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Muskingum University professor’s lecture featured at conference in Spain

Muskingum University Assistant Professor of Spanish Dr. Beth Butler presented a lecture at a conference held recently in Salamanca, Spain, and her insights were featured in the Spanish newspaper Todo Castilla y Leon. To see the article (in Spanish), click here.

The Conference on Detective Novel and Film, was themed “Crime without Borders.  Borders of Crime.”  Dr. Butler learned of the conference during a previous trip to Spain, and submitted an abstract to present her research there. 

Dr. Butler’s lecture focused on the work of Spanish author Jordi Sierra i Fabra and his novel, Las Chicas de Alambre (Wire Thin Girls), which is an adolescent novel of the “novela negra” genre.  The book critically examines the fashion industry and its negative influence on young, female models by investigating the disappearance of a fictional Spanish model who is anorexic.  The term “novela negra” refers broadly to what Americans would call a detective novel. 

Following the death of dictator Francisco Franco in 1975, the detective novel became a popular vehicle for examining the social issues of the dictatorship and that culture’s transition from that dictatorship.  Dr. Butler maintains that one of those issues is anorexia, which became a significant health concern and literary theme in Spain in the 1990s.

In her presentation, titled “Investigating anorexia in Las Chicas de Alambre: the use of detective fiction for social criticism,” Dr. Butler offered her analysis that the novel is another way of investigating and criticizing a world which promotes anorexia.

Dr. Butler joined the Muskingum University faculty in 2009.  She earned her doctoral degree from Florida State University.