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Alin Haberle '22

ars nova, 2021

Major: English
Bio: Alin Haberle is an English major with a creative writing concentration and a Spanish minor. She grew up in Brooklyn, and her interests are in creative writing and linguistics.

Title of Research: Crossroads of Method: Woolf and Magical Realism
Mentor: Dr. Anne Fernald
Abstract: In this project, I studied magical realism, beginning with the modernist writer Virginia Woolf and her novel Orlando. Woolf’s writing is characterized by its realism and its closeness to life, but she uses many of the techniques of magical realism. Orlando’s translation into Spanish, by Jorge Luis Borges, was an important influence in the works of magical realism authors. From Woolf and Borges to contemporary writers like Helen Oyeyemi and Kelly Link, the combination of magical and realistic elements takes many different forms. I studied the work produced by these authors, as well as Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Gabriel García Márquez’s Chronicle of a Death Foretold, and the art of Xul Solar. I studied critical writing about all of these works and about magical realism as a whole. This reading allowed me to see magical realism not as a genre but as a technique. Magical realism fundamentally challenges genre, allowing the author to give form to complex emotions without restriction. I used this understanding of magical realism to plan, then write, a 40-page novella with magical realism elements. The novella follows three generations of young women living before, during, and after a mysterious world event; I used this story to explore themes related to the coronavirus pandemic, including grief, isolation, and familial connection. My reading of fiction, study of criticism, and direct practice showed me that magical realism functions not as a unified genre, but as a technique that can be used to express emotion in new ways.