Book Discussion of The Borderlands of Culture: Américo Paredes and the Transnational Imaginary by Ramón Saldívar

Moderator: Gavin Jones

Discussants: Michael Hames-García and Kirsten Silva Gruesz

Respondent: Ramón Saldívar

Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Terrace Room, Margaret Jacks Hall
5:00-7:00 PM

Reading: Chapter 3, "The Checkerboard of Consciousness in George Washington Gomez," and Chapter 10, "The Postwar Borderlands and the Origins of the Transnational Imaginary," of the book will be distributed in pdf form in advance of the discussion. For an electronic copy of the readings, please contact Jennifer Harford Vargas at

Abstract: Poet, novelist, journalist, and ethnographer, Américo Paredes (1915-1999) was a pioneering figure in Mexican American border studies and a founder of Chicano studies. In this beautifully written literary history, Ramón Saldívar establishes Paredes's preeminent place in writing the contested cultural history of the south Texas borderlands. At the same time, Saldívar reveals Paredes as a precursor to the "new" American cultural studies by showing how he perceptively negotiated the contradictions between the national and transnational forces at work in the Americas in the nascent era of globalization. By explaining how Paredes's work engaged with issues central to contemporary scholarship, Saldívar extends Paredes's intellectual project and shows how it contributes to the remapping of the field of American studies from a transnational perspective.

Ramón Saldívar holds the Hoagland Family Chair in the School of Humanities and Sciences, is the Milligan Family Fellow in Undergraduate Studies, and is currently Chair of the Department of English at Stanford University. His teaching and research focus on the areas of literary criticism and literary theory, the history of the novel, 19th and early 20th century literary studies, cultural studies, globalization and issues concerning transnationalism, and Chicano and Chicana studies. In addition to The Borderlands of Culture, he is author of two books: Figural Language in the Novel: The Flowers of Speech from Cervantes to Joyce (1984) and Chicano Narrative: The Dialectics of Difference (1990).

Michael Hames-García is Associate Professor of English and Director of Ethnic Studies at the University of Oregon. Hames-Garc’a's research addresses questions emerging from the interdisciplinary areas of U.S. Latina/o studies, critical prison studies, and gay and lesbian studies. He is the author of Fugitive Thought: Prison Movements, Race, and the Meaning of Justice (2004) and co-editor of Reclaiming Identity: Realist Theory and the Predicament of Postmodernism (2000) and Identity Politics Reconsidered (2006).

Kirsten Silva Gruesz is Associate Professor of Literature at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her work is broadly based in the cultural and political relations between the U.S. and the rest of the Americas, particularly Mexico, the Caribbean, Central and South America. She is the author of Ambassadors of Culture: The Transamerican Origins of Latino Writing and is currently at work on two book projects, Bad Lengua: A Cultural History of Spanish in the United States and Bordering the Gulf: Historical Excursions in LatinoAmerica.

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