Leslie Smith '02 is Moravian's fourth Fulbright scholarship
winner in as many years. She will go to the University of Madrid
in Spain in the fall to explore an era that Spaniards would prefer
to forget: the early years of the Franco regime.
I started, I didn't even know who Franco was," said
Smith. She graduated with Honors in Spanish for a paper called "The
Literary Portrayal of the Roles of Spanish Women in Four Post-Civil
War Novels," supervised by Carmen Ferrero-Pino, assistant
professor of Spanish and chair of the Foreign Language Department
this year. The paper became her Fulbright application.
did not come to college to study literature in any language. "I
came as an accounting major," she said. "But I thought
if I saw one more supply and demand curve..."
it was her dream to be fluent in a foreign language, and she had
studied Spanish in high school. "So I went into an honors
Spanish III class and I couldn't understand one word this
lady was saying," she admits. She had to drop it and go back,
taking a solid year of grammar to bolster her fluency.
the summer of 2000, she traveled to Mexico with a group led by instructor
Flor Maria Buitrago. "I was fascinated by how I was treated
as a woman," she said. "Appalled, actually." She
was disturbed by the machismo of Mexican men, the feeling of being
eyed and ogled, the comments made to her on the street. "I
felt like: What century am I in? I'm not even a person here."
experience, courses she took in women's studies, and her burgeoning
knowledge of Spanish history combined to create the topic of her
paper. She compared the protagonists of four novels written during
or about the Franco regime: The Back Room (1978) by Carmen Martín
Gaite, Time of the Doves (1962) by Mercè Rodoreda, Nada (1945)
by Carmen Laforet and The Hive (1951) by Camilo José Cela,
who won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1989.
when Smith went to Salamanca, Spain, on a research trip last summer,
she found Spanish women, whether rural or urban, peasant or academic,
reluctant to be interviewed about the Franco years. "The fact
that they wouldn't talk to me was an argument in itself,"
she said. She wrote her paper from the books themselves and from
academic criticism, but she was able to include almost no first-hand
accounts of being female during the '30s in Spain.
she found several references to a magazine for women called Y (in
Spanish, "and") edited and published by women of the
Phalange (Franco's right-wing party) from 1938 to 1945. No
library in North America, including the Library of Congress, has
this short-lived but influential journal. Smith's Fulbright
project is to explore Y, with the eventual goal of making it available
to English-speaking readers.
her Fulbright award, she says: "I'm excited. I'm
horrified. I'm frightened. But I'm mostly excited by
the person I'm going to be at the end of this nine months."