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Course: Tangier in Spanish literature 

From July 26, 2018 until October 08, 2018See schedule.
Casa Árabe headquarters (at Calle Alcalá, 62). See schedule. The price of this course is 8 euros.
In Spanish.

Rocío Rojas-Marcos has organized this seminar, a historical overview that will be held in two Thursday sessions taking place on October 18 and 25. You may now sign up.

Throughout time, the unique history of Tangier has evoked very different sensations among those travelers who have called in at its port. Tangiers as a pretext, as a leitmotif to speak about memory, solitude, freedom or melancholy, without setting aside the first times it appeared in Spanish literature, when Tangiers was the nearest possible representation of “otherness.” For centuries, the “White City” has produced an outstanding amount of literature for just one single city. The mythical aura of Tangiers seems to be boundless, and even the year of 2017 ended with three Spanish novels devoted to the city on the Straits of Gibraltar: Limones negros (Black Lemons), Eva and Niebla en Tánger (Fog in Tangiers). Three novels, three quite different authors and three even more diverse “Tangiers,” because there are as many “Tangiers” as there are people there, and every writer can choose his or her own when giving it form in literature.

Given this state of affairs, the sessions I plan to give will provide an approach to literature about the city of Tangier. Who has written about it, what city has been chosen by each author, and how in the end has the city imposed itself upon all of these writers to continue surviving above and beyond literary fashions and artistic movements. Tangier’s skin gets shed like that of a venomous snake which thus continues slithering along through its own history, though many writers seem to be bent on taking photographs of the city in the form of words to create a still image of it.

The course has been organized in the form of two sessions, to be held on the dates of Thursday, October 18 and 25, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Casa Árabe headquarters in Madrid. The registration period will remain open until October 8. To sign up, you must click on the button “Buy Tickets” at the bottom of this page (the entrance fee, with a price of 8 euros, is shown as being for October 18, but this is the full price for the two sessions together). The first ten to register will be given a free ticket to see one of the films in the film series “Tangier, Myth and Reality” to be shown at Casa Árabe from September 28 to October 26.
Course: Tangier in Spanish literature 
Entrance to the Petit Socco in Tangier. The Ricardo J. Barceló Archive
The price of this course is 8 euros.

The deadline to sign up is October 8. The first ten people to register will be given a free ticket to see one of the films in the film series “Tangier, Myth and Reality” to be shown at Casa Árabe from September 28 to October 26. 
First Session: Thursday, October 18

6:30-8:30 p.m. The City Throughout Time
During this first session of the seminar, we will be taking a sweeping historical look through literature in search of those occasions on which Tangier has been portrayed as the city across the sea, a refuge for infidels and hideout for bandits. To do so, we will hear a presentation by Professor Bernabé López García, who will analyze for us the city’s Orientalist idealization, the representation of it by writers such as Rubén Darío and Pío Baroja, until culminating with all of the literature created in the novels by unique Tangier writer Ángel Vázquez.

A translator from Tangier, Malika Embarek (National Award for a Work by a Translator in 2017) will be sharing with us the vantage point which translation provides her to help us approach the works of Tahar ben Jelloun and the many different Tangiers that she has encountered and been able to compare.

Writer Cristina López Barrio, a finalist for the Planeta Award with her novel Niebla en Tánger (Fog in Tangier), will be explaining her vision of the city as a writer. What is it about the city of Tangier that has attracted so many writers across time? Why does this attraction seem so limitless, as well as seeming to undergo a further renaissance right now?

6:30-7:30 p.m. Bernabé López García: Smoke and Stubble in Tangier
The viewpoints of Tangier as seen by travelers, writers, consuls, journalists and soldiers from the time it was a diplomatic city in nineteenth-century Morocco and an international city in the first half of the twentieth century to an ignored city in the second half of the last century, have given way to a resurrection of its mythical status in the twenty-first century. Reviewing this sequence of viewpoints on Tangier will allow us to reconstruct a literary history of the city on the Straits of Gibraltar.

