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University of Iowa News Release


Feb. 9, 2007

Lecture At UI Museum Of Art Will Explore 'The Romance Of The Jungle' Feb. 22

Adriana Méndez-Rodenas, a professor in the University of Iowa Department of Spanish and Portuguese and director of Caribbean, Diaspora and Atlantic Studies, will present a lecture titled "Through the Green Threshold: 19th-Century Naturalists and the Romance of the Jungle" at 4 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 22, in the UI Museum of Art (UIMA).

The lecture, which is free and open to the public, is presented in conjunction with the exhibition "Picturing Eden," currently on view at the UIMA. An exhibition of 130 photographs by 37 contemporary artists, "Picturing Eden" explores how artists reinterpret and re-envision concepts of paradise.

Méndez will discuss 18th-century voyagers of scientific exploration, particularly Alexander von Humboldt and Aimé Bonpland's 1799-1804 expedition to discover the origins of the Orinoco River, which fostered the image of the rainforest as paradise.

"Humboldt's unique vision of New World nature of thick vegetation and luxuriant foliage conditions, to this day, representations of the Amazon region and its imaginary," Méndez said. "Humboldt's self-fashioning -- his bold embodiment of the Enlightenment explorer -- reverberates in the narrative persona and the personas with which 19th and 20th century writers grapple with the 'ultimate other,' which is nature."

Méndez has taught at the UI since 1985. A scholar specializing in 19th- and 20th-century Latin-American literature, Caribbean literature and feminist criticism and theory, she has published extensively in anthologies and scholarly journals, including Revista Iberoamericana, Cuban Studies and Revolución y cultura. She has received the National Literary Essay Prize of the Mexican Institute of Fine Arts.

Méndez's lecture is jointly sponsored by the UI Obermann-Stanley Fellow Program, International Programs, Interdisciplinary 18th and 19th Century Colloquium, 18th and 19th Century Fauna and Flora Series and the UIMA.

The Department of Spanish and Portuguese is part of the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Caribbean, Diaspora and Atlantic Studies is an interdisciplinary group of faculty and graduate students in UI International Programs.

The UI Museum of Art, located on North Riverside Drive in Iowa City, is open noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, and noon to 9 p.m. Thursday and Friday. Admission is free. Public metered parking is available in UI parking lots west and north of the museum.

For more information on the UI Museum of Art visit on the World Wide Web.

For UI arts information and calendar updates, visit To receive UI arts news by e-mail, go to, click the link "Join or leave the list (or change settings)" and follow the instructions.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Peter Alexander, 319-384-0072; cell: 319-541-2846;