Dr Lucy Bell


Lecturer in Spanish and Translation Studies
PhD, Cantab
+44 (0)1483 682869
18 LC 03

Academic and research departments

School of Literature and Languages.

Biography

Biography

I joined the University of Surrey in 2013 after completing an AHRC-funded PhD at the University of Cambridge. I specialise in Latin American literary and cultural studies: cultural and political theory, environmental criticism and transnational social movement studies. My first book (Oxford: Legenda 2014), The Latin American Short Story at its Limits: Fragmentation, Hybridity and Intermediality, takes a fresh approach to cuentos and microcuentos by Juan Rulfo, Julio Cortázar and Augusto Monterroso. In this monograph, the short story is re-read and re-viewed as a product of intersections between tradition and modernity, and, correspondingly, different forms and media: orality and storytelling, photography, cinema, journalism, telephony and cartoon art.

I am currently working on two related research projects. First, I am leading an AHRC-funded project entitled Precarious Publishing in Latin America: Relations, Meaning and Community in Movement (July 2017 - September 2019), with anthropologist Alex Flynn (Durham University). This collaborative, transnational and multi-disciplinary project takes a fresh look at editoriales cartoneras (waste-picking publishers) in Mexico and Brazil from literary, cultural and anthropological perspectives. As well as producing a number of journal articles and a book, we will be carrying out an ambitious set of impact activities in the UK, Brazil and Mexico: an exhibition for the general public and a series of book-making workshops for school groups in São Paulo; the creation of cartonera collections with our project partners at the British Library, Senate House Library and Cambridge University Library; and the publication of blogs and articles in the UK, Brazil and Mexico.

Second, I am working on an interdisciplinary research project on waste pickers and wasted environments in Argentina and Brazil, which engages with, and builds on, waste theory and recent ecocritical trends (in particular new materialism) through literature, visual art and film (Andrés Neuman, César Aira, Marcos Herrera, Ernesto Livon-Grossman, Vik Muniz, Lucy Evans, Dulcineia Catadora). The monograph, which is in preparation, is provisionally entitled Living Waste: Bodies, Materials and Environments in Contemporary Latin American Narrative.

PhD supervision: I welcome inquiries from prospective students with interests in Latin American literary and cultural studies. Topics of interest include: Mexican literature and culture; transnational cultural networks; environmental literature and criticism; the short story.

Research interests

Latin American studiesEuropean literature and philosophyCultural theoryLiterary criticismEnvironmental criticism

Teaching

Spanish language; Spanish-English translation; Contemporary Spain; Arts in the Spanish-Speaking World

