Nicolás Campisi, who completed his doctoral degree in Hispanic Studies, has been selected for a 2021 Joukowsky Outstanding Dissertation Award for his innovative research on Latin American fiction. He will receive the award at the Graduate School Commencement Ceremony on May 1. This prize recognizes the superior research achievements of doctoral students.
His dissertation “is truly groundbreaking in terms of its analyses, its reach, and its disciplinary crossings,” shares Michelle Clayton, Associate Professor, Hispanic Studies and Comparative Literature. Other nominators recognize Campisi as a brilliant and promising young scholar in the fields of modern and contemporary Latin American and comparative literature and culture.
His dissertation entitled, El retorno de lo contemporáneo: La novela latinoamericana en el fin de los tiempos (The Return of the Contemporary: The Latin American Novel in the End Times) explores how current Latin American fiction addresses a selection of modern issues, ranging from environmental crises and post-dictatorship trauma to economic insecurity and migration.
He examines authors from Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Chile, and the U.S., including readings from Pedro Mairal’s El año del desierto, Verónica Gerber Bicecci’s Conjunto vacío, Julián Fuks’ A resistência, Guadalupe Nettel’s El huésped, Alejandro Zambra’s Formas de volver a casa, and Samanta Schweblin’s Distancia de rescate.
Campisi analyzes each novel within the context of contemporary criticism as well as against a backdrop of theoretical discussions from both art history and Latin American studies. He purposely selected writers from different linguistic traditions and genres from the past few decades.
His “dissertation is tightly connected to conversations in our field that question the aesthetics and politics of the “contemporary” —what does it mean, what does it look like— in the context of Latin American literary and cultural criticism,” says Assistant Professor of Hispanic Studies, Felipe Martínez-Pinzón.
Martínez-Pinzón also emphasizes that Campisi’s work is groundbreaking in the field of contemporary Latin American literary studies. “He conceptualizes the urgency of literary engagements with a generalized experience of contemporary crisis in such a knowledgeable, acute and effective manner.”
Campisi shares that some of the highlights of his writing process included developing two courses, "Latin American Environmental Humanities" and "Arts of the Environment in the Americas," that he taught at the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies. The courses were based on the chapters about Latin American literature and environmental degradation and included the discussion of issues such as the use of pesticides, mining and oil extraction, and waste and recycling.
He has published excerpts of his dissertation in Chasqui and A Contracorriente, which are leading journals in his field. He plans to send a book proposal within the next year to a university press in North America, specifically to a series on contemporary literature and aesthetics, and later hopes to publish a Spanish version of the book in Latin America.
Campisi shares, “I finished writing this dissertation about literature and the end times during a global pandemic, which confirmed my suspicions about how the notion of crisis in the twenty-first century involves the entanglement of the social, the economic, the political, and the ecological. The award gives me hope that my research can contribute in some way to current discussions about the future of our planet and the reshaping of our contemporary world through literature.”
“Specifically, I hope that my book project will shed light on how contemporary Latin American writers are framing our present crises within the deep time of settler colonialism, extractivism, and political violence in order to escape the discourses about the end of times and allow for the creation of alternative futures.”
While at Brown Campisi received the David and Ruth Kossoff Prize for Leadership in Language Teaching from the Hispanic Studies Department and the Lyle Olsen Graduate Essay Prize from the Sport Literature Association. He completed his degree in July of 2020 and served as Visiting Assistant Professor in Hispanic Studies at Brown this past academic year. He also taught a course on "Latin American Environmental Humanities" at the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS).
Read more about the other Joukowsky Prize winners.