Ellen Mayock


Throughout her writing career Julia Alvarez has been examining definitions of the “Americas” and rethinking conceptualizations of the nation. Her multiperspectivist literary works have given voice to women of the Dominican Republic, Haiti, the United States, and to those who, as Alvarez says, “shift from foot to foot.” This article looks at Alvarez’s recent activism along the Haiti-Dominican Republic border and calls upon Alvarez’s In the Time of the Butterflies (1994) to establish how the author uses the feminist and activist transgressions of the Mirabal sisters to speak against the Dominican legacy of anti-Haitian sentiment and political action, so firmly entrenched by Rafael Trujillo and by subsequent Dominican leaders. It then examines Alvarez’s travel memoir, A Wedding in Haiti (2012), to analyze how she uses memoir as her own testimonio of the possibility of redefined relationships across Hispaniola’s national borders. These relationships eschew masculinist, dictatorial, and anti-Haitian vitriol and embrace person-to-person encounters and grass-roots activism, core elements of Alvarez’s notion of comunidad.

Author Biography

Ellen Mayock is the Ernest Williams II Professor of Spanish at Washington and Lee University. Professor Mayock has published a book-length study on Spanish women writers (University Press of the South, 2004), a translation of a one-act play (by Professor Christopher Gavaler, 2008) titled “Man Woman Hombre Mujer,” and over 30 articles on Spanish, Latin American, and U.S.-Latin literature. Mayock is also the co-editor (with Professor Domnica Radulescu) of Feminist Activism in Academia (McFarland, 2010), (with Professor Ana Corbalán) of Toward a Multicultural Configuration of Spain. Local Cities, Global Spaces (Fairleigh Dickinson, 2014), and (with Professor Karla Zepeda) of Forging a Rewarding Career in the Humanities (Sense, 2014). Several of her poems in Spanish have been published in Letras Femeninas (Fall 2012, and Winter 2013) and the Casa de los Poetas 2014 anthology. Her poem “What They Do With Complainers” has just been published in the Lost Horse Press anthology titled Raising Lilly Ledbetter.