Susan Larson

slarson's picture
Ph.D., University of Arizona

I specialize in twentieth- and twenty-first-century Spanish prose and film. For several years I have been thinking and writing about Spain’s many discourses of modernity and the cultural implications of urban planning, particularly in Madrid. Inspired by the theories of urban and social space of David Harvey, Henri Lefebvre and Franco Moretti, my book Constructing and Resisting Modernity: Madrid 1900 – 1936 (2011) studies the metropolitan spaces imagined by the technocrats who had the power to shape the city of Madrid and relates them to the fiction of authors such as Carmen de Burgos, José Díaz Fernández and Andrés Carranque de Ríos. The urban planner, the architect, and the author all have to have some kind of model, some image, some concept in mind before they put pen to paper. This same premise drives the co-authored book that I have been working on with Malcolm Compitello of the University of Arizona on the urban plan for Madrid of the PSOE (Partido Socialista Obrero Español) between 1982 and 2000  -- a project that has been funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

My current project is a book on gender and politics in the novels of the Spanish avant-garde. In the 1920s and 1930s male and female avant-garde artists in Spain used the concept of Woman as fantasy, muse, myth or metaphor to work out their desire for aesthetic and political change. I focus on avant-garde prose in Spain between 1925 and 1936 with the purpose of understanding why these works consistently depict a struggle between a rebellious male creator and a number of highly feminized institutions and allegories.

Areas of Specialization

  • Contemporary Spanish Peninsular Film, Literature and Cultural Studies
  • Urban Studies, Cultural Geography and Spatial Theory
  • Theories of Representation
  • The Historical Avant-Garde 

Editorial Experience

Hispanic Urban Studies 
Palgrave-Macmillan Book Series
Co-Editor (with Benjamin Fraser) 

Romance Quarterly
Associate Editor

Arizona Journal of Hispanic Cultural Studies 
Managing Editor (1997-2009)

Current Doctoral Students

Camille Bigelow
Brian Cole
Joshua Hoekstra
Francesco Masala
Lucía Montás
Jesús María Pérez Sánchez
Naiara Porras Rentero
Allison Santos Martin
Matthew J. Wild

Selected Publications: 

Recent Articles and Book Chapters

  • "'Cinegrafía' and the Abject in Federico García Lorca's Viaje a la luna (1930)." Romance Quarterly 58.4 (2011): 302-15.

  • “Nueva Lente, Kracauer, and the Historical Avant-Garde." Hispanic Issues On Line Debates 3 (2011): 74–90.

  • "The Spatial Fix: Censorship, Public Housing and the Altered Meanings of José Antonio Nieves Condes's El inquilino." In Capital Inscriptions: Essays on Literature, Film and Urban Space in Honor of Malcolm Alan Compitello. Newark: Juan de la Cuesta (2012): 123-136.

  • "Urbanism, Architecture and la Movida madrileña." In Back to the Future: Towards a Cultural Archive of la Movida. Ed. H. Rosi Song and William Nichols. Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2013. 181-201.

  • “Hacia una geografía cultural urbana: Madrid 1925-1936.” Revista Arte y Ciudad Número Extraordinario 3.1 (2013): 59-78. Actas del V Jornadas Internacionales de Investigación Arte y Ciudad Grupo Arte, Arquitectura y Comunicación en la Ciudad Contemporánea. 

  • “Notes on the Renegotiation of a Hispanic Studies Canon.” Co-authored with Malcolm Compitello and Benjamin Fraser. ADFL Bulletin 43.1 (2014). In press.

  • "The Spanish Avant-Garde Novel: New Concepts of Aesthetic and Social Engagament." In A History of the Spanish Novel. Ed. J.G. Ardila. Oxford University Press, 2014. Forthcoming.
  • "Cultivating the Square: Trash, Recycling and the Cultural Ecology of Post-Crisis Madrid." Co-authored with Matthew I. Feinberg. Hispanic Issues On-Line Debates 6 (2013). Forthcoming.
  • “La gramática de la ‘Hispanidad’: Retórica de imperio y arquitectura historicista en los discursos públicos de J.C. Nichols.” Bulletin d'Histoire Contemporaine de l'Espagne. Spring 2014. Forthcoming.

Critical Editions

  • Quiero vivir mi vidaEdition of the 1931 Carmen de Burgos novel. Stockcero, 2009.
  • La rampaEdition of the 1917 Carmen de Burgos novel. Stockcero, 2006.

Recent Invited Lectures

  • “Art for Art’s Sake” or “Art for Life”?: José Ortega y Gasset, José Díaz Fernández and the Cultural Politics of 1920s and 1930s Spain.” Ohio State University Department of Spanish and Portuguese.  May 6, 2011.
  • “Constructing and Resisting Modernity in Early Spanish Film.” University of Kansas Hall Center for the Humanities. March 17, 2011.
  • “New Directions in Spanish Cultural Studies.” University of Wisconsin Department of Spanish and Portuguese. October 25, 2011.
  • "Hacia una geografia cultural urbana. Madrid 1900-1936." V Actas de Arte y Ciudad. Universisidad Complutense de Madrid, November 12, 2012.
  • "The Spatial Politics of Spanish Cultural Studies." The University of Arizona Department of Spanish and Portuguese, April 3, 2013.

Organized Symposium

  • Science and Technology in Spanish Culture from 1900 to 1936, March 3, 2011.
    Click to watch the Symposium via Adobe Connect HERE, HERE and HERE.


Toward an Urban Cultural Studies: Henri Lefebvre, Space and Cultural Production

Professor Benjamin Fraser of the College of Charleston spoke to a group of around 60 University of Kentucky faculty and students from a wide variety of disciplines on September 12 about his research. His lecture was filmed and can be seen HERE.

His position was that given the increased dialogue across Geography and the Humanities, the work of Henri Lefebvre offers a way forward for interdisciplinary scholarship centered on the city. Taxi driver, intellectual godfather of 1968, urban revolutionary, Marxist philosopher, spatial theorist, critic of everyday life, cultural critic, and even pedagogue—Lefebvre articulates an urban thinking that changes how we approach cities and urbanized consciousness in (graphic) novels, films, music, videogames and more.

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