7:30-8:00 p.m. Malika Embarek: Translating Tangier: A journey through places and words
Through works by Tahar Ben Jelloun and Mohamed Choukri, she will briefly discuss her experience translating the city, as it was seen, felt and written by each of the two writers.

8:00-8:30 p.m. Cristina López Barrio: Tangier, a Limitless Source in Literature
All of the writers who have devoted some work to the White City have made it their own somehow. They choose one face of this fickle, chameleon-like city which is capable of transforming itself a thousand and one times to become a constant source of inspiration. What has made it so unique throughout history? What is possessed by this paradise lost, a geographic frontier and border between reality, fantasy and dreams?

Second session: Thursday, October 18

6:30-8:30 p.m. Nostalgia for a Unique City
After independence and Tangier’s inclusion within the Kingdom of Morocco, the diaspora spread Tangier’s people around half of the world. The literature which then arose out of inspiration from Tangier is thus riddled with melancholy. It is an anachronistic narrative, in the words of Professor Goñi Pérez, with Tangier taking on the role of paradise lost. The authors of the time were attempting to write to keep from forgetting.

During this session, we will hear the perspectives of two writers from Tangier: Ramón Buenaventura and Farid Othman-Bentria. Each of them has experienced a different Tangier. They write about the same city but from the distance that time and their own vantage points confer. Therefore, Ramón Buenaventura, whose characters, with León Aulaga first and foremost, allow us to read about a Tangier of rock-and-roll and essential youth, to grow more familiar with that facet of the city, the golden era of nostalgia and displaced memory that have helped build upon Tangier’s mythical status. This myth is of such a unique strength that is seems never to be depleted.

More than half a century has gone by now since the city ceased to hold its international status, but its magnetism indisputably continues to attract a large number of writers and visitors who must track down these marks left behind from the past for themselves, so fascinating to so many throughout history. Thus, in the eighteen years of the twenty-first century that have already elapsed, we have seen a wide range of works published that take up the city of Tangier as a subject, setting and main character in their storytelling. This is the aspect that Othman-Bentria will be dealing with. The new city that has risen again, with its renewed cultural life and the importance that Tangier should hold as a bridge uniting the two shores of the Straits of Gibraltar.

6:30-7:00 p.m. Ramón Buenaventura: I was born in a city that no longer exists
Buenaventura will talk about his adolescence in the International City of Tangier, in the 1950’s, as History was setting the stage for the end of paradise.

7:00-7:30 Farid Othman-Bentria Ramos: Tangier, the awakening and the sea mist
As if it were a city mesmerized by its own self, Tangier’s character is based on its constant  evolution, changing to remain the same, becoming a phoenix that threatens both to be reborn and to die again. It continues to rack up decades past through which we can travel back in time, gathering more light to draw in its lovers and further time to show us how to write.

8:00-8:30 p.m. The closing session for the course will be given by Rocío Rojas-Marcos.
Bernabé López García
López García is a professor of the History of Contemporary Islam at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (UAM) and has been the coordinator of the PhD program in International Mediterranean Studies. He is an expert on the contemporary history of Islam, electoral processes in the Maghreb region, Euro-Mediterranean relations and the history of Spanish Arabism. Amongst the numerous publications in his field of specialization are Historia y memoria de las relaciones hispano-marroquíes (History and Memory of Spanish-Moroccan Relations) and Marruecos y España, una historia contra toda lógica (Morocco and Spain: A history that defies logic). Orientalismo e ideología colonial en el arabismo español (1840-1917) (Orientalism and Colonial Ideology in Spanish Arabism [1840-1917]). He recently edited Tánger 1916-1924. Radiografía de la ciudad del Estrecho en vísperas del Estatuto (Tangiers 1916-1925: A snapshot of the city on the Strait on the eve of the Statute).

