AUTORES DE LA COLECCIÓN \\ Harrington, Thomas S.

Thomas S. Harrington

Three decades back, when people like him, graduating from universities such as the one he had studied at, headed to Wall Street in droves, Tom Harrington heard his insides scream “no” and headed to Spain without much of plan. Then it was on to similarly open-ended looks at late-Communist Poland and revolutionary Nicaragua. After a time spent painting houses, he finally settled in at a private school near Boston to teach in his degree areas of History and English and to coach ice hockey and baseball. When the Spanish teacher there became too pregnant to carry on during the Spring semester, the headmaster sent out desperate cry for help among the staff. Remembering the agreeable sensations of his earlier trip to the Peninsula—while conveniently forgetting that four years of high school Spanish were not a terribly good basis for teaching the language to kids only five or so years younger than he—he raised his hand and stepped in to the breach. At the end of the year, his valor was rewarded by and all-expenses paid trip to an intensive language course in Spain. His superiors figured it might actually be good for him to actually learn what he had just supposedly taught to his students. That summer, a lifelong vocation was born. The only way he could see to continue engaging with Iberia and its cultures while earning a salary was to become an academic. And so it was. But while he found the calm and collected wisdom of libraries appealing, he soon developed a healthy fear—which he maintains to this day—of their ability to steal much of the magic he had found in hearing, smelling and touching other cultures. To really know what he wanted to know, frequent escapes would be necessary. And miraculously they came; six months spent sailing around the Iberian Peninsula, summers in Lisbon, two years in Santiago, several long residencies in Uruguay, and for the last fifteen years something like a third of life spent in Catalonia. He is still the same American guy who coached ice hockey and baseball. But all that time spent trying understand how “architectures of cultural meaning” generated in other places has made it increasingly impossible for him to passively accept—as is increasingly the social, and yes, even academic expectation—the core verity of such discursive structures in the land of his birth. Livin’ la Vida Barroca seeks to apply the lessons learned in half a life of analyzing the contemporary realities of Iberia, to the imperial culture of today’s USA.

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