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Volume 1 | 2003


Peace in the Valley:
A National-Political Interpretation of King Ottocar's Rise and Fall

Donald Backman

It has been said that Franz Grillparzer understood very little about politics. In spite of what he might have said to the public, his King Ottocar's Rise and Fall was more than just a play depicting past events in the nation of Austria. It was a thinly disguised depiction of Napoleon and the nation to come... Full Article>

The Labyrinth of Detection

Amie Pascal-Joiner

In reaction to reader-satisfying detective fiction, some modernist writers, such as Paul Auster and Jorge Luis Borges, developed "anti-detective" fiction, which is void of the traditional reader satisfaction and in which the detective fails to solve the crime that the author has presented. Both of these authors use the quest of the detective to show the labyrinths of tragic human intellect and the futility of a search for the Truth... Full Article>


Rigoberta through the Eyes of Malcolm

Andrew Oetzel

How does one teach students about Rigoberta Menchú, why she is important enough to have a room on the second floor of the Student Union at San Francisco State University named after her, be painted in prominence on the mural on the side of the San Francisco Women's Building, and have won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992? The answer is found by looking east to Malcolm X plaza, the preferred venue for student protests of all sorts...   Full Article>


Things Folklore:
A Translation of Shuji Terayama's Poem
"Jibutsu no fukuroa"

Jun Kurihara

It would be easy to read "Jibutsu no fukuroa" ("Things Folklore") in the context of the worldwide revolutionary mood of the 1960's. In fact, Terayama later wrote a play, Chi wa tatta mama nemutte iru (Blood Sleeps Standing Upright), which is about two young revolutionists, based on the first stanza of this poem. However, the uniqueness of this poem should be found in Terayama's preference for surrealist poetry... Full Article>

Wolfram von Eschenbach's Voice of Mercy During the Merciless Age of the Crusades

Karina Marie Ash

Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival and Willehalm idealize the transformative power of mercy during an age when crusade propaganda promoted the redemptive power of merciless slaughter. Although they are secular works of literature, both narratives depict a theme of mercy that leads to peace and reconciliation... Full Article>


The Birth of the Afro-Cuban Identity Through Cuban Literature

Aimée Reed

Afrocubanos have contributed greatly to the establishment of Cuba's identity and the gain of its independence. Through the study of Cuban writings and authors, we see that a lineage of evolution of the black Cuban subject exists: slave, freedom fighter, national icon, and finally one of the clearest voices to comment on the progression of culture and society on the island... Full Article>


Editors' Note

We, the editors of Portals: A Journal in Comparative Literature, would like to thank you for allowing us to share our thoughts with you, the reader. We hoped to bring to you a sample of what we might consider "Comparative Literature." These essays will have nothing in common except that they cross the boundaries that National Literature departments have put on them, and so have found a safe and happy haven here in the Comparative Literature Department at San Francisco State University.

The theme of this volume, Untied Tongues: Alternate Voices in Comparative Literature, reflects the type of essays we wanted to include. We wanted to focus on literary voices not heard in classical "Canonical" literature. These voices reflect the wide range of interests in our department, from the Caribbean to Germany, giving words to characters and authors previously neglected.

Our vision was to create a doorway, a Portal from our department to the outside community. As students at San Francisco State, we feel that it is our duty to throw open the gates and let you share in our world. From here, the threshold of this door, we welcome you to cross over and peek into the inner sanctum of our department.

Brandace Kling, Editor-in-Chief
Amie Pascal-Joiner, Editor-in-Chief
Allie Greene, Chairperson

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