Arizona Centennial Lecture Series opens with discussion of Latina/o presence in U.S. literatureby Hot Off The Press (Release) on Nov. 08, 2011, under Press Releases
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Tucson, Ariz. (Nov. 8, 2011) – Charles M. Tatum, from the UA department of Spanish and Portuguese, delivers the first of three lectures in the Arizona Centennial Lecture Series on Nov. 15, 2011 from 7:00 – 8:30 p.m. in Special Collections, 1510 E. University Blvd. The Arizona Centennial Lecture Series is being held in conjunction with Special Collections’ year-long exhibition “Becoming Arizona: The Valentine State.” Tatum’s talk, “The Latina/o Literary Presence in U.S. Literature: From Cabeza de Baca to the Present,” explores the history of the Latino/a literary tradition by connecting past and present.
In 2011, U.S.-Latinas/os number over 50 million of this country’s population. In the Southwest, Latinas/os of Mexican descent will within three decades become the majority population. Whether Latinas/os have come from ancestors who settled much of what is today the U.S. Southwest and Southeast as early as the 16th century, or whether their families came as immigrants in the early part of the 20th century or more recently, many have continued to maintain their connections to Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America and South America.
More than 100 years before the appearance of the 17th century foundational works of American literature in the English language, accounts of the Iberian conquest, exploration and colonization of the Americas had already been published in Spanish. These foundational narratives of U.S. Latina/o literature form the basis of the environmental, racial, class, religious, political and economic structures upon which the evolving literary tradition would be built.
In the mid-19th century, much of today’s U.S. Southwest was sold under pressure by the Mexican government to the U.S. Many Americans of Mexican descent see the U.S. occupation of these lands as a form of colonialism. A similar perception exists in Puerto Rico that became part of the U.S. after the Spanish-American War of 1898.
Professor Tatum argues that the U.S. Latina/o literary tradition has been characterized since the 19th century by a deep sense of rupture and displacement that has its roots in racism, anti-Hispanism, and the feeling of being an alien in one’s own homeland. At the same time, many contemporary U.S. Latina/o writers celebrate their double consciousness as Latin American and U.S. cultural citizens embracing their plurality of customs, language, traditions and values.
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Special Collections at the University Libraries maintains collections of rare books and unique archival materials that make possible in-depth research on selected topics. The scope and diversity of Special Collections make it an important resource for the international academic community. Established in 1958 to house materials on Arizona, the Southwest, and the U.S./Mexico Borderlands, Special Collections now includes rare books, manuscript collections, photographs, and other materials in a wide variety of subject areas. For more information visit http://speccoll.library.arizona.edu
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