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LIT 6934: Literature of Place: Florida


September 16 Class 4: History and Place: The Local -- Ybor City

    Review video: Robert Ingalls, Professor Emeritus, History, USF (Canvas)
    Jose Iglesias, The Truth About Them
    Jose Iglesias, "The Radical Latino Island in the South," Tampa Bay History Spring 1996. (USF library journals online and Canvas)
    Start Gannon's Florida: A Short History
    Visit to Spec Collections, USF Library 3:45- 4:45 with Andy Huse
    DUE: Post #3

Class Objectives:

    Visit Florida Collections at the USF Library's Special Collections

    Review disciplinary distinctions of history - Florida/Ybor history

    Discuss place/place making in The Truth About Them

    Introduce Contemplative Photography

    Plan for Ybor Field trip


Notes and Discussion Questions:

    Dr. Ingall's lecture on Cuban Cigar Makers in Ybor City begins with a definition of history and the practice of writing history. In what ways is this compatible with fiction? In what ways is history essential to place?

    The subjects of Dr. Ingalls's talk reverberate with the readings for today, in particular the essay by Jose Iglesias, "The Radical Latino Island in the South." How do the two texts speak to one another?

    Both Ingalls and Yglesias trace the rise and dispersal of the Latin community in Ybor and Tampa. Yglesias says at the start of the essay that the truth of the community should not die out with the place. What does this mean? To what extent has the truth died or remained living?

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The Truth About Them by Jose Yglesias

    This novel first published in 1971 is a sprawling family chronicle and a distinctive immigrant narrative. It compasses the lives and stories of four generations of a Cuban-American family told from the perspective of second generation immigrant son. The action moves between Matanzas, Havana, Key West, Tampa and New York City. Would you call this an American novel? A Florida novel?

    As in his essay, Yglesias is keenly aware of class differences in the novel. The "them" of the novel is the colonial Spanish families of Cuba; what is the truth the novel tells about them? How might this relate to Yglesias' claim in his essay that "we Latins are not necessarily of a piece"?

    The Truth About Them offers a rich example of a literary text that provides enormous amounts of information about place, written as it is by a talented writer, keen observer and a person who is both inside and outside the community. Let's analyze the novel on a variety of levels related to place.

    Returning to Cresswell, what information does the novel provide on a descriptive level? What do you learn about Ybor that you might not know today?

    What information does the novel provide about the social construction of place? In this particular place (Ybor from 1880s to 1950s), what attributes of place does the book highlight that inform the social, political, racial, gendered, sexual, and economic structures? It is for this question, I believe, that the book provides most information.

    How does the narrative suggest a phenomenology of place? The narrative follows the perspective of Pini, and so you might explore how his relation to place changes through time. This is not easy because the book is not told in chronological sequence. As an aside, why might that be? What is the relation between linear time and immigrant experience? Does place have anything to do with this?

    You might focus on a character other than Pini or in contrast to Pini to develop this idea.

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Contemplative Photography

    Please read the brief excerpt from Practicing Contemplative Photography: Seeing the World through Fresh Eyes, by Andy Karr and Michael Wood in Canvas.

    We will discuss how this relates to your photojournal projects, which begin next week.

    We will sign travel forms and discuss logistics for our Ybor City field trip.


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