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"Literature opens a door that allows us to understand what the family is and how it is configured in our century or in past centuries."

Interview Rocio Davis, Professor of English Literature and member of the committee of experts of the workshop Interdisciplinary on the Family.

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PHOTO: Manuel Castells
29/01/15 15:13 Carlota Cortes

Rocio G. Davis, professor of English Literature at the University of Navarra and researcher at project 'Emotional culture and dientity', is a member of the committee of experts in the workshop interdisciplinary 'Family and society in the 21st century', which coordinates the 'Family and society in the 21st century' project.which is coordinated by the Institute for Culture and Society on the initiative of Office of the Vice President for Research. In this interview he discusses some issues related to family relationships and literature.

How does literature relate to the institution of the family?

Literature is a reflection of the world: it shows us how we want to see it, how we imagine it or how it really is. In addition, it reveals the author's conception of the family, the person...

Literature opens a door that allows us to understand what the family is and how it is configured in our century or in past centuries. Ultimately, this is because literature is made up of stories and writers tell stories about how we are, who we are and what we want to be.

What topics related to the family can be interesting to investigate from literature?

When we talk about literature we talk about representations. These are based on realities; literature picks up on that, which serves us as model. People see the family represented in one way or another in literature or even in the cinema or on television. And we learn from all of this: those of us who study literature can reflect on this game of representation and modeling and reach conclusions about how the family is configured today and how writers think it should be. Literature is a privileged source of what man is, human nature.

Does literature reflect the great challenges of the family?

Absolutely. One of the challenges is how a family is configured, how are the relationships within it. Undoubtedly, from the last century to this one, the definition of what a family is has changed. We live in a much more changing world. Before, almost everybody lived in the place where their grandparents were born, whereas now our world is globalized, so the definition of what a family is has changed.

For example, there are many more single mothers or unmarried couples and all these changes affect how the family is understood, which in turn is very clearly reflected in literature and in any fictional representation. And these models shape how we understand the family and project how they should be. 

What are the advantages of workshop being interdisciplinary?

It allows us to analyze the family's topic from different perspectives, which enriches the experience. A workshop like this is a beginning and will lead us to see the lines of research for the future. It is an invitation to reflect, the beginning of a larger project .


Rocio G. Davis holds a Bachelor of Arts in Literature from the Ateneo de Manila University, a Master's Degree from the high school of Liberal Arts of the University of Navarra and a PhD in Philology from the campus pamplonés. In 2010 she received the accreditation from the National Agency for Assessment of Quality and Accreditation as Professor of English Philology .

At the University of Navarra she has been director of area of Modern Languages and high school of Liberal Arts, and deputy director of department of Hispanic Linguistics and Modern Languages. She has also been a visiting professor at the University of Illinoisin Chicago.

His areas of research focus on Asian American writing, autobiography and history, postcolonialism and children's literature. He has published a hundred articles in international journals and has lectured at universities in California, Texas, Geneva, Yonsei, New Hampshire, British Columbia, etc.