Departmental duties

Admissions Tutor for Languages

University roles and responsibilities

  • Admissions Tutor for Languages

Supervision

Postgraduate research supervision

My publications

Publications

Bell LAJ (2011) Articulations of the Real: from Lacan to Badiou, Paragraph: a journal of modern critical theory 34 (1) pp. 105-120 Edinburgh University Press
This article gives a comparative analysis of the way in which Lacanian psychoanalysis and Alain Badiou?s mathematical ontology understand the category of the real, respectively, as the foundation of individual subjectivity or the name of being-as-being. A number of shifts in focus arise from the fundamental difference in the location of the void: from the individual act to the collective event; from death drive to immortal truth; from subjective destitution and cathartic purification to transformative interventions and constitutive thought. These shifts are exemplified, elaborated and analysed through a close reading of the thinkers? respective commentaries on Sophocles? Antigone. Foregrounding what is philosophically at stake in these differences, the article defends Badiou against Lacanian critics (most notably Slavoj }i~ek and Eleanor Kaufman) by examining the ethical and political force of his innovation.
Bell LAJ (2014) Photography, Punctum and Shock: Re-Viewing Juan Rulfo?s Short Stories, Bulletin of Hispanic Studies (Liverpool) 91 (4) pp. 437-452
Prominent and proliferating readings locate mythical structures at the heart of Juan Rulfo?s literary world. Notably, Raymond Bartra and María Luisa Ortega suggest that his works are structured around universal, timeless myths that embed individual experiences in a collective narrative. In this article, I argue that Rulfo?s narrative technique is in fact connected with an extra-literary, eminently modern técnica: photographic technology. Rulfo?s short story collection El llano en llamas (1953) is viewed through three intersecting critical frames: Walter Benjamin?s writings on the modern shock experience, the idea of the ?knock-out? in Julio Cortázar?s theory of the short story, and Roland Barthes?s notion of the photographic punctum. My contention is that an aesthetics of photographic shock underlies Rulfo?s short stories, producing tears in the narrative fabric, and invoking the reader?s participation through particular, personal, contingent effects.
Bell L (2014) The Latin American Short Story at its Limits: Fragmentation, Hybridity and Intermediality, 4 Legenda
The Latin American short story has often been viewed in terms of its relation to orality, tradition and myth. But this desire to celebrate the difference of Latin American culture unwittingly contributes to its exoticization, failing to do justice to its richness, complexity and contemporaneity. By re-reading and re-viewing the short stories of Juan Rulfo, Julio Cortazar and Augusto Monterroso, Bell reveals the hybridity of this genre. It is at once rooted in traditional narrative and fragmented by modern experience; its residual qualities are revived through emergent forms. Crucially, its oral and mythical characteristics are compounded with the formal traits of modern, emerging media: photography, cinema, telephony, journalism, and cartoon art.
Bell LAJ, Lygo-Baker S (2017) Student-centred learning: a small-scale study of a peer learning experience in undergraduate translation classes, Language Learning Journal pp. 1-14
This paper examines student responses to a small-scale pilot of peer learning in undergraduate translation classes. It examines the possible benefits and risks of a learner-centred approach and explores these through feedback from two groups of undergraduate modern language students attending translation classes over a semester at a UK university. With the first group, peer learning was implemented over a six-week period in the second half of the semester; with the second group, only a single ?one-off? peer learning session was delivered. Feedback from the former group suggests a largely positive experience, while much more resistance and uncertainty is evident in feedback from the latter group. The paper explores possible reasons for successes and pitfalls in peer learning, and recommends some strategies for implementing a learner-centred model as an effective alternative to more traditional forms of translation teaching.
Bell LAJ (2011) Between Ethics and Aesthetics: the Residual in Samuel Beckett's Minimalism, The Journal of Beckett Studies 20 (1) pp. 32-53 Edinburgh University Press
This article offers a comparative analysis of 1960s minimalism in visual art (Robert Morris and Richard Tuttle) and music (Philip Glass and Steve Reich) on the one hand, and Samuel Beckett?s prose texts Têtes-mortes (1967) and ?Sans? (1969) on the other, allowing for a rethinking of Beckett?s later aesthetics. Taking into account a lesser-known study of Beckett by Adorno and tying this in with the more famous theories of Maurice Blanchot, Alain Badiou and Jacques Derrida, the ethical dimension of minimalism is brought to the fore in order to shed new light on an art movement which has often been deemed to be a dead-end in art history. In particular, the article seeks to explore Beckett?s ethics of the minimal residue as a response to the catastrophe of the Holocaust, and as a consequent form of resistance to incorporation, appropriation and annihilation.
Bell LAJ (2015) Nuevas perspectivas: una aproximación a lo visual en los cuentos de Juan Rulfo, In: 60 años de El llano en llamas: Reflexiones académicas pp. 67-72 Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
Bell LAJ (2015) Viscous Porosity: Interactions between Human and Environment in Juan Rulfo's El Llano en llamas, Journal of Iberian and Latin American Research Taylor & Francis
Bell L (2014) Badiou, In: The }i~ek Dictionary pp. 10-13 Acumen
Bell LAJ (2012) The Death of the Storyteller and the Poetics of (Un)Containment: Juan Rulfo?s El llano en llamas, The Modern Language Review 107 (3) pp. 815-836 Modern Humanities Research Association
Critics have often read Juan Rulfo's El Llano en llamas (1953) as a return to the oral storytelling tradition. My contention, however, is that his short stories constitute an eminently modern break from cultural, narrative tradition?or what Ángel Rama has termed transculturation. I first explore how the death of the storyteller, prophesied by Walter Benjamin (1936), is staged within Rulfo's stories; and second, how Rulfo uses fragmentation as a literary device, which in turn potentiates further transculturative processes. I argue that it is in the ruins of traditional narrative that new meanings, stories, and relations emerge.
Bell LAJ (2017) Recycling Materials, Recycling Lives: Cardboard Publishers in Latin America, In: Johns-Putra A, Parham J, Squire L (eds.), Literature and Sustainability Manchester University Press
Editoriales cartoneras are independent publishers who make their books out of recycled cardboard, which have spread across and beyond Latin America over the last twelve years (since the birth of Eloísa Cartonera in Buenos Aires in 2003). They have often defined themselves, and been defined by critics, against transnational publishing corporations, but descriptions of this ?resistance? are often vague and sometimes contradictory.

