Rocky Mountain E-Review 
of Language and Literature

Volume 53, Number 1
Spring 1999

From the Editors

The sun is shining and it looks as if spring has finally arrived: a "new beginning," as the redundancy goes, and yet, winter is not really that far away. Its memory is a presence that still determines what we wear each day, subjecting our lyricism to the pragmatics of weather. This issue of the Rocky Mountain Review encompasses these feelings as well. It represents a beginning: our first thematic issue, a way of experimenting with a subject and its many perspectives across cultures and across time. At the same time, it links us to the past, the recent one, the one we still remember, through its focus on the use of memory in literature. We acknowledge the excitement at the approach of the new millennium but we are also experiencing a need to stop, remember, and review. Literature is not removed from this process. Many writers around the globe have responded to the need to express some sort of remembrance, a part of their history or that of others that may serve as a way of capturing the evanescent while preparing for the new. We hope you enjoy the articles we have selected to showcase this theme, and find in them those little nuggets of wisdom that bring sunshine to our souls.

Spring notwithstanding, grass is not growing under us! We would also like to invite you to be part of our next thematic issue. For the Spring 2000 issue, we will focus on "Anachronisms and Neologisms in Language and Literature: The Creation of New Wor(l)ds." As teachers and lovers of languages, we thought it would provide a forum to examine how they have helped in the formulation of world views, or served as reflections of the new. We hope you are inspired by this and send us your submissions by November 15, 1999.

Perhaps our most exciting project has been, and still is, the E-Review. Its electronic format allows for a more versatile presentation of our increasingly interdisciplinary research than that of the printed format (and for a fraction of the cost!), and we are more and more fascinated with the medium. We encourage you to explore its offerings on the RMMLA web site (, and familiarize yourself with all the new sections. We are very proud to be on the cutting edge of scholarly electronic journals while preserving the high standards of our printed publication.

October seems far off. We still have two seasons to span before we meet in Santa Fe. Still, like spring, we are starting early and see the sun shining as well on that particular window. Every day we add information about it to our web site, and soon we'll include the program copy. These are truly exciting times for us at RMMLA and we hope you will want to share in them too!

Ana María Rodríguez-Vivaldi 
Rachel Halverson


Message in a Bottle:
Tricks of Time in Las batallas en el desierto, by José Emilio Pacheco

Florence Moorhead-Rosenberg 
Boise State University

Las batallas en el desierto (1981), by José Emilio Pacheco, couples the device of the epic hero with the process of remembrance in order to defamiliarize and then bring a greater clarity to social issues and characteristics of post-WWII and contemporary Mexico. The adult narrator Carlos, in the act of remembering his "infatuation" with Mariana, undertakes a journey into his past, though he actually travels no further than the reaches of his mind. His courage in confronting an extremely uncomfortable episode at the age of nine and then reconstructing it as a forty-something adult affords us a glimpse of one of the few forms of "heroic" behavior left to the modern world: the undertaking and simultaneous narration of a confrontation with a bleak and better forgotten past in order to understand the nature of one's position in the present. The discursive structure of Las batallas incorporates at least three of Gérard Genette's temporal perspectives (as outlined in Narrative Discourse: An Essay in Method), a strategy which stimulates the reader to construct a more totalizing view of the events narrated and the present from which they are recounted. The entire journey, in fact, constitutes an elaborate rite of passage, one which leads Carlos to a more profound understanding of not only his society, but his place within that society.

Immediate Memories:
(Nostalgic) Time and (Immediate) Loss in the Poetry of David Shapiro

Carl Whithaus
Queens College, CUNY

As a New York poet writing at the end of the twentieth century, David Shapiro's works have often been read as a continuation of poetic projects begun by earlier New York School poets (e.g., Frank O'Hara, John Ashbery, and Kenneth Koch) or L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poets (e.g., Charles Bernstein, Bruce Andrews, and Ron Sillman). Shapiro's writing can been seen in relationship to these poetic projects -- his writing traces over and over the surface of words, while the "depth" of narrative or confession is exposed as illusion; yet, Shapiro's poems insist on their attempts to connect with the past. Shapiro's writing (heroically) acknowledges that the past -- at least in poetry -- is always "grasped" (and lost) in the present by a reader and not the poet.

