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Thanks to everyone who joined us today at CSULA!  It was standing and sitting room only at our "The Historical Novel" panel.  Profesoras y escritoras Graciela Limón, Alicia Gaspar de Alba,  Emma Pérez, y yo were greeted by such generous and important questions after we read from our books and discussed why the historical novel genre is especially prescient for our twenty-first century.  What we are all doing is returning la mujer to history--giving her voice.  So important.  

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Las escritoras:  Amelia Montes, Alicia Gaspar de Alba, Graciela Limón, Emma Pérez

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Fielding questions from the audience

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The audience!

After our panel, I also met many young Chicanas y Chicanos who are also dedicated to the "word" and I am posting their pictures here and will explain their projects (below). These young students, especially, were such a pleasure to meet because I see in them passion and commitment to the "word."  They see that in the reading and writing of literature, they are participating in deepening their understanding of their humanity, of our culture. By writing, they are creating art and contributing to the transformation of their world.  YOU are the future! 

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Authors/students Rae Obnimaga, Edward Solis, Ana Bertha Hernandez, and Edward's twin are showing us their anthology, _Behind Every Beautiful Eye:  A Bilingual Anthology of Poetry and Prose_.  To get your copy, just click on the title here and it will take you to the website.  

Who are these vibrant, young writers pictured above?  In their book _Behind Every Beautiful Eye_, the section entitled "About the Authors," reads: "We wrote this book when we were freshman at the Los Angeles School of Global Studies (LASGS).  We are a diverse group of students coming from the United States, Mexico, the Philippines, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Jamaica.  We all have one thing in common--we know what it's like to grow up as teenagers in the neighborhoods of downtown Los Angeles" (357).  This is a project that can happen in any city because Latinas y Latinos are in every state of the U.S.  

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And joining the Global Studies students are these vibrant young writers who call themselves,
"Barrio Writers." They are the first "Barrio Writers" chapter in Santa Ana, Califas--a non-profit reading and writing program that aims to empower teens through creative writing, higher education and cultural arts.  This winter, their first anthology publication (entitled _Barrio Writers_) will be out. Order a copy now at Barrio Writers BLOG!!  I send a special gracias to Claudia Breña (standing next to me in the picture) who took time to talk to me about being a "Barrio Writer."  Much success to Claudia and all the Barrio Writers!

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A special shout out to Chicana Detective novelist, Lucha Corpi!  She read from her story, "Hollow Point at the Synapses" just recently published in the anthology, Hit List:  The Best of Latino Mystery (edited by Sarah Cortez and Liz Martínez).  Lucha also discussed the importance of writing the mystery and detective novel. Gracias Lucha!

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Felicidades to René Colato Lainez (above) fellow Macondista and children's author at the Latino Book Festival author booth today.  He has two new books coming out:  René Has Two Last Names (out October 31!) and The Tooth Fairy Meets El Ratón Pérez.  I have seen René read from the El Ratón story--priceless!  Bilingual books ROCK.  Gracias René!

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And finally--a big GRACIAS to mi carnala, Pat Alderete, Chicana author, who joined us for the day, took pictures, engaged me (as she always does) in important discussions about literature, writing, Chicanisma, barrio life, and the art scene in Chicana Los Angeles!  Orale Pata.  Gracias por tu presencia en mi vida!  Abrazos!

Sonoma Students Read Ruiz de Burton!

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On the way to California State University at Sonoma!

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Sign for Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo's adobe home--of which
Maria Amparo Ruiz de Burton visited often.

Thank you to my dear friend and colleague, Professor Anne Goldman, who arranged 
this visit with the students of Sonoma--and what a wonderful discussion!  They were 
ready for discussions on race, class, gender issues that Ruiz de Burton's novel presents for us to consider in the twenty-first century!  Their questions helped me think more about Ruiz de Burton's publishing and the question of reception.  How many people read Ruiz de Burton in the 1870s?  Did Lippincott sell many of her books?  The answer lies at the New York Library archives (Lippincott records)!  I also enjoyed discussing issues of class and race with the students.  They see how Ruiz de Burton's novel connects with our present day preoccupations on these subjects.  

Here are pictures of the students who were quite thoughtful, smart, inquisitive! --such a pleasure to be with you.  Thank you!

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The Sonoma University students with their professor,
Anne Goldman (left--in red).

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I met students who had grown up in the northern California area as well as students who were born in Mexico and then grew up in Sonoma and San Francisco.  They all commented afterwards on how Ruiz de Burton's novel helps them think about the sometimes painful but instructive ways we are all implicated in issues of race, class, gender, sexuality. The nineteenth century doesn't seem so distant after such discussions!

