RELEASES
EXPERTS
NOTICIAS EN ESPAñOL
photo services
news staff
BROADCAST
U-M IN THE NEWS RESEARCH NEWS
VP COMMUNICATIONS
Marketing & Design
Tips for faculty
Publications
UNIVERSITY RECORD RECORD UPDATE MICHIGAN TODAY
Social Networks
FACEBOOK TWITTER YOUTUBE MOST EMAILED
 
412 MAYNARD STREET
ANN ARBOR, MI
48109-1399
PHONE: (734)764-7260
FAX: (734) 764-7084

 

Sept. 21, 2006

U-M Hispanic Heritage Month Keynote: Author Sandra Cisneros explores complexity of Latino identity


en espanol >

Sandra Cisneros
(click image for high resolution)

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—The kaleidoscope of U.S. Latino identity includes people from 20 countries, different ethnicities, religions, distinct accents, and who speak a mix of Spanish Portuguese and English.

This complexity will be explored in the University of Michigan keynote address for Hispanic Heritage Month by writer and poet Sandra Cisneros, "Why I'm Not Hispanic."

Cisneros, 52, will speak at Rackham Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 28.  She explains the provocative title of her talk: "It is Hispanic Heritage Month, but I have never self-identified as Hispanic."

Author of the landmark novel "The House on Mango Street" (1983) that sold more than two million copies, Cisneros also will share a very personal dialogue with U-M Professor of Anthropology and Women's Studies Ruth Behar. "Talking In Our Pajamas: A Conversation Between Sandra Cisneros and Ruth Behar" will be 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Sept. 29 at 3512 Haven Hall.

The writer is now working on a book called "Writing in My Pajamas," devoted to how she teaches writing: Students can find their voice by imagining they are in their pajamas "talking to someone who they know so well, they wouldn't have to excuse themselves and get dressed," Cisneros said.

Ruth Behar image
Ruth Behar
(click image for high resolution)

Behar, also a poet and author, looks "for creative ways to discuss and share ideas. Having a conversation with Sandra in pajamas will allow an audience to listen in as we talk about writing, reading, and a range of issues, just as we do during our periodic phone conversations, which usually begin at midnight and last until 4 or 5 in the morning."

Cisneros and Behar met and became friends at the University of Michigan when Cisneros was a visiting professor 15 years ago. Behar had just returned to Ann Arbor from her research in Mexico and Cisneros set up a "Day of the Dead" altar in the American Culture Program office, which is still a tradition to this day. The Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos, in Spanish) is a fusion of ancient Aztec and Catholic rituals surrounding the memory of deceased ancestors that is celebrated on Nov. 1 (All Saints) and Nov. 2 (All Souls) and it is a national holiday in Mexico and many Latin American countries.

As a writer Cisneros lives in the complexity of bilingualism (she cannot swear and cannot love in Spanish) and biculturalism. In her novel "Caramelo" (2002), she uses very special English, a narrative elaborated in one language, but pronounced in the other, according to Ilan Stavans, an expert in Latin American culture.

Other work by Cisneros includes "Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories" (1991), "My Wicked Wicked Ways" (1987), "Loose Woman" (1994), the poetry collection "Bad Boys" (1980), a children's book "Hairs/Pelitos" (1994), and "Vintage Cisneros" (2003), a compilation of her works. In 1995 Cisneros was awarded the prestigious MacArthur Foundation Fellowship and in 2003 she received the Texas Medal of the Arts. She lives in San Antonio, Texas, where she has created the Macondo Foundation, a unique writers' workshop with a Latino focus and a commitment to community service.

The visit of Cisneros for Hispanic Heritage Month is co-sponsored by the Office of Multi-Ethnic Student Affairs and the William Monroe Trotter Multicultural Center, King-Chavez-Parks Visiting Professors Program and the Office of the Senior Vice Provost, Latina/o Studies, Anthropology Department, English Department, Creative Writing Program, Institute for Research on Women and Gender, Latin American and Caribbean Studies Program, Center for World Performance Studies, and Program in Comparative Literature.

More information, Ruth Behar, rbehar@umich.edu, (734) 747-9197
http://www.ruthbehar.com/

Angela Muñoz, aimunoz@umich.edu, (734) 763-9044
http://mesa.umich.edu/

Contact: Servicio de Noticias en Español, Vivianne Schnitzer
Phone: (734) 615-1563

or


Contact: Laura Lessnau
Phone: (734) 764-7260