Kirsten Silva Gruesz, “Hispanizing the California Bohemians: San Francisco Print Culture in the 1860s and the Question of the First Mexican-American Novel”

Friday, May 20 | 1:30 PM | South Hall 2635

Aurelio Luis Gallardo, a liberal exile from Maximilian’s Mexico, serialized his now-forgotten novel Adah, o el amor de un ángel in 1868-69 in San Francisco, where he was an active participant in local politics and print culture. Evidence links Gallardo to the popular US actress/poet Adah Isaacs Menken and to the city’s iconic “Bohemian Circle” of writers Mark Twain, Bret Harte, and Ada Clare. Part melancholy romance, part picaresque adventure tale, Adah encourages a reappraisal of the role that the multilingual press played in the development of US regionalism. It also begs the question of what it would mean to consider Adah as the first Mexican-American novel: what would such a retroactive claim for a Latino literary tradition reveal about the exigencies of the present moment?

Kirsten Silva Gruesz is a Professor of Literature at the University of California, Santa Cruz.  Her work focuses on cultural and political relations between the U.S. and the rest of the Americas, particularly Mesoamerica and the Caribbean/Gulf coast. Among many other publications, she is the author of the 2002 book Ambassadors of Culture: The Transamerican Origins of Latino Writing.

This talk is generously co-sponsored by the History Department and the Chicano/a Studies Department.

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