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APSU’s Di Paolo Harrison looks at femicide for sixth scholarly book


CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – Last year, The Wall Street Journal published a disturbing article with the headline, “Women in Latin America Are Being Murdered at Record Rates.” In the piece, journalist Juan Forero explained that “Women die disproportionately at the hands of men throughout much of Latin America.” In Argentina, femicide – the murder of women by men because of the victim’s gender – is a regular topic on the evening news.

 “My mother watches the daily news on Argentine TV all the time, and every day she will come and say, ‘There’s another femicide and another femicide,’” Dr. Osvaldo Di Paolo Harrison, Austin Peay State University Spanish professor, said. “I said, ‘I’m going to look into this,’ and I found that in January 2019, a femicide was perpetrated in Argentina every 27 hours.”

These unsettling revelations sent Di Paolo Harrison – one of the top 10 literary critics of contemporary hardboiled fiction, according to the Argentine press – on a year-long journey through crime novels to see how these authors interpreted this chilling trend.

“I wanted to see it through the lens of literature, through detective fiction, which is the social novel of the 21st century and part of the 20th century,” he said.

Last month, Di Paolo Harrison published his sixth scholarly book, “Femicrímenes: Femicidios en la literatura del siglo XX y XXI (“Crimes Against Women: The Sexually Sadistic Killing of Women in Literature of the 20th and 21st Century”), which explores femicide from colonial times to the present day. From a literary perspective the book studies the fusion of femicide with experimental literature, French objectivism, the aesthetic of the absurd, the subversion of detective fiction, regionalist literature, journalism, the psychological novel and mystic literature.

 Di Paolo Harrison's new book

The book explores femicide and its relation with “women trafficking, the degradation of man in a psychopathic society, induced suicide, the Oedipus complex, repetition compulsion, fundamentalism, masculine supremacy, impunity of crimes” and the “corruption of the law and the crumbling of the social body and marital life.”

The book, written in Spanish, is co-authored by Fabian Mossello, a professor with The National University of Córdoba in Argentina.

In 2014, Di Paolo Harrison received Austin Peay’s Socrates Award for Excellence in Teaching and the University’s Richard M. Hawkins Award for significant contributions to scholarship. His previous book, “Queer Noir Hispanico,” examined homosexual detective characters who previously existed in the margins of the Hispanic world.

“‘Queer Noir Hispanico’ is a ground-breaking publication that constitutes a true contribution to the field of Hispanic Studies,” Dr. Daniel Torres, professor of Spanish and Latin American Studies at Ohio University, said. “It takes the genre of noir narrative in Latin America and Spain out of the closet.”

Di Paolo Harrison is also the author of “Noir Boricua: La novela negra de Puerto Rico,” “Negrótico,” “Gemidos y explosiones apocalípticas poshumanas: la novela negra y de ciencia ficción hispana del siglo XXI” and “Cadáveres en el armario: el policial palimpséstico en la literatura argentina contemporánea.”

More information on Di Paolo Harrison and his work is available at www.apsu.edu/directory/faculty/dipaoloo.  

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