April 2012 Newsletter (archive)

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April Spotlight: Letras Latinas Director Francisco Aragón

Francisco Aragon

In this issue of New Horizons we turn the spotlight on Francisco Aragón, director of Letras Latinas, the Institute’s literary program. The author of two books of poetry, as well as the editor of the award-winning anthology The Wind Shifts: New Latino Poetry, Aragón joined the Institute in 2003 intent on enhancing its profile in the Latino literary community, as well as the literary community at large. The Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize remains one of its flagship initiatives, supporting the publication of a first book by a Latino/a poet. This month Emma Trelles and Silvia Curbelo, the winner and judge of the fourth edition of the prize, will be on campus reading from their work.

Aragón’s mission is to promote Latino letters both on and off campus. Letras Latinas has been an active presence at Notre Dame, but Aragón also sees new potential:

In recent years I’ve worked with professor Marisel Moreno in Romance Languages, particularly when she teaches her “Migrant Voices” course, and brought to campus a few writers she was teaching. What Letras Latinas will be striving to do in a more concerted way, starting next Fall, is to collaborate more closely with faculty in both English and Romance Languages. In other words, I’d like Letras Latinas to be a resource and for course syllabi to be the starting point when discussing which writers to bring into Notre Dame classrooms. In the meantime, “Latino/a Poetry Now,” an initiative we launched at Harvard University last fall, is currently our flagship off-campus programming initiative, though it will conclude at Notre Dame in 2013.

Aragón works from the Institute’s office in Washington, DC, which helps to give Letras Latinas a national presence. Aragón has collaborated with the Library of Congress and the Folger Shakespeare Library in co-producing literary programs. His work and reputation in the field have landed him on three National Endowment for the Arts literature panels since 2007 and resulted in him being elected to the board of directors of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP). His tenure on the AWP board culminated with his appointment as conference chair in 2011, when its annual gathering was held in Washington, DC. Coinciding with Aragón’s four-year term as vice president of the board, the AWP conference has become the largest gathering of its kind, attracting 10,000 attendees in Chicago this past February.

Aragón’s efforts have gained national attention. In 2010 the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education (AAHHE) recognized Aragón with its Outstanding Latino/a Cultural Arts, Literary Arts, and Publication Award. Hispanic Executive magazine also profiled Aragón and Letras Latinas in early 2011. In addition to working on a third collection of poetry, Aragón was recently tapped to co-edit, alongside Claudia Rankine, volume two of Wesleyan University Press’s American Poets in the 21st Century: The New Poetics, which will feature a number of Latino/a voices.

The Institute for Latino Studies has made meaningful strides in creating an environment, both on campus and off, where the study and appreciation of our literature—our stories—has thrived. Personally, the high point was witnessing Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Junot Diaz spend an hour and half with our creative writing graduate students discussing the art of fiction. A second-year student was quoted as saying that it was the high point of his time at Notre Dame. Letras Latinas and the Institute would like to create more moments like that for more of our students.

In addition to the visit of the Montoya Poetry Prize winner and judge, this month Letras Latinas will also be announcing the inaugural winner of its new national book prize: Orlando Menes, English professor, poet, and director of Notre Dame’s MFA program in creative writing, will be choosing the winner of the Letras Latinas/Red Hen Poetry Prize, which supports the publication of a second or third book of Latino poetry.

To learn about other Letras Latinas initiatives, visit: http://latinostudies.nd.edu/letras/.

To learn more about Francisco Aragón, visit: http://franciscoaragon.net/.


Attention Students: Apply Now for Summer Institute in Latino Public Policy
The Summer Institute for Latino Public Policy (SILPP) is an opportunity for undergraduate students to gain training and insight into public policy and the legislative process. The intense weeklong institute in Washington DC (June 11–16, 2012), takes students through a series of seminars, workshops, site visits to national organizations, and meetings with Congressional representatives. The application deadline is April 15, 2012. For more information visit http://iuplr.nd.edu/education/silpp.php or send direct inquiries to Olga Herrera, IUPLR national coordinator, 202-974-6282.

