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episode 17: 2.6 Dreaming or Thinking: Cristina Rivera Garza with Kate Marshall and Dominique Vargas

ND stages a trialogue this week with MacArthur "Genius" Cristina Rivera Garza and Notre Dame critics Kate Marshall and Dominique Vargas. Professor Rivera Garza recalls roadtripping through Mexico in a bochito (a Volkswagen). For her, such drives became the mother of literary invention: there was no car radio and when family conversations died down, the window (and not an iPhone) became the screen that occupied her. In a more serious vein, CRG, Kate, and Dominique also discuss the role of linguistic mobility and translation in bringing Rivera Garza’s novels and essays to English-speaking audiences. CRG reflects on how books change when they cross languages and reminds us that the United States is the second largest Spanish-speaking country in the world. This episode productively estranges us from a number of received narratives about national monolingualism and experimental writing. Professor Rivera Garza rejects the notion of aesthetic individualism and the idealized image of the solitary writer. She declares that language always has plural roots and her work is underpinned by the belief that we only become individuals when community fails.

Mentioned in the Episode

  • Juan Rulfo
  • Rosario Castellanos
  • Ramón López Velarde
  • Virginia Woolf
  • Marguerite Duras
  • Suzanne Jill Levine & Aviva Kana, Translators of The Taiga Syndrome
  • Sarah Booker, Translator of Grieving: Dispatches from a Wounded Country

Transcript available here.

Aarthi Vadde is Associate Professor of English at Duke University. Email: John Plotz is Barbara Mandel Professor of the Humanities at Brandeis University and co-founder of the Brandeis Educational Justice Initiative. Email:

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 2021-12-02  33m