Malika Embarek
Malika Embarek López has a degree in Spanish Philology from the Université Mohamed V in Rabat. She is a technical translator and official translator of French, though her true calling is the literary translation of texts which are culturally mixed, like her own life path.  With approximately 70 translated works, she mainly devotes her time to translating North African literature written in French (Tahar Ben Jelloun, Edmond Amran El Maleh, etc.), and, in collaboration with other translators, she has also translated works by Moroccan authors who write in Arabic (Mohamed Choukri, Abdellah Laroui and Rachid Nini). Her latest published translations include: Sexo y mentiras, la vida sexual en Marruecos (Sex and Lies: Sex Life in Morocco) and Canción dulce (Sweet Song) by Leila Slimani; Zoco Chico, by Mohamed Chukri, in collaboration with Karima Hajjaj; El islam que da miedo (The Islam That Strikes Fear) and El castigo (The Punishment) by Tahar Ben Jelloun. In November of 2015, she was given the International Gerardo de Cremona Translation Award, and in 2017, Spain’s National Award for the full body of work by a Translator.

Cristina López Barrio
Born in Madrid, López Barrio was a practicing lawyer for thirteen years, specializing in intellectual property. After winning the Villa Pozuelo de Alarcón Award for Youth Novels in 2009, with her work El hombre que se mareaba con la rotación de la Tierra (The Man Who Got Dizzy from the Earth’s Rotation), and the publication of her novel La casa de los amores imposibles (The House of Impossible Loves), she left her career as a lawyer to devote herself fully to writing. This novel has been translated into fifteen languages and published in twenty-two countries. She has also had a book of short stories published with the title El reloj del mundo (The Clock of the World) and the novels El cielo en un infierno cabe (Heaven Fits in a Hell) and Tierra de brumas (Land of Sea Mist). In October of 2017, she became a finalist for the Planeta Literary Award with her novel Niebla en Tánger (Fog in Tangier).

Ramón Buenaventura
Born in Tangier on June 25, 1940, Buenaventura is a literary translator and professor. A prolific author, his series of Tangier novels attempt to keep the memory of his city alive. From El año que viene en Tánger (Next Year in Tangier) to NWTY, he offers us his own view of the city which he was forced to leave. He has received many awards throughout his life, including the Miguel Labordeta Poetry Award, for Eres (You Are), in 1988; the Ramón Gómez de la Serna Award given by the city of Madrid, for the best novel in the Spanish language published in 1998, El año que viene en Tánger (Next Year in Tangier); the Stendhal Award for the best translation from French, published in 2002,, for  La sangre negra/Le Sang noir (Black Blood), by Louis Guilloux; the Fernando Quiñones Novel Award of 2004, for El último negro and the National Award for a Work by a Translator in 2016.

Farid Othman-Bentria Ramos
Born in Tangier (1979) to a family proud of its interculturalism, Othman-Bentria was educated in Political Science and Sociology at the University of Granada. A poet for his entire life and very culturally concerned, he is the director of the International Foundation for Human Rights (FIDH), as well as the coordinator of the PSOE’s MEDINA Group, as well as belonging to other associations. Some of his most notable publications include Mare Incógnita. Cartografía poética (2018) and Un viento de madera (A Wooden Wind) (2014), a book in which he combines poems and photography, as well as the poetry anthology Estrecheños (2016).

Rocío Rojas-Marcos
Born in Seville in 1979, she has a PhD in Literature and Aesthetics in the Information Society (University of Seville, 2017), a Master’s degree in Creative Writing and a bachelor’s degree in Arab and Islamic Studies (2003). Some of her most notable publications include: Tánger ciudad internacional (Tangier, International City), Sanz de Soto and Buñuel. La tercera España transfretana (Sanz de Soto and Buñuel: The third Spain Beyond the Straits) and Carmen Laforet en Tánger (Carmen Laforet in Tangiers). She is the creator of the course “Tangier in Spanish Literature: A historical journey up to today” for Casa Árabe.