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CFP: 2016 Conference on Américo Paredes: Border Narratives and the Folklore of Greater Mexico

Monday, August 24, 2015   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Shannon K. Larson
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The 2016 Conference on Américo Paredes, Border Narratives and the Folklore of Greater Mexico, will be held in the Music Hall of California State University, Los Angeles from May 6-7, 2016.

The conference is the result of the long-term planning and close collaboration between Mexican and Chicano faculty at California State University, Los Angeles (Roberto Cantú), the University of California, Santa Barbara (María Herrera-Sobek), and the University of Texas at Austin (José E. Limόn). The faculty representing these three institutions are pleased to announce the conference participation of ten renowned keynote and featured speakers, such as Richard Flores (University of Texas at Austin), John Holmes McDowell (Indiana University), Oscar J. Martínez (University of Arizona) and, among other prominent speakers, film director Robert M. Young and award-winning actor and director Edward James Olmos. This conference on Américo Paredes will also include scenes from plays by Chicano dramatist Carlos Morton to be performed under the direction of Mexican actress Alejandra Flores, and panel sessions on various topics related to the conference's theme. The full conference program will be announced in mid-February 2016. 

Américo Paredes (September 3, 1915-May 5, 2009) distinguished himself as a journalist, novelist, short story writer, poet, folklorist and as Professor of English and Anthropology at the University of Texas at Austin. He also knew how to strum the guitar and sing, Homer-like, the folk corridos (ballads) of legendary Mexicans who rode and battled on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. Admired by many and held as one of the inspiring founders of Mexican American Studies in colleges and universities across the United States, Paredes was an active advocate of civil rights, educational reform, and improved social and economic opportunities for Mexican Americans and members of other ethnic communities in the United States. Born in Brownsville, Texas, Paredes was elected President of the Texas Folklore Society and Vice-President of the American Folklore Society. His life-long interest in Mexican American history and culture motivated him during his early years to collect corridos from farmers and villagers living on the Lower Rio Grande and on both sides of the Mexico-U.S. border, resulting in his pioneering book “With His Pistol in His Hand”: A Border Ballad and Its Hero (1958), and other influential books on folklore, poetry, and narrative fiction, such as Folk Music of Mexico (1966); A Texas-Mexican Cancionero: Folksongs of the Lower Border (1976); George Washington Gόmez (1990); Between Two Worlds (1991); Folklore and Culture of the Texas-American Border (1993); The Hammon and the Beans and Other Stories (1994), and The Shadow (1998). In 1991 Paredes was honored by the government of Mexico with the Order of the Aztec Eagle Award in recognition of his contributions to Mexican culture.

The organizers of the 2016 Conference on Américo Paredes invite papers on his novels and short stories, as well as analyses that expound Paredes’s theory of Greater Mexico, the folk tradition of the corridos, and his critical method of ballad interpretation. Paredes’s frequent development of a historical background to his studies of border balladry and legends (for instance, the legend of Gregorio Cortez) includes not only narratives of border conflict but also references to the colonial culture of New Spain and to the gradual northern advance of colonizing expeditions, such as José de Escandόn’s in the present-day Tamaulipas/Texas region. Paredes’s knowledge of the historical and conflictive cultural origins of the U.S. Southwest achieved its best representation in his studies of corridos, Mexican ballads with Spanish medieval frontier cadences and intonation of voice that mix themes of war, border conflict, and religious motifs stemming from Jesuit and Franciscan traditions established in Colonial Mexico as of the sixteenth century. Paredes's knowledge of the history of Greater Mexico led to his polemical critiques of the work of U.S. historian Walter Prescott Webb and of Mexican scholar Vicente T. Mendoza. Presentations on these themes and topics are highly encouraged.

Américo Paredes belonged to a generation of Mexican American writers that included Fabiola Cabeza de Baca (New Mexico, 1894-1991), Ernesto Galarza (México, 1905-1984), José Antonio Villarreal (California, 1924-2010) and, among others, Mario Suárez (Arizona, 1925–1998), writers who served their country as educators, labor organizers, journalists, and oftentimes as soldiers during the Second World War. Conference organizers welcome papers that spotlight the work of these Mexican American writers with an emphasis on their autobiographies (Cabeza de Baca, Galarza), or on their narrative fiction (Suárez, Villarreal) in relation to border narratives, the frontier experience, the relocation of home, and the way Mexican American culture is represented in such works, namely: as one that continues to grow out of the tension between tradition and modernity. Other proposed areas of study are the critical examination of scholarly works on the corrido, such as María Herrera-Sobek's The Mexican Corrido: A Feminist Analysis (1990), and Northward Bound: The Mexican Immigrant Experience in Ballad and Song (1993); or on Paredes's life and work, for instance José Limόn’s Américo Paredes: Culture and Critique (2013); Ramόn Saldívar’s The Borderlands of Culture: Américo Paredes and the Transnational Imaginary (2006); José R. Lόpez Morín’s The Legacy of Américo Paredes (2006); and Manuel Medrano’s Américo Paredes: In His Own Words, an Authorized Biography (2010).

The deadline for a 250-word abstract is February 14, 2016. The submitted abstracts can be in Spanish or in English. Submissions will be peer-reviewed and their acceptance or rejection will be communicated by e-mail on or before February 21.  Send abstracts to or mail to the following address:  

Dr. Roberto Cantú
Professor of Chicano Studies and English

California State University, Los Angeles

5151 State University Drive

Los Angeles, CA 90032

For more information, including a list of conference highlights go to:  

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