Department of Modern Languages and Comparative Literature
Latin American and Caribbean Program Lectures and Cultural Events 2008 - 2009
First Annual Paul AndrÉ Feit Memorial Lecture by Prof. Alberto Sandoval
From left to right: Waleska Santiago; Elena Martínez; Alberto Sandoval; and Hedwig Feit
March 10, 2009 –– Before a packed and appreciative audience in a room high atop Baruch’s Vertical Campus, Dr. Alberto Sandoval of Mount Holyoke College spoke very movingly about a 19th-century Puerto Rican artistic masterpiece, El Velorio, which depicts the wake of a small child in the sort of rustic shack known as a bohío deep in the Puerto Rican countryside.
The occasion was the inauguration of the Paul André Feit Memorial Lecture, an annual series on aspects of Hispanic culture that has been made possible by a generous grant from the Paul André Feit Memorial Fund.
Introductory remarks were made by Weissman School of Arts and Sciences Dean Jeffrey Peck and Modern Languages Department Chair Elena Martínez, who introduced Professor Sandoval. Then María Montalvo, who benefited from two Feit seminars while a student at Baruch and has now returned as an instructor in the Modern Languages program, presented Hedy Feit, a Baruch professor and the mother of Paul André Feit, with a large bouquet of roses, in a heartfelt gestures of gratitude for the Feit family’s longtime commitment to Baruch.
Among those in attendance at the lecture were former Weissman Dean Myrna Chase and Professor Paula Berggren, of Baruch’s Great Works program.
Professor Sandoval kept the audience enthralled with his rich and provocative reading of the famous painting by Francisco Oller (1833-1917), which he contextualized in a variety of ways. His presentation, which was accompanied by a number of slides, drew on the influence of the French Impressionists— with whom Oller worked during his lengthy stays in France; the décor of contemporary Puerto Rican funeral homes, which led him to consider the meaning that the painting has in Puerto Rico today, in contrast to the meaning it had for Oller when he painted it; and a recent highly politicized reworking of the imagery of El Velorio by an anonymous artist which has emerged in the Puerto Rican diaspora in the Northeastern U.S.
The lecture was followed by an extensive question and answer series in which many of the Baruch undergraduates in attendance questioned Professor Sandoval further about aspects of his talk.