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Professor Anne Goldman (in red) and Amelia.  

Thanks again, Anne!  And thanks for many good years of friendship and academic collaboration--may there be many more.  Just in case you don't know, Professor Anne Goldman and I published the anthology, Maria Amparo Ruiz de Burton:  Critical and Pedagogical Perspectives.  It was a great collaboration that included Ruiz de Burton scholars from across the nation.  Since then, Professor Goldman has been writing non-fiction.  Look up this summer's 2009 edition of The Gettysburg Review to see  Anne's non-fiction piece entitled "Double Vision."  

Bird & Beckett Bookstore, San Francisco

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--audience members at Bird & Beckett Bookstore

Thank you to Eric, owner of Bird & Beckett Bookstore!  There
were so many wonderful people interested in learning about
Ruiz de Burton tonight.  Some were there because they had read
about the reading in the SF newspaper, others saw it on the
B&B website.  Most said they were there to find out about
the first Mexican American novelist--amazed that Latina
literary heritage dates back to the mid-nineteenth century.  
And then there was my "tocaya" (translation: "namesake"), 
Amelia Vigil who was there with her mother.  Here is a picture 
of Amelia Vigil and me:

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Amelia Vigil attends Mills College and is soon to graduate.  
She's a creative writer and is interested in how writers consider
blogging and facebook.  Is blogging a creative enterprise,
similar to, say, fiction writing?  I say "no" and so does my
"tocaya."  Blogging can be a flash thought, a posting of
an event (like this one), quick discussions.  
I look forward to more conversations about this with Amelia 
Vigil.  It was quite a pleasure to meet her and her mother.
I too, like Amelia's mother, am a first generation Latina/Chicana
and like my "tocaya," I am the first in my family to receive
a B.A. (which then I went on to the M.A. and Ph.D).  I see
Amelia Vigil doing the same if she so desires it.  

What a thrill to meet everyone at the reading.  Thank you for
your interest in Ruiz de Burton but most of all, thank you for
your love and commitment to literature!  

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L.A. & Santa Barbara hears Ruiz de Burton

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Amelia Montes, the spirit of Ruiz de Burton, Chela Sandoval 

Could this be "la fantasma" of Ruiz de Burton standing between me and Chela Sandoval?  Could this wired angel be tapping into our differential consciousness?  Or maybe it is simply wires shaped into angel wings, a barbed angel body and that is all.  Ruiz de Burton is certainly in the minds of a number of people and I am meeting them this week!  Yesterday I spoke to professors and graduate students at UCSB.  They had great questions about how to teach Who Would Have Thought It? 

To begin, it is best to introduce students first to the captivity narrative and also to historical  materials regarding California and California's constitutional debate on race and rights in 1849.  The state constitutional convention in California occurred between September 1 and October 13, 1849 in Monterey.  These debates and conversations still affect us today.  It is at this convention that the question of suffrage was the focus.  Who would have the vote in this new state?  The Indians?  The Blacks?  The Mexican?  They knew the Anglo American would have the vote.  That was a given.  The Californio (spelled correctly with an "o"--the Mexican American Californians) delegates wanted the vote too and offered up this definition of "white."  Delegate Noriega de la Guerra:  " . . . what is the true significance of the word 'white.' Many citizens of California have received from nature a very dark skin; nevertheless, there are among them men who have heretofore been allowed to vote, and not only that, but to fill the highest public offices.  It would be very unjust to deprive them of the privilege of citizens merely because nature had not made them white.  But if, by the word 'white' it was intended to exclude the African race, then it was correct and satisfactory. . . "  Another delegate, Mr. Botts states:  "I have no objection to color, except so far as it indicated the inferior races of mankind."  (from The Other Californians, page 98)
Ruiz de Burton was sixteen when these conversations took place.  She and those of her generation entered into this new state and national narrative on race--that "white" apparently had nothing to do with color except when the dominant group needed to set boundaries, distinctions.  She grew up with the narrative that "white" was power and to be Spanish was definitely "distinct" from being Mexican or Indian.  
At the Berkeley archives, one can see the census reports right after the convention to note how citizens were writing down that they were Spanish white or African European--whatever the correct "distinction" was in order to get the vote, in order to be accepted into this state and national narrative.  
Times have not changed and Ruiz de Burton's "angel" still comes with these historical narratives.  We still make "distinctions," we still follow the narratives.  

This is another reason to re-evealuate/reconsider the barbed nature of Ruiz de Burton's spirit and historical past.  How to avoid following these narratives?