Conference on Américo Paredes to be held at Cal State LA, May 6-7

Scholars from across the nation are scheduled to attend this event

Cal State LA will host a conference on author, anthropologist and champion of Mexican American culture, Américo Paredes.

The conference will be held May 6-7, 2016 and will focus on the theme, “Border Narratives and the Folklore of Greater Mexico.”

Paredes, who died in 1999, is admired and acknowledged as one of the founders of Mexican American Studies in colleges and universities across the United States. He was an advocate of civil rights, educational reform, and improved social and economic opportunities for Mexican Americans and other ethnic communities in the United States.

The conference is a result of Cal State LA’s partnership with the University of California, Santa Barbara and the University of Texas at Austin, where Américo Paredes served as professor of English and anthropology.

Paredes’ lifelong interest in Mexican American history and culture motivated him during his early years to collect corridos (ballads) from farmers and villagers living on the Lower Rio Grande and on both sides of the Mexico-U.S. border. The collection resulted in his pioneering book, “With His Pistol in His Hand”: A Border Ballad and Its Hero, published in 1958, and other influential books on folklore, poetry, and narrative fiction. 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 two-day conference will include 10 keynote and featured speakers, two plenary sessions on conference-related topics, and four theatrical pieces written by Chicano playwright Carlos Morton. The performances will be presented by professional actors under the direction of Guillermo Avilés Rodríguez, of Cal State Northridge.

The featured lectures will include “Américo Paredes, Walter Prescott Webb, and the Antinomies of Theory,” by Richard Flores, of the University of Texas at Austin; “The U.S.-Mexico Borderlands: From Alienation to Integration,” by Oscar J. Martínez, of the University of Arizona; and “Américo Paredes and the Work of Border Writing,” by Claudia Sadowski-Smith, of Arizona State University.

John H. McDowell, of Indiana University, will give a keynote presentation, “Transitionality: The Border as Barrier and Bridge.”

The conference will also include two plenary sessions: “Américo Paredes: Folklore, Literature, and the History of Greater México,” and “Américo Paredes: Narrative, Poetry, and His Generation.”

Actor Edward James Olmos, a Cal State LA alumnus, and film director Robert Young will discuss the making of the 1982 film, The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez, an adaptation based on Paredes’ book, With His Pistol in His Hand.

For detailed information on this conference including updates, scheduled speakers and sessions, biographies, lecture abstracts of speakers and panelists, visit:

This conference is free and open to the public. It is sponsored by Cal State LA’s Gigi Gaucher-Morales Memorial Conference Series, the Office of the President, the College of Arts and Letters, the College of Natural and Social Sciences, the Department of English, and the Cal State LA Emeriti Association. For questions, contact Cal State LA Professor Roberto Cantú at:

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