Foreign language professor turns heads and pages with book publication

Priscilla Bonilla, Correspondent

Wilkes University’s Spanish 398: Culture Through Literature class is using Paola Bianco Sobejano’s recent publication of her book, “Conversando con Literatura” (Conversing with Literature), to discuss universal topics and the Hispanic culture.

“I think it has been very beneficial to us because it exposes us to many different topics and we are able to interact with the author who put everything together,” Ally Kristofco, a junior at Wilkes, said.

The book by Bianco Sobejano, associate professor of foreign languages at Wilkes University, contains 13 chapters. Each chapter is structured with a photo, an introduction section, a literary topic, text, short story, poem and a song or photograph relating to the chapter. The photo linked to each chapter allows the students to express their views about the photo.

The introductions are a combination of Bianco Sobejano’s research, which she conducted during her yearlong sabbatical, and her personal analysis. The literary works that follow the introductions are used as supporting evidence.

During the three-year span it took Bianco Sobejano to put together the book, she interviewed authors in Costa Rica and Chile. She also conducted research at Madrid’s national library, Cornell’s library and accessed interlibrary loans and other university resources.

“Conversando con Literatura” discuss topics like human rights, beauty and youth, memories of childhood and euthanasia.

The chapter, “Memories of Childhood,” has a psychological aspect to it, allowing the reader to analyze childhood memories from an elder’s perspective as well as a child’s.

“My favorite chapter so far has been Recuerdos de la Niñez (Memories of Childhood),” Kristofco said. “I found that chapter very interesting because as children we can’t wait to grow up and as we get older we wish we were young again.”

“Beauty and Youth,” another chapter, goes back to Plato and what he considered beauty to be. From Plato’s description, Bianco Sobejano analyzes beauty in relation to Cleopatra and the rubenesque figure. She then completes the introduction by touching on modern society’s perception of beauty and how it has led to eating disorders and plastic surgery.

Although the publication of the book took longer than Bianco Sobejano had anticipated, she said she is glad that it is finally complete and proud to be able to see it used within her very own classroom. “Conversando con Literatura” will be available for use in various American-Canadian universities.

“Wilkes University’s faculty is expected to engage in scholarship,” Linda Winkler, dean of the College of Liberal Arts, Humanities and Social Science, said. “It enriches the community.”

Winkler pointed out the importance of Bianco Sobejano’s active involvement within the Wilkes community. As coordinator of the study abroad program and faculty adviser of the Spanish club.

“Faculty’s scholarship beyond the classroom exposes students to liberal arts and things that excite us,” Winkler said.