Department: Modern and Classical Languages
Although my professional specialization is contemporary Spanish literature, I have a strong interest in comparative literature as evidenced in my thesis and dissertation, which focused on Aristotelian theory of tragedy and Brecht's epic theater in Alfonso Sastre's and Antonio Buero Vallejo's plays and theory of drama. However, most of my current research has been devoted to John Kennedy Toole's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel "A Confederacy of Dunces. This comic novel takes place in New Orleans in the 1960s, when I also lived there. While critics often use the words "picaresque" and "quixotic" when they discuss the novel, they never fully explore the Spanish literary influence of "Lazarillo de Tormes," the first picaresque novel, and "Don Quixote de la Mancha" as primary influences on Toole's novel. I also explore the influence of "Candide" and "Huckleberry Finn" in my research. During the course of the filming of Joe Sanford's award-winning documentary about Toole, "The Omega Point," I was asked about Flannery O'Connor's influence on him. This has led me to an in-depth study of her work and its relationship to "A Confederacy of Dunces." I am convinced that Toole's novel was inspired by O'Connor's short story "The Enduring Chill," which takes me back to the Spanish mystics Santa Teresa de Avila and San Juan de la Cruz. In April 2011, I presented my most recent research on Spanish mysticism, where I link Junot Diaz's novel "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" to Toole's "A Confederacy of Dunces."