Ole Miss English professor heads to Italy in prestigious Rockefeller program
By Deidra Jackson
OXFORD, Miss. — Alfred Lopez, an assistant professor of English at the University of Mississippi, has been invited by the Rockefeller Foundation to attend a prestigious summer residency in Bellagio, Italy.
Lopez, who joined the UM faculty this fall, is at work on a book about the history of ideological conflict between the Castro regime on the island of Cuba and the Cuban Americans in Miami, Fla. During his May to June 2003 residency at the Bellagio Study and Conference Center in northern Italy, Lopez said he plans rigorous research.
“There’s a lot of reading to be done before I can write a full draft of the book, so I’ll be using my time at Bellagio to read, read, read,” said Lopez, a New York native who grew up in Miami’s Little Havana community. His research includes work by Jose Marti, a 19th century Cuban nationalist writer and patriot, and divergent bodies of criticism and biography that have been written since his death in 1895.
“I’ve always wanted to write a book that would present a more balanced, nuanced picture of what everyone—participants included—sees as a very polarized, with-us-or-against-us’ environment in both Miami and Havana.”
Lopez is one of 15 Rockefeller summer residents of various fields and countries who expect a publication, exhibition, performance or other product to result from their visit.
“This is a significant honor for him and for the Department of English, and as we hired Dr. Lopez, it’s a nice confirmation of our good judgment,” said Joseph Urgo, chair of the UM Department of English.
The author of Posts and Pasts: A Theory of Postcolonialism, Lopez has written an excerpt of his current book project, which will be published in the spring 2003 issue of Cuban Studies, a top journal in its field. He said his topic is personal, referring to his longtime interest in Marti and Cuban issues.
“As a Cuban-American, these questions cut very, very close to me, since I grew up in the heart of the Cuban exile community in Miami,” Lopez said. “I’ve always suspected that there were other ways of thinking about Cuban-ness and what it means to identify as a Cuban than what we were told as children in history and literature classes.”
This semester, Lopez is teaching a world literature survey and major authors in world literature, and he is planning courses in psychoanalysis and literature, postcolonial studies and the Cuban migration story.
Widely published in journals and essays, Lopez has two other projects soon to be published—a translation of Cuban writer Daina Chaviano’s “El hombre, la hembra, y el hambre” (“Man, Woman, Hunger”) and a collection of essays, Postcolonial Whiteness: A Critical Reader.
Before his UM appointment, Lopez was an assistant professor of English at Florida International University in Miami. He received doctoral and masters degrees in English from the University of Iowa and master’s and bachelor’s degrees from Ohio State University and Florida International University, respectively.
The Rockefeller Center is a global foundation that works to enrich and sustain the lives and livelihoods of poor and excluded people throughout the world, through themes including creativity and culture. Applicants are accepted not just for individual excellence or for the potential of their proposed projects, but also for their geographical diversity and their capacity to contribute to the intellectual mix at the Bellagio Center.
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