Can the Female Muse Speak? 
Chacel and Poniatowska Read Against the Grain

Sebastiaan Faber
University of California, Davis

Rosa Chacel's Teresa (1941) and Elena Poniatowska's Querido Diego, te abraza Quiela (1978) are two fictionalized (auto)biographical texts about Teresa Mancha, the famous lover of Spanish Romantic poet José de Espronceda, and Angelina Beloff, who shared her life for ten years with Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. Both texts subvert the patriarchal ideology of their sources. In addition to revising the historical image of their protagonists, the authors also attempt to correct the views of women prevailing in their own cultural milieu.

Memory Tricks: Re-Calling and Testimony
in the Poetry of Alicia Gaspar de Alba

Susana Chávez Silverman
Pomona College

In Alicia Gaspar de Alba's second collection of poetry, Gardenias for El Gran Gurú and Other Poems, the act of remembering is central. The function of memory -- at once elegiac and regenerative -- is explored in the work of Gaspar de Alba, principally in her recent poetry but also involving important intertextualities with earlier pieces, such as the poem "Domingo Means Scrubbing" and the story "Malinche's Rights." The notion of "re-calling," deployed bisemically, refers to the act of remembering in the conventional sense and also, more importantly perhaps, connotes a more active sense of re-naming, re-assembling the past, both personal and collective. Motifs of death, loss, absence, pain, ritual, and lesbian eroticism (which recur with regularity in Gaspar de Alba's oeuvre) are traceable in a number of emblematic texts. In this most recent work, it is the inscription of the father's death that allows the poet's voice to come into being, to testify, to write and re-member his dangerous presence, and to embrace what his passing means to her: "When my father dies / the stories I waited for will blossom."


The Education of the Soul: 
The Forsaken Ideal of Literary Study

Michael Richard Bonin
Gonzaga University

Our discipline's present-day professional detachment from literature's personal, moral claim upon the reader undermines literary study's traditional place in a liberal arts or humanistic education. Many great books overtly intend the reader's metanoia: spiritual conversion or awakening accomplished by means of verbal power. Nowadays, though, it is fashionable to treat literary works as only artifacts, mere products of an age, or as no more than tools of "hegemonic" cultural forces. But don't we fail as readers, teachers and critics when we refuse to engage The Divine Comedy or Walden, for example, on the authors' own stated terms?


House of Geishas by Ana María Shua 
[originally published as Casa de geishas 
(Buenos Aires: Editorial Sudamericana, 1992)]

Selections translated by David William Foster
Arizona State University


Teaching a Foreign Language with Some Technological Help
      CD-ROMs and Web Sites 
Reviewer: Sonja G. Hokanson

Untangling the Web: St. Martin's Guide to Language and Culture on the Internet, by Carl S. Blyth 
Reviewer: Joseph Collentine

Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human, by Harold Bloom 
Reviewer: Donna R. Cheney

The Art of Shakespeare's Sonnets, by Helen Vendler 
Reviewer: Mary L. Hjelm

At Zero Point: Discourse, Culture, and Satire in Restoration England, by Rose A. Zimbardo 
Reviewer: Paulette Scott

Authority and Female Authorship in Colonial America, by William J. Scheick 
Reviewer: Angela Athy

Gothic Feminism, by Diane Long Hoeveler 
Reviewer: Jeanette Roberts Shumaker

Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wall-paper" and the History of Its Publication and Reception: A Critical Edition and Documentary Casebook, ed. Julie Bates Dock 
Reviewer: Neila C. Seshachari

Rucksacks in the Classroom: Teaching Jack Kerouac in the Twenty-First Century
      Subterranean Kerouac: The Hidden Life of Jack Kerouac, by Ellis Amburn 
      The Long Slow Death of Jack Kerouac, by Jim Christy 
      Jack Kerouac, King of the Beats: A Portrait, by Barry Miles 
      Readings by Jack Kerouac on the Beat Generation. Compact Disk. 
      Kerouac -- kicks joy darkness. Compact Disk. 
      A Jack Kerouac ROMnibus. CD-ROM. 
Reviewer: Kurt Hemmer

What Is It Then Between Us?: Traditions of love in American Poetry, by Eric Murphy Selinger 
Reviewer: Eric P. Elshtain

Signature: Contemporary Southern Writers
Reviewer: Jeannette E. Riley

"The Studio System" and "Film Noir." American Cinema
Reviewer: Walter Metz

Women, Autobiography, Theory: A Reader, by Sidonie Smith and Julia Watson 
Reviewer: Susan Hendricks Swetnam

What's Happened to the Humanities?, ed. Alvin Kernan 
Reviewer: AnaLouise Keating

Universities and their Leadership, ed. William G. Bowen and Harold T. Shapiro 
Reviewer: Joyce Kinkead