News News: Hispanic Studies Spring 2015

Michael J. Le (’15) Researches Spanish Graphic Novel

El arte de volar (2009)
El arte de volar (2009)

During the summer of 2015, El Cid, the National Journal of the Tau Iota Chapter of Sigma Delta Pi, National Collegiate Hispanic Honor Society, at The Citadel, will publish an article by Michael J. Le (HISP ’15; minor in Japanese).  Michael’s article focuses on the graphic novel by Antonio Altarriba, El arte de volar (2009). Altarriba’s poignant graphic novel details the author’s attempt to portray his father’s life during the war and post-war through his themes of reconciliation and fragmentation, reflected in the very medium itself. Not only do the frames divide the narrative and must be completed to continue: Altarriba masterfully superimposes his own narrative voice onto that of his father, creating a tense intersection spanning generations and political perspectives. In essence, the reader becomes the connective tissue that binds the relationship between son, father, and narrative and is subsequently transformed into a witness to the greater part of the 20th century. A true collaboration between reader and text. Within this context, Michael looks at how Altarriba elevates the personal narrative to a national narrative of trauma and collective memory, examining the familial unit as a metaphor for political turmoil.

artedevolar2As a Hispanic Studies major, Michael has embraced multiple and varied opportunities in our program, including serving as a Teaching Assistant for our language classes. After a successful internship at the Hispanic Division of the Library of Congress (summer 2013), during which he developed the basis for a finding aid for the Handbook of Latin American Studies, Michael spent last summer (2014) interning at the Cultural Division of the Spanish Embassy in Washington, D.C..  During the latter, Michael found himself doing heavy editorial and translation work, which dovetailed with the translation courses he had taken in our program, his translations for the documentary La memoria se abre paso, and for Oneyda González‘s book Polvo de alas: el guión cinematográfico en Cuba.  Translation was also an important part of Michael’s work as a research assistant to Prof. Francie Cate-Arries for the Cádiz Memory Project.  Under the auspices of a Weingartner Fellowship, Michael was able to translate testimonies and research Historic Memory in post-Franco Spain, which included translating and subtitling the documentary La Sauceda, de la utopía al horror.

After graduating, Michael will spend a year teaching English in Japan through the prestigious JET program.