Hispanic Alumni of Notre Dame Conduct Samora Scholarship Interviews
In late March the Hispanic Alumni of Notre Dame (HA of ND) hosted interviews for the Julian Samora Scholarship. To help perpetuate the legacy of Professor Julian Samora, HA of ND has established a scholarship in his name. Dr. Samora’s scholarly work helped put the University of Notre Dame on the map of institutions leading the way in the field of Chicano Studies. Samora was a pioneering sociologist who mentored hundreds of undergraduates and helped over 50 students earn doctorates at the University of Notre Dame. The scholarship enables a new generation of students to follow in their footsteps. The 2011–12 school year marks the ninth annual application process for third-year undergraduate students (or fourth-year Architecture students) to apply for the $2,500 award.

Director’s Activities
Institute Director Gilberto Cárdenas gave a Hesburgh Lecture on March 1 at the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Rockford, Illinois. His talk was entitled “Immigration.” Cárdenas also served as a panelist for a plenary session at the 2012 AAHHE (American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education) seventh annual conference in Costa Mesa, California on March 9. The title of the session was “Celebrating the Latino Image in the Arts.” Cárdenas was invited by the Office of Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis at the US Department of Labor to attend the induction of the Pioneers of the Farm Worker Movement into the Labor Hall of Honor and the naming of the César E. Chávez Memorial Auditorium on March 26. The Institute’s Katie Schlotfeldt and Teresa Hayes-Santos were instrumental in assisting the Office of US Secretary of Labor in the provision of artwork drawn from the Gilberto Cárdenas Collection of Latino Art for an exhibition to accompany the induction ceremony.

Institute Supports NACCS Conference in Chicago
The Institute for Latino Studies contributed in several ways to the success the National Association of Chicano and Chicana studies (NACCS) 39th Annual Conference in Chicago March 14–17. Associate Director of Research Cynthia V. Duarte serves as secretary of the NACCS board. Idalia Maldonado provided logistical support to the conference. Research Director Juan Carlos Guzmán presented on the suburbanization of Latinos in Chicago, a paper co-written with Duarte. Institute Director Gilberto Cárdenas also served on a panel for the conference entitled “Chicano-Latino Studies Programs in the Midwest: Learning from the Richness of Experiences.”

Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize Winner Reads in Washington, DC
Letras Latinas, the Institute’s literary program, in collaboration with Split This Rock Poetry Festival, presented poets Emma Trelles and Carmen Calatayud in “Sunday Kind of Love,” a monthly reading series in Washington, DC. Trelles won the fourth edition of the Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize for Tropicalia (University of Notre Dame Press, 2011) and Carmen Calatayud is the author of the forthcoming book Cave Walk (Press 53, 2012). The event took place on March 18 in the Langston Room at Busboys & Poets in Washington.

Latino/a Poetry Now continues at Georgetown
Letras Latinas, the Institute’s literary program, in collaboration with the Poetry Society of America (PSA), presented installment two of Latino/a Poetry Now on March 20 on the campus of Georgetown University. Launched at Harvard University last fall, the multi-year initiative showcasing newer voices in Latino/a poetry, presented Salvadoran-born poet William Archila and Argentinian-born poet Ruth Irupé Sanabria, whose work was performed by distinguished poet Carolyn Forché. The same afternoon Archila visited the Lannan seminar, where his work was being taught. Co-sponsors included Georgetown’s Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice and the Library of Congress’s Hispanic Division and Poetry and Literature Center. Both Archila and Sanabria had also taken part in an online roundtable discussion, moderated by Notre Dame MFA candidate Lauro Vazquez, which can be read at the PSA website: http://www.poetrysociety.org/psa/poetry/crossroads/interviews/page_5/.

