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Wofford professor completes book on women writers

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

SPARTANBURG, SC – Dr. Laura Barbas Rhoden, assistant professor of foreign languages at Wofford College, extended her post-graduate studies to compile the stories of several women writers in her newly published book “Writing Women in Central America."

“The book is a study that looks at the intersection of gender issues and history in the narratives of women,” says Barbas Rhoden, who received her master’s degree in Latin American studies and her doctorate in Spanish from Tulane University in New Orleans. Tulane’s strong Central American studies program and its “long-standing ties to Central America made it easier to do research there,” she adds.

Barbas Rhoden began the seven-year project in graduate school by conducting “cultural research through interviews with writers, community organizers and activists” in Central America. She made the decision to develop her work into a book because she “felt like the writers had many important stories to tell,” she says.

Because Central American literature is largely overlooked in North America, Barbas Rhoden says, “Writing and publishing a book would be a good way to create more dialog about the literature. If the Latin American works can’t make it into the classrooms or into the general populous, then they are really limited in their impact.”

During the project, Barbas Rhoden was deeply impacted by the people with whom she came in contact. “One of the best things was meeting authors who are not only writers but are also committed to justice and the people in their countries,” Barbas Rhoden says. “The literature is incredibly moving as well because it is so tied to that reality (of Central America).”

Not only did Barbas Rhoden study another culture, but she also learned personal life lessons. The project “taught me to be flexible and to use the informal networks and connections that are so important,” she says.

“Writing Women in Central America” was published in 2003 by Ohio University Press. It is available directly through the press, through their Web site, http://www.ohiou.edu/oupress/ or through retailers such as Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.

Kristin Sams '05, a junior majoring in English and French, wrote this article.

For more information on books by Wofford authors, check out Faculty and Staff Bookshelf webpage, http://www.wofford.info/newsroom/facultyStaffBookshelf.asp .