I was born in Guadalajara, México, but grew up in Tijuana, thus on the crossroads of the Mexico-U.S. border. I received my B.A. and M.A. degrees from San Diego State University, a campus that honored me in 1975 with a Distinguished Alumni Award. My studies at UCLA led to a Ph.D. in Hispanic Languages and Literatures, with a doctoral dissertation on Mexican historian Edmundo O’Gorman. My dissertation was written under the direction of Argentine philosopher Aníbal Sánchez-Reulet, a former student of Spanish philosopher José Ortega y Gasset. I began teaching in the Department of Chicano Studies in the fall 1974 on a part-time basis, and joined the Chicano Studies faculty in 1976 as assistant professor and Acting Department Chair. In 1994 I began my joint appointment in the English Department. I have taught undergraduate and graduate courses in literature (Chicano, European, Latin American, Mesoamerican, Mexican), and have directed numerous master’s theses in both departments. My courses generally have an emphasis on the novel, short fiction, the essay, and on narrative myths (when Mesoamerican).
Teaching at Cal State L.A. for more than 40 years has been a most rewarding experience in my life. I have worked with colleagues, staff, and students on various international conferences; founded the Chicano Studies Publications Center (1976-1984), with two journals (Campo Libre and Escolios). I have also produced plays on campus (Bodas de sangre, by Federico García Lorca; and Bless Me, Ultima, a play adaptation of Rudolfo Anaya’s novel Bless Me, Ultima). As project director of the annual Gigi Gaucher-Morales Memorial Conferences, I have organized with fellow colleagues conferences on Mesoamerica, Octavio Paz, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Carlos Fuentes and, most recently, on Rudolfo Anaya, Mariano Azuela, and Américo Paredes. My publications range from book reviews and articles to books on Chicano and Mexican writers, as well as on Mesoamerican civilization and on humanism, critique, and modernity (for more specific information, visit my additional website [see below]). I have been very lucky: Cal State L.A. has honored me with an Outstanding Professor Award (1990), and with the President’s Distinguished Professor Award (2010).