May 11, 2021
Dear Members of Our Campus Community,
I am very saddened to share with you the news that Professor Emerita Marta Gallo of our Department of Spanish and Portuguese passed away on March 29.
Professor Gallo was a renowned scholar, a devoted teacher and mentor, and an admired colleague who contributed so much to our academic community. Her impact on the field and our students will never be forgotten. In her honor, our campus flag will be lowered on May 19.
I am honored to share the following remembrance from our colleagues Sara Poot-Herrera, Suzanne Jill Levine, Francisco Lomelí, Chair Silvia Bermúdez, and our Department of Spanish and Portuguese.
Marta Gallo (1924-2021)
We greatly mourn the passing on March 29th of our dear emeritus colleague Marta Gallo at the age of 96. Even after she retired in 1991, Marta continued to be an inspiration to generations of students – often holding seminars at her home. She was also a stimulating and caring friend to her colleagues, and a scholar who continued to contribute to her field as well as a tireless, discerning reader who stayed in touch with the world and with her community in Santa Barbara. Like Proust’s madeleine, when opening and savoring the Argentine alfajor or the dulce de leche ice cream, she opened the world of her roaming, of her childhood and intellectual life in the Buenos Aires she left in the late sixties. Because of a coup d’état and political unrest, she left her native country in 1966 to pursue her intellectual interests and scholarly career.
Marta Gallo was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on October 20, 1924. She studied Philology at the University of Buenos Aires, and after teaching at the University of Puerto Rico, she began teaching at UCSB in 1968 where she made her residence here in Santa Barbara. She was a pillar of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese and part of a generation that, on and off campus, gave visibility to UCSB. Professor Gallo helped design the Department of Spanish and Portuguese’s programs, always open to change, while also recognizing the importance of tradition. With a broad knowledge of classical and modern world cultures, she was beloved by undergraduate and graduate students. She directed countless doctoral dissertations—and now her students, which include the Spanish writer Soledad Puértolas, are professors at universities both here and abroad.
Her book, Reflexiones sobre espejos: la imagen especular – cuatro siglos de trayectoria literaria hispanoamericana (Reflections on Mirrors and the Specular Image: Four centuries of Spanish-American Literature) (Universidad de Guadalajara, 1993), reviewed in prestigious journals (such as the Nueva Revista de Filología Hispánica), is a detailed study of the physical laws of reflection and refraction in Spanish-American culture, as it relates to the search for origins, for memory, for identity. Marta Gallo’s scholarly contributions were extensive, including articles on such canonical writers as Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Jorge Luis Borges, Julio Cortázar, Gabriel García Márquez, Victoria and Silvina Ocampo, Juan Rulfo, Augusto Roa Bastos, Carlos Fuentes, Ricardo Piglia, César Aira, Juan Villoro, among other famed Latin American writers. Her readings were “close readings” – always reflective with a solid basis of sources, theory and the art of literary criticism. Her clarity was essential, her rigor, a touchstone.
A traveler in her youth, she traveled with her imagination later in life. In her house, among her books, she paused to reflect on all kinds of issues, talked about everything (but not with everyone), Marta Gallo really had her finger on the pulse of time, always aware of current trends in science, in art, in fashion. We already miss her great discernment, her direct questions, her common sense, her irony, her unconditional support, her eagerness to know.
Henry T. Yang