mission welcome people search network news calendar calendar
  Kelly Comfort
Assistant Professor
School of Modern Languages

Ph. D., University of California,, Davis, Comparative Literature
Joined faculty in 2005

Research areas/interests
Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Latin American Literature, Modernism, Hispanic Caribbean Literature, Critical Theory, and Transatlantic Studies.


Recipient of the 2010 “CETL/BP Junior Faculty Teaching Excellence Award.”
Nominated for the “Emerging Scholars in the Humanities Prize” from the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes
Outstanding Graduate Student Teacher Award
Teaching Assistant Consultant Program Fellow

Current and recent projects  
I recently published the book European Aestheticism and Spanish American Modernismo: Artists Protagonists and the Philosophy of Art for Art’s Sake (Palgrave MacMillan, May 2011, 192 pages), which examines the changing role of art and the artist during the turn-of-the-century period and considers the multiple dichotomies of art and life, aesthetics and economics, production and consumption, and center and periphery. Through a comparative study of fictional works from Baudelaire, Wilde, Huysmans, and Mann in the European context and Darío, Silva, Casal, and Gutiérrez Nájera in the Spanish American context, this transatlantic investigation locates a shared interest in the philosophy of “art for art’s sake” in both aestheticism and modernismo. The analysis of the aims and attitudes of different types of artist protagonists considers the intersection between the artist figure and the impressionistic and creative critic (chapters 1 and 2), the producers and consumers of art (chapters 3 and 4), and the aesthete, the dandy, and the flâneur (chapters 5 and 6). It also outlines the ways in which the artist figures avoid “art for life’s sake” (Part I), protest “art for the market’s sake” (Part II), or promote “life for art’s sake” (Part III).

The book’s sixth chapter, “The Artist as Dandy-Flâneur, the World as Art in Manuel Gutiérrez Nájera and Julián de Casal” will serve as the basis for a future monograph that considers the turn-of-the-century figures of the dandy and flâneur in the Spanish American literary context in these two authors as well as Rubén Darío, José Asunción Silva, and Eugenio Cambaceres.

I am also preparing a manuscript for a book entitled Self-Exile in Cuban Literature: The Escape to Inner or Imagined Islands of Acceptance, Hybridity, and Freedom. This monograph locates a recurring process of self-exile into inner or imagined islands as the selected literary protagonists consciously create and willingly take refuge in alternative insular spaces. It is nonetheless significant that in each instance this occurs only at the personal or interpersonal level, and not at the national or political level, a shortcoming that reflects the impossibility or difficulty of overcoming the injustices and inequalities depicted, or at least their direct causes: colonialism, slavery, racism, imperialism, Castroism, communism, religious intolerance, homophobia, etc. This book treats five primary texts: Gómez de Avellaneda’s Sab, José Martí’s “La muñeca negra,” Alejo Carpentier’s El reino de este mundo, Reinaldo Arenas’ Arturo, la estrella más brillante, and Senel Paz’s “El lobo, el bosque y el hombre nuevo.”

Recent and selected publications  
European Aestheticism and Spanish American Modernismo: Artist Protagonists and the Philosophy of Art for Art’s Sake. Hampshire, U.K. and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.

“The Artist as Impressionistic Critic in José Asunción Silva’s De sobremesa: Transatlantic Borrowings from Walter Pater, Oscar Wilde, and British Aestheticism.” Revista de Estudios Colombianos. 38 (2011). (Forthcoming)

“The Clash of the Foreign and the Local in Martí and Carpentier: From ‘Misplaced Ideas’ to ‘Trasculturation.’” Hipertexto. 11 (2010) 51-62.

“Masculinidad rechazada: El artista recluído y no productivo en Rubén Darío y José Asunción Silva.” Latin American Literary Review. 37.73 (2009) 26-46. (Reprinted as a book chapter in Entre hombres: masculinidades del siglo XIX en América Latina. Eds. Ana Peluffo and Ignacio M. Sánchez Prado. Madrid: Iberoamericana Editorial Vervuert. 2010.)

Editor. Art and Life in Aestheticism: De-Humanizing and Re-Humanizing Art, the Artist, and the Artistic Receptor. Hampshire, U.K. and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008.

Introduction. “Reflections on the Relationship between Art and Life in Aestheticism.” Art and Life in Aestheticism: De-Humanizing and Re-Humanizing Art, the Artist, and the Artistic Receptor. Hampshire, U.K. and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008: 1-21.

“The Critic as Artist and Liar: The Reuse and Abuse of Plato and Aristotle by Wilde.” The Wildean: A Journal of Oscar Wilde Studies, 32: 2008, 57-70.

“Art for the Artist’s Sake or Artist for Sale: Lulu’s and Else’s Failed Attempts at Aesthetic Self Fashioning.” Women in German Yearbook: Feminist Studies in German Literature and Culture, 22: 2006, 189-210.

“Colonial Others as Cuba’s Protonational Subjects: The Privileged Space of Women, Slaves and Natives in Gómez de Avellaneda’s Sab.” MESTER: Journal of Spanish and Portuguese Studies, 2003. 179-194.

Review. José Asunción Silva y la ciudad letrada, by José Jesús Osorio. Bulletin of Hispanic Studies. Volume 85, Issue 3, 2008: 230-231.