo-Argentine author W. H. Hudson. She is Assistant Editor of the Bulletin of Spanish Studies.

This event is part of Illuminations: Conversations on Latin American Literary & Cultural Studies Today, a new series in which Jorge Coronado, Professor of modern Latin American and Andean literatures and cultures at Northwestern University and editor of the Illuminations series, talks (on Zoom) with Illuminations authors about their new books.

The series is co-hosted by the Latin American & Caribbean Studies Program and the Department of Spanish & Portuguese at Northwestern in partnership with the University of Pittsburgh Press.

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