Edgar Illas | Faculty
Director of Catalan
Assistant Professor, Department of Spanish and Portuguese
Office: Ballantine Hall 875
Ph.D., 2007, Duke University
B.A., 1999, Universitat AutÚnoma de Barcelona
- Contemporary Catalan and Spanish Culture
- Theories of Architecture
- Post-Marxism and Deconstruction
- Thinking Barcelona. Ideologies of a Global City. Liverpool University Press, 2012.
- “Pleasure against Ideology in Gabriel Ferrater.” Hispanic Review 80.3 (2012): 467-84.
- “Sketches of Contemporary Labor.” Discourse. Journal for Theoretical Studies in Media and Culture 33.1 (2011): 55-74.
- "On Universalist Particularism: the Catalans and the Jews." Journal of Spanish Cultural Studies. 12.1 (2011): 77-94.
- "Liberalisme i independentisme, o l'esperit treballador català." Catalan Review 24 (2010): 387-400.
- "The Great Novel of Barcelona." The Colorado Review of Hispanic Studies 6 (2008): 167-82.
- “Short Stories against Barcelona’s Urban Transformation.” Transtext(e)s Transcultures. Journal of Global Cultural Studies 3 (2007): 84-97. (http://transtexts.revues.org/142)
- “Visca la mort del català! Una proposta modesta per a les llengües minoritàries.” Dissidences. Hispanic Journal of Theory and Criticism. On line. Internet: 15/09/05 (http://www.dissidences.org/MortDelCatala.html).
- “Marià Vayreda: el carlisme reciclat i l’inconscient català.” El Contemporani13 (2004): 27-32. (Spanish version: “Marià Vayreda: el carlismo reciclado y el inconsciente catalán.” Res publica. Revista de filosofía política 13-14 (2004): 87-96.)
- El gel de bany sobre l’esponja(novel) (Barcelona: Columna, 2003). Literary Prize Finalist, “La primera columna.”
Honors and Awards
- New Frontiers in the Arts and Humanities, Office of the Vice Provost for Research, Indiana University (2012)
- Emergency Grant-in-Aid, Indiana University (2012)
- Travel Research Grant, College of Arts & Humanities Institute, Indiana University (2011).
- Summer Curriculum Development Grant, West European Studies, Indiana University (2010).
- West European Studies Conference Travel Grant (2010, 2011, 2012).
- Bass Instructorship, Graduate School, Duke University (2006-07).
- “Premi Extraordinari,” 1st in Class of 1999, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
Current Research Projects
My first book, Thinking Barcelona. Ideologies of a Global City, explores the symbolic transformations that redefined Barcelona during the 1980s in preparation of the 1992 Olympic Games. I argue that these transformations were motivated by the need to adapt the city to a new economy based on tourism, finance services, and the cultural industry. The Olympic Games thus offered to the municipal government a double opportunity to launch Barcelona as a balanced combination of European cosmopolitanism and Mediterranean rootedness, and to establish an internal political consensus enhanced by the widespread euphoria that the concession of the Games generated among the citizens of Barcelona. I study the staging of this municipal “euphoric politics” in connection to the similarly exultant contexts of post-transitional Spain and post-Cold War globalization, and I argue that the 1992 Games were among the first global mega-events that celebrated the neoliberal “end of history.” My book examines three types of materials: the visual performances and main speeches of the Olympic ceremonies; the urban renewal of the city directed by architect Oriol Bohigas; and several fictional narratives by Quim Monzó, Francisco Casavella, and Eduardo Mendoza. I read these representative literary works of the new Barcelona as resisting in one way or another the official ideologies of the city and, without losing sight of their aesthetic singularity, I analyze the political significance of their resistances.
My second book project, Mapping Catalan Ideologies, examines some of the dominant narratives that have structured the social imaginary of modern Catalonia. While numerous studies have already analyzed the ideological problematics of Catalonia in terms of nationalism, my study investigates a set of related but different narratives that sometimes intersect with and sometimes deviate from the central political conflict between this nation and Spain. Through the examination of a variety of literary and political texts from the twentieth century, my project focuses on six foundational narratives: 1) the death of Catalan, or the anxiety produced by the supposedly imminent disappearance of the language; 2) Catalan philosemitism, or identification with the Jewish people, the construction of Israel, and the revitalization of Hebrew; 3) Catalan work ethic, or the premise that Catalans have survived as a cohesive collective thanks to their methodical accumulation of wealth; 4) Catalonia as city, or the conception of the region not as a stateless nation but as an entity articulated around Barcelona; 5) Catalan literature as national allegory, or the sense that literature is necessarily traversed by the country’s political problematic; and 6) landscape as motherland, or the identification of one’s most immediate surroundings as the real homeland.