From: Cervantes: Bulletin of the Cervantes Society of America
10.1 (1990): 5-6.
Copyright © 1990, The Cervantes Society of America
A SYMPOSIUM on Los trabajos de Persiles
y Sigismunda was held at Whitman College on February 23 and 24, 1990.
It was organized by Celia Weller and Clark Colahan and sponsored by Whitman
College. Funding came from a grant from The Program for Cultural Cooperation
between Spain's Ministry of Culture and United States' Universities, the
Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures' Cagley Fund, the College's
visiting educator fund and its Sheehan Gallery.
The symposium was prompted by the 1989 publication by the University of California Press of The Trials of Persiles and Sigismunda, the first English version to appear in over one hundred years. The translators, Weller and Colahan, have been hoping through the translation and the symposium to stir scholars not previously familiar with the Persiles to see its broad possibilities for criticism and reading enjoyment. Three well-known Cervantes scholars with special interest in the Persiles were invited: Juan Bautista Avalle-Arce, from whose Spanish edition the translation was done; Ruth El Saffar, and Diana de Armas Wilson.
A call for papers was issued and resulted in a number of papers, some from people who had not earlier worked with Persiles; this response led to a full two days of sessions with presentations on varied topics relating to the romance. You will find most of those papers published in this volume. Students from Clark Colahan's Cervantes class began discussion of each paper with questions and comments. Faculty members
from several departments at Whitman, as well as other scholars, also participated
In conjunction with the Persiles symposium, Whitman College's Sheehan Gallery mounted an exhibit (which ran from January through February) of illustrations of Cervantes' works. Professor Enrique Rodríguez Cepeda of U.C.L.A. was very helpful to the gallery, loaning much of his collection of illustrations of the Quixote; he attended the Persiles symposium as guest of the college, speaking on an iconographic interpretation of Don Quixote. Whitman students and local artists also contributed works in various media to the exhibit after reading selections from the Persiles translation, and it was exciting to compare the old and contemporary iconographies. Four of the local artists who contributed works to the Cervantes exhibit gave presentations to the Whitman faculty at a Faculty Forum, explaining the techniques used and concepts behind their interpretations. The opening of the Sheehan Gallery Exhibit in January was attended by a wide range of people from the Whitman and Walla Walla communities. The Whitman Renaissance Consort and Madrigal Singers performed early Spanish music in the Sheehan Gallery in mid-February and also for the symposium participants at a paella dinner at the nearby L'Ecole winery.
The symposium ended to the delight of the participants with a performance at Whitman's Harper Joy Theatre of Fletcher and Massinger's The Custom of the Country, a play loosely based on some characters and episodes from the Persiles. Throughout February the Whitman library ran an exhibit of Cervantine and related works. The symposium successfully brought together scholars from several areas of inquiry and regions of the country, as well as Whitman faculty, students, and the public, to celebrate and enjoy Persiles.
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