Herrera Presents at the Culture Matters Conference
Olga Herrera was a panelist at the 10th Annual Cultural Studies Association’s “Culture Matters” Conference held at the University of California-San Diego March 28–31. Her paper, “State and Security: Modern Art and the Immaterial,” examined the role of US modern art in strategic programs of the US Council of National Defense in the years 1940–1942. Her paper considered this intervention of a public-private partnership (the US State, an expatriate civil society, and the US private sector) and its residuals as possible origins of contemporary circuits of globalization or Americanization of culture in the region.

Annex Demolition Begins
With renovations of the West Washington Street property (formerly known as the “Hansel Center”) under way, demolition of the ILS Annex on Notre Dame Avenue has begun. Since 2003 the Annex has been used to support the Institute’s community outreach initiatives and art-related activities and to provide meeting space and office space for visiting fellows and graduate students. Many of the functions the Annex served will now shift to the West Washington property, slated to open in November as the “Notre Dame Center for Arts and Culture.”

Vigil Returns
New Mexico-based fresco artist Federico Vigil returned to campus in March to continue preparations for the fresco he has been commissioned to paint in honor of the Institute’s founding director Gilberto Cárdenas’s twelve years of leadership and the staff who worked with him to make the Institute a success. Vigil will return later this semester to paint the fresco.

Upcoming Events

Critical Race Studies Speaker Series Concludes
The Critical Race Studies Speaker Series, organized by Institute Fellow Jason Ruiz, will conclude April 12 when Pablo Mitchell, associate professor of history and comparative American studies at Oberlin College and author of Coyote Nation: Sexuality, Race, and Conquest in Modernizing New Mexico, 1880-1920, will come to Notre Dame to talk about his exciting new project: “On the Borders of Sex and Power: Making Mexican America.” The talk will be held in 210-214 McKenna Hall Thursday, April 12, at 5:00 pm with light refreshments preceding at 4:30 pm.

Sueños sin Fronteras: Making College Dreams a Reality
ILS will be hosting the 11th annual Sueños sin Fronteras student retreat on Saturday, April 14, from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm at the University of Note Dame Kellogg Institute for International Studies. Sueños sin Fronteras is a student-led program designed to encourage and provide resources for Latino high school students to pursue a higher education. Sueños brings South Bend high school students to Notre Dame to learn more about the realities of college. This program is initiated, planned, and hosted by Notre Dame students in partnership with ILS. It focuses on leadership, self-esteem, and university experience. We encourage our participants to “Dream Big. Live Bigger.” The retreat is free to area high school students including meals and transportation. Please contact senior Stephanie Perez, sperez@nd.edu, or 574-631-3796 for more information.

Latino Poetry Prize Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize Reading
Monday, April 16, the winner, Emma Trelles, and judge, Silvia Curbelo, of the fourth edition of Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize will present their work. The reading will take place in McKenna Hall room 112 from 4:30 to 6:30 pm. A book signing and refreshments will follow the reading. This event is free and open to the public. Sponsored by Letras Latinas, the Institute’s literary program.

Mental Health Lectures by Gilberto Pérez
On Thursday, April 19, Gilberto Pérez, director of the Northeastern Center’s Bienvenido Program will be speaking on the topic of cultural and mental health services, with some focus on interventions for Latino families. The morning lecture will be held from 9:30 to 10:45 am in 117 Haggar Hall. The afternoon lecture will be held from 12:30 to 1:45 pm in DeBartolo Hall room 304. The lectures are free and open to the public.

Junior Faculty Mentoring Workshop
The latest installment of the Institute’s Junior Faculty Mentoring Workshops will address the topic “Engaging as a Scholar with the Public and the Media and Being a Public Intellectual.” Presenters will be professors George Lopez, Darcia Narvaez, Susan Ohmer, and James Sterba, along with Notre Dame News & Information’s Shannon Chapla and Susan Guibert. The workshop will be held on Friday, April 27, from 3:00 to 5:00 pm. A reception will follow the workshop from 5:00 to 6:30 pm in McKenna Hall’s Galería America.