This is the first study to focus on the relationship between cartoneras and multinational publishers, examining areas of opposition and overlap. The paper begins by exploring the effects of the rise of transnational corporations on the world of publishing in Latin America, including neo-imperialistic centralization, concentration, and capture by market and political forces. It then turns to two case studies based (principally) in Mexico: La Verdura Cartonera and Pensaré Cartoneras. Close readings combined with interview materials illuminate the principles and practices of cartoneras, from community and collaboration to marginality and autonomy, that challenge those of transnational publishing corporations. My contention is that, while these tiny publishing projects cannot possibly ?compete? with such large corporations, what they can do is open spaces in which ? to use the words of Aurelio Meza (Kodama Cartonera) ? things can be done differently.

Bell L (2015) Narrative, Nature, Society: The Network of Waste in Andrés Neuman?s Bariloche, Modern Language Review 110 (4) pp. 1045-1066 Modern Humanities Research Association
Refuse is a key theme, image and structural device in the Spanish-Argentine writer Andrés Neuman?s novel Bariloche (1999), whose protagonist is a waste collector in Buenos Aires. My contention, though, is that waste not only fulfils a narrative function, but in fact constitutes what Bruno Latour terms a ?network?, a web of interactions between discursive, natural and social processes. Bringing together close literary analysis with insights from environmental criticism (Stacy Alaimo and Jane Bennett) and sociology (Zygmunt Bauman and Martin O?Brien), this paper reveals the complex interactions between the human and non-human world in the novel?s urban setting.
Bell L (2018) Place, People and Processes in Waste Theory: A Global South Critique, Cultural Studies Taylor & Francis
Scholars across the humanities and social sciences have long sought to theorize waste, and more particularly the relationships between humans ? their history, society, culture, art and thought ? and their discards. My contention, though, is that these theories, since Mary Douglas?s Purity and Danger (1966) and Thompson?s Rubbish Theory (1979), have been predominantly based in and on global North contexts and, concomitantly, have taken as their axiom the distance between our cultures, lives, experiences and our material rejects. By intersecting existing cultural theories of waste with two important emerging schools of thought ? environmental justice and new materialism ? I argue that the exclusion or side-lining of places, notably in the global South, where countless people live on a day-to-day basis with, on, and off waste, leads to certain imbalances, biases and gaps. Most notably, the livingness and agency of material rejects is often overlooked in theories that oppose humans and other-than-human waste. By way of conclusion, I propose the notion of ?living waste? ? a more literal and material take on Bauman?s well-known concept ?wasted lives? ? as a new point of departure for a reconceptualization of waste that might escape the prevailing dualisms and account simultaneously for ?full-belly? and ?empty-belly? contexts, human (wasted) lives and other-than-human waste materials, and understandings of lived experiences of waste.