The Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) and the Mexican National Council for Culture and the Arts (El Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes-CONACULTA) are pleased to announce a three-year renewal of their collaborative arts-based initiative. Under the auspices of the Cátedra Cultura de México, CONACULTA selects distinguished Mexican artists to visit the AU community, deliver public lectures, and engage faculty and experts in Washington, DC. American University joins an exclusive list of seven universities that partner with this Mexican government program, among them Brown, Harvard, Princeton, the City College of New York, the University of California system, and the University of Chicago.
In October 2015, CLALS hosted acclaimed Mexican film director Guita Schyfter for a panel discussion and Q&A session with the audience. Joining her were Amy Oliver of the Department of Philosophy and Religion; Jeff Middents of the Department of Literature; and Núria Vilanova of the Department of World Languages and Cultures.
Raised in Costa Rica by Eastern European Jewish refugee parents, Guita Schyfter received her Bachelor’s in Psychology from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). After receiving a scholarship from the British Council, Schyfter studied audiovisual production at BBC in London. As a television and film director in Mexico City, Schyfter worked for Telesecundaria and the Mexican National Archive before making her first major film, Novia que te vea, in 1993. Novia won several major awards in Mexico, including the highly prestigious Ariel Award for Best First Film. Incorporating elements of her experience of the Jewish diaspora in Mexico, Schyfter’s cinematography blends memory and narrative testimony to question everyday assumptions of identity. Los laberintos de la memoria (2007) and Huérfanos (2014) are her two most recent full-length features.
In September 2014, CLALS was pleased to welcome award-winning author Cristina Rivera Garza for a panel discussion on the place of writing and community in the context of contemporary violence. She was joined by Professor Jeff Middents from the Department of Literature and by Professors Núria Vilanova and Brenda Werth from the Department of World Languages and Cultures. Over 50 guests were in attendance.
Cristina Rivera Garza was born in northeast Mexico, received her doctorate in Latin American History at the University of Houston, and currently directs the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing Program at the University of California, San Diego. Dr. Rivera Garza is the only author who has won the prestigious Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz Prize twice, first for her novel Nadie me verá llorar (2001) and again for her novel La muerte me da (2009). Her writing embodies various approaches (novels, short stories, essays, prose, blogs, and criticism), and her texts have been translated into English, Italian, Portuguese, German, and Korean.
In April 2014, CLALS was pleased to welcome acclaimed novelist Mario Bellatin for a panel discussion on contemporary Mexican literature. He was joined by panelists Yuri Herrera, also a distinguished Mexican author, and Professors Ana Serra and Juliana Martínez from the Department of World Languages and Cultures. The event was held in Spanish with 90 people in attendance.
Mario Bellatin's approach to an experimental consciousness marks the standard of convex writing in contemporary Latin American literature. Bellatin was born in Mexico, grew up in Peru, and studied screenwriting in Cuba. Among his more well-known works is his book Flowers, which won the Premio Xavier Villaurrutia in 2001. He was the recipient of a Guggenheim grant in 2002, and Nobel Prize-winning author Mario Vargas Llosa described him as "one of the most interesting writers that have arisen in Latin America in recent years." Read the New York Times profile of Bellatin here.
In September 2013, CLALS was honored to welcome to campus Mexican film director Arturo Ripstein, widely considered Mexico's most celebrated and respected contemporary filmmaker. Ripstein's career spans nearly a half century of Mexican flimography, including such enduring masterpieces as El castillo de pureza (The Castle of Purity, 1972), El lugar sin límites (Hell has no limits, 1977), Profundo carmesí (Deep Crimson, 1996), and El coronel no tiene quien le escriba (No One Writes to the Colonel, 1999). During the public event, Maestro Ripstein discussed his career and answered questions from a panel of CAS professors, including Jeffrey Middents, Ludy Grandas, Núria Vilanova, and Brenda Werth. Over 85 people were in attendance.
Listen to Latin Pulse's special edition podcast featuring an interview with Arturo Ripstein.
Photo © 2012 Cortesía Noroeste
On January 31, 2013, Mexican playwright, storyteller and novelist Élmer Mendoza came to AU to present a lecture on his work, the majority of which explores the influences of the drug economy on Mexican society. Winner of the 2007 Tusquets Award for his novel Balas de plata (Silver Bullets), Élmer Mendoza is widely considered the foremost figure in a new crime fiction genre known as "narcoliterature." Mendoza is currently professor of literature at the Universidad Autónoma de Sinaloa. After the lecture, Mendoza and AU faculty participated in a panel discussion.
An interview with Mendoza by CLALS Research Fellow Héctor Silva appeared as an article in La Prensa Gráfica.
Listen to Latin Pulse's 30-minute podcast featuring an interview with Élmer Mendoza.
Photo © 2012 Nina Subin
In September 2012, CLALS welcomed prominent Mexican author Alberto Ruy-Sánchez, who delivered a lecture on the literary journey that led to El Quinteto de Mogador, a five-novel series born out of the author's travels between Mexico and Morocco. The first novel of the series, Mogador, was awarded the Xavier Villarrutia Prize in 1987, the most prestigious literary recognition in Mexico. Born in 1951, Ruy-Sánchez is the author of over 23 books of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry, many of which have been translated into as many as 15 languages. Visit the author's website.
Listen to Latin Pulse's 30-minute podcast featuring an interview with Alberto Ruy-Sánchez.