Carlos Fuentes Conference 2012
May 4-5, 2012
Carlos Fuentes (b. November 11, 1928) ranks as the most acclaimed modern novelist in Mexico and one of the central figures in Latin America’s literary “Boom,” a generation that consists of Julio Cortázar, Gabriel García Márquez and, among others, Mario Vargas Llosa. Raised in a family that represented Mexico’s economic and diplomatic interests in Latin America and in the United States, Fuentes is an award-winning novelist often associated with questions of national identity, historical origins, Mexico’s capital as a megacity, and the unresolved conflicts–with Spain, with the United States, and with itself–that define Mexico as a modern nation.
From his early short stories in Los días enmascarados (1954), to novels and essays that include La región más transparente (1958), Cambio de piel (1967), Terra Nostra (1975), and Los cinco soles de México, memoria de un milenio (2000), Fuentes has portrayed Mesoamerica—generally allegorized as Mexico-Tenochtitlan, therefore with an emphasis on the Nahua–as a determining force in modern Mexico, and as an integral part in the world’s history of ruling transnational powers. The unresolved cultural and social conflicts between Mexico’s native peoples in relation to the Spanish conquest and colonial New Spain remain to this day a thematic constant in Fuentes’s novels and essays, portrayed as the fundamental background and condition to Mexico’s modernization and political development as a democracy. Fuentes’s novels thus mark the historical present as an artistic possibility for reflection and symbolic resolution to modernity’s most crucial questions, arguably a juncture shared by Mexico with other developing countries.
The simultaneous representation of the national and the global in Fuentes’s narrative has been a determining factor in its translations to major world languages. An impressive bibliography of critical studies has recognized in Fuentes’s work a will to poetry and an energetic narrative experimentation stemming from 20th-century aesthetic movements, such as Cubism and Surrealism. Consistent with his views on national origins–often defined by Fuentes as Mexico’s question of being and becoming, or as the weight of the past and the spur of a desired future–Fuentes claims a double origin for the modern novel: on the one hand, as an avant-garde poetics intent on redefining art and its function in a contemporary world; on the other, as the uninterrupted artistic heritage that Latin America’s literary modernity has embraced and appropriated in Miguel de Cervantes’s Don Quixote de la Mancha.
The 2012 Conference on Carlos Fuentes includes seven sessions on Ancient, Colonial, and Modern Mexico; on the novels, short stories, and essays of Carlos Fuentes; and a full staging of one of Fuentes’s plays: Orquídeas a la luz de la luna (1982), with actresses Alejandra Flores and Azalia Correa playing the roles of Mexican film icons María Félix and Dolores del Río.
The conference also includes five keynote and featured speakers who are distinguished world scholars in the field of Fuentes studies. For more information on this conference, write to firstname.lastname@example.org, or to this address:
Dr. Roberto Cantú
Professor of Chicano Studies and English
California State University, Los Angeles
5151 State University Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90032
Cal State L.A. Map Website:
UCLA’s Department of Spanish and Portuguese, and Cal State L.A.’s Gigi Gaucher-Morales Memorial Conference Series, the Center for Contemporary Poetry and Poetics, the College of Arts and Letters, the College of Natural and Social Sciences, the Department of Chicano Studies, the Department of English, and
the Emeriti Association.