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The Politics of Plagiarism: Queer Appropriation and Collaborative Creation in Ena Lucía Portela and María Moreno

Wednesday 20 October 2021, 5.00PM

Speaker(s): Dr Natasha Tanna (University of York)

Chair: Dr Hannah Roche
In this paper Natasha Tanna analyses the queer literary politics of Cuban author Ena Lucía Portela and Argentine writer María Moreno’s engagements with cultural precursors such as the North American Djuna Barnes in their works written in the 1990s–2000s. The lack of a clearly defined tradition of lesbian/queer literature by women in Cuba and Argentina leads these two writers to appropriate or invent their own during periods of increasing liberalisation in their respective countries. She considers Portela and Moreno’s joyful gestures of creative plagiarism as examples of ‘the ecstasy of influence’ (Jonathan Lethem), ‘curation’ (Cristina Rivera Garza), and ‘transelation” (Erín Moure)’. Their appropriative acts appear to signal their revelling in a cosmopolitan commons, largely situated in the U.S. and Europe, via Belle Époque Paris, from which fragments can be drawn to create queer counter-canons. However, she concludes that through their highly intertextual works both writers reflect critically on the location of the so-called cosmopolitan in queer literary genealogies and on power dynamics and hierarchies amongst both authors and characters and different creative forms, including academic writing. Natasha will argue that, while the diegesis of their texts is largely set outside their local contexts, both writers’ works are deeply located in Cuba and Argentina.

Natasha Tanna is a Lecturer in World Literature in the Department of English and Related Literature at the University York and a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellow. Natasha specialises in queer, feminist, and decolonial approaches to literary, cultural, and social analysis. Her research focuses predominantly on Latin(x) America, the Caribbean, Spain, and Catalonia. She is the author of Queer Genealogies in Transnational Barcelona (Legenda, 2019), which was awarded the Association of Hispanists of Great Britain and Ireland Publication Prize 2018. Before joining York in September 2021, Natasha was a Research Fellow in the Department of Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies at University College London and Lecturer in Spanish and Director of Studies in Modern and Medieval Languages at Christ’s College, University of Cambridge. 
Moreno translation excerpt: The Skeffington Affair (PDF , 753kb)


Location: BS/005, Bowland Auditorium, University of York, Heslington West Campus