“Spanglish” expert and cultural critic to speak at University

Ilan Stavans presents “United States of Mestizo” on campus April 24

4/12/2012 | By: Claudene Wharton  |

Prolific author, cultural critic, linguist and television host Ilan Stavans is internationally known for his work in language, identity, politics and history. The author of Spanglish: The Making of a New American Language and more than 50 other fiction and nonfiction works, Stavans will present at the University of Nevada, Reno at 6:30 p.m., April 24.

The sometimes-controversial Stavans has been profiled or interviewed by several national media outlets, including Newsweek, PBS, The Nation, The New York Times and The Washington Post. The New York Times said that he is "one of the most influential figures in Latino literature in the United States," and The Washington Post described him as "Latin America's liveliest and boldest critic and most innovative culture enthusiast."

Being a Mexican-American born into a Jewish family with roots in Eastern Europe, Stavans was raised in a multicultural family. He is a celebrated storyteller whose work has been translated into a dozen languages and garnered numerous international awards. He is an authority on "Spanglish," the hybrid language that emerges when Spanish and English speakers interact, and in his book on the subject, which contains about 6,000 terms, he argues that Spanglish is a valid form of expression, not a corruption of the two languages. Such stances and his translation of great works, such as Don Quixote, into Spanglish have sometimes earned him criticism from other scholars and commentators.

As host of the syndicated PBS show, "La Plaza," between 2001 and 2006, Stavans interviewed international guests on pressing issues such as immigration, religion, bilingualism, race and democracy. He later compiled the most enlightening interviews into a book, Conversations with Ilan Stavans.

Stavan's presentation at the University of Nevada, Reno, "United States of Mestizo," is free and open to the public, in the Nell J. Redfield Foundation Auditorium of the Davidson Math and Science Center.

"We are very excited to bring Ilan Stavans to campus, for the benefit of our students and the entire community," said Darrell Lockhart, chair of the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures at the University. "With such a growing Hispanic population in our community and an increasingly diverse student body on campus, his presentation will be enlightening and thought-provoking, encouraging lively discussion."

Stavans comes to the University at the invitation of the University's student Spanish Club, and the event is being supported by the College of Liberal Arts' Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, Hilliard Endowment for the Humanities, and Ethnic Studies Program, as well as the Associated Students of the University of Nevada. Stavans is the Lewis-Sebring Professor in Latin American and Latino Culture at Amherst College in Massachusetts.

Those attending the April 24 presentation on campus are advised to arrive early and park in the Brian Whalen Parking Complex, off North Virginia Street, just south of Lawlor Events Center. For more information, call the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, (775) 784-6055.


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