106 Barrett Hall
PO Box: AC# 2255
Sara J. Brenneis
Associate Professor of Spanish
(On Leave 7/1/2015 - 12/31/2015)Amherst College
Courses in Spring 2014
Courses in Fall 2015
- Sara J. Brenneis is on leave during the Fall 2015 semester.
Professional and Biographical Information
Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, Hispanic Languages and Literatures (2007)
M.A., University of California, Berkeley, Hispanic Languages and Literatures (2002)
B.A., Wesleyan University, Spanish, Honors Thesis (1998)
One of the many advantages of teaching and learning at a liberal arts institution is the breadth of disciplines at the academic community’s disposal, and its willingness to look beyond these disciplinary boundaries to assemble a more complete understanding of the world around us. This is how I approach my teaching: Spanish literature, film, and other cultural productions do not exist in a vacuum and, as such, our critical thinking about contemporary Spain must necessarily encompass other fields and time periods that will lend us diverse perspectives culled from within Spain—incorporating history, politics, media, art, language and social structures—and from the world outside Spain’s borders. My courses are trained on Spanish culture after the Civil War (after 1939), but include materials from earlier time periods and other countries (Latin American, the U.S., and Western Europe) as well. In my courses on Spanish language, Spanish film and literatures, regional Iberian culture, urban studies, genre-specific studies and women’s writing, I offer an interdisciplinary approach, touching on issues of history, gender, memory, violence, representation, socioeconomic influences and nationality, among others, to encourage an in-depth global and local understanding of the course content.
My research focuses on the blending of history and fiction in contemporary Spanish literature and film, which I theorize as a way in which genres fuse around a common historical and narrative foundation, thus creating new approaches to understanding both fictional and non-fictional representations of personal and collective experience. My book, Genre Fusion: A New Approach to History, Fiction, and Memory in Contemporary Spain (Purdue University Press, 2014), examines the interweaving of fiction and history from the vantage point of four authors on the periphery of Postwar Spanish society (1939-present) who published both historiography and historical fiction after the death of Franco. Touching on questions of memory, historical accuracy, autobiography, testimony, and narrative representation in this book, I theorize about and analyze a space between two genres, in which twentieth- and twenty-first-century Spanish authors combine fiction and historiography into a uniquely blurred genre.
This notion of a genre fusion has influenced much of my research and publications: from a study of the influences of Social Darwinism on the nineteenth-century short stories of Leopoldo Alas, to the implications of Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s popular 2001 novel, La sombra del viento, on Spain’s collective historical understanding, to the role of Catalan history and identity in films about Barcelona. My scholarly interests span time periods and genres with the aim of understanding common historical and narrative threads that ultimately promote our consideration of Spain as a global presence in the twenty-first century.
My current research examines Spain's role in the Holocaust by analyzing Spanish representations of the Nazi concentration camp Mauthausen in novels, films and memoirs from 1940 to 2015. I have been awarded an NEH fellowship to complete this book project during the 2015 calendar year. I am also preparing an edited volume on Spain, World War II and the Holocaust with Gina Herrmann (Univ of Oregon). See the Call for Papers here.