Assistant Professor of Spanish and Hispanic Studies May Farnsworth recently served as a guest scholar at an academic symposium titled “The Brothel and the Factory: Staging Immigration and Women’s Labor.”
Held last month at Ohio State University (OSU), the symposium was organized in conjunction with the performances of two plays about women’s experiences with immigration: “Real Women Have Curves” by Josefina López, which is about Latinas and factory work in the U.S.; and “La casamentera” (Matchmaker) by Patricia Suárez, which tells the story of young Polish women on their way to Argentina.
“By participating in the symposium, I was able to connect these contemporary plays with first-wave feminist theatre in Latin America, adding a relevant historical dimension to the conversation,” explains Farnsworth, whose research looks at the connections between feminism, theatre and national identity at the turn of the 20th century in Latin America.
“More specifically, I contextualized Matchmaker and discussed how Suárez’s work upholds a tradition of feminist theatre in Argentina that began in the early 20th century. I described feminist theatre conventions in the 1910s and 1920s and discussed how Matchmaker ‘s portrayal of the domestic sphere and female characters compared with the melodramatic plays of her predecessors.”
Other guest scholars included Paola S. Hernández, an assistant professor of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Wisconsin, Madison; Isabel Molina-Guzmán, an associate professor of media and cinema studies and Latino/a studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; and Mary Romero, a sociology professor of justice studies and social inquiry at Arizona State University.
Farnsworth joined the HWS faculty in 2007. She teaches subjects related to gender construction, nation-building, and performance in Latin American literary culture. The author of several publications, including “‘La Eva mexicana’: Feminism in Post-Revolutionary Mexican Theater,” she studied in Buenos Aires, Argentina, as a Fulbright Scholar. Affiliated with Latin American Theater Today and the Spanish Honor Society, she has also worked as a medical interpreter, a translator and a language consultant. She received a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and Latin American studies from The Evergreen State College, and a master’s and Ph.D. in Spanish American literature from UNC-Chapel Hill.
The event was hosted by the OSU departments of theatre, Spanish and Portuguese, the Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee Theatre Research Institute, the Thompson Library, the Theatre Graduate Syndicate, and the Latino and Latin American Space for Enrichment and Research.
In the photo above, pictured are female immigrants at the turn of the twentieth century in Argentina.