Libraries’ Scholarly, Artistic and Literary Works Highlight Hispanic Heritage

By Maureen Schlangen

In 1988, President Reagan marked the 20th anniversary of Hispanic Heritage Week by expanding the celebration to a full month each year, Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. This year, Roesch Library marks the 50th anniversary of national Hispanic heritage observances with its annual film/discussion series plus an invitation to explore myriad other scholarly, literary and artistic resources available in the library catalog and through OhioLINK.

Five Hispanic heritage films on Kanopy

With the University Libraries’ subscription to Kanopy, an on-demand streaming video service for public libraries and educational institutions, people at UD have access to a large collection of classic films, independent productions and documentaries. Here are five titles that highlight Hispanic heritage and current issues:

In the Shadows: Undocumented Immigration in America (2013)

Part of the 2017 Hispanic Heritage Month series, this film is a modern day Grapes of Wrath story in which a family of undocumented immigrants from the jungle in Mexico journey to a dairy farm in the USA in search of a better life and a means to send money home to their struggling families.

Reportero: Journalists Risking their Lives to Report on the Mexican Drug War (2013)

This film follows a veteran reporter and his colleagues at Zeta, a Tijuana-based independent newspaper, as they stubbornly ply their trade in one of the deadliest places in the world for members of the media. As the drug war intensifies and the risks to journalists become greater, will the free press be silenced?

The Ballad of Esequiel Hernandez (2007)

This series of films is a frightening and cautionary tale about the dangers of using military as domestic law enforcement. In 1997, no one in the small town (pop. 100) of Redford, Texas knew that U.S. Marine teams, fully camouflaged and armed with M16 rifles, had been secretly deployed to their section of the border. Farmers like the Hernandez family, who lived by the river, went on working their fields and tending to their livestock. On the evening of May 20, 18-year-old Esequiel Hernandez Jr. left the house to tend to his family's goats, taking with him, as usual, a .22 rifle to keep away wild dogs. It was the last evening of his life.

Stolen Education: The Legacy of Hispanic Racism in Schools (2013)

This documentary tells the story of Mexican-American school children who challenged discrimination in Texas schools in the 1950s and changed the face of education in the Southwest. Eight students testified in a federal court case in 1956 to end a patently discriminatory practice: assigning Mexican American students to first grade for three years — “beginner, low and high” — in order for the “retardation of Latin children” not to adversely impact the education of white children (Hernandez et al. v. Driscoll Consolidated Independent School District). It was one of the first post-Brown desegregation court cases to be litigated.

Chicano! History of the Mexican-American Civil Rights Movement (1996)

This four-part landmark documentary series, now a classic, chronicles the struggle for equality and social justice of the Mexican American community in the United States from 1965 to 1975. Produced from Austin, Texas, it features the Chicano land struggle, Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers,  the Los Angeles high school walkouts and the creation of the political party La Raza Unida.

Kanopy has thousands of titles on thousands of topics; UD students, faculty and staff can browse all Kanopy titles online.

Five journals on Hispanic studies

The Americas: A Quarterly Review of Latin American History: Full-text access, 1944-present

Arizona Journal of Hispanic Cultural Studies: Full-text access, 1997-present

Journal of Latino-Latin American Studies (JOLLAS): Full-text access, 2003-present

Journal of the Southwest: Full-text access, 1987-present

Hispanic Research Journal (Iberian and Latin American Studies): Full-text access, 2003-present (one-year embargo)

Five works of fiction by Hispanic authors

OK … six. (How can we only choose five?)

The Guardians (Ana Castillo)

This suspenseful novel features sensuous, smart and fiercely independent Tía Regina eking out a living as a teacher’s aide in a small New Mexican border town. She is also raising her teenage nephew, Gabo, who has entered the country illegally and aspires to the priesthood. When Gabo’s father, Rafa, disappears while crossing over from Mexico, Regina fears the worst.

Lost City Radio (Daniel Alarcón)

For 10 years, Norma has been the on-air voice of consolation and hope for the Indians in the mountains and the poor from the barrios — a people broken by war's violence. As the host of Lost City Radio, she reads the names of those who have disappeared — those whom the furiously expanding city has swallowed. Through her efforts, lovers are reunited, and the lost are found. But in the aftermath of the bloody, decade-long civil conflict, her own life is about to forever change, thanks to the arrival of a young boy from the jungle who provides a cryptic clue to the fate of Norma's vanished husband.

Caramelo (Sandra Cisneros)

Every year, Ceyala “Lala” Reyes’ family — aunts, uncles, mothers, fathers, and Lala’s six older brothers — packs up three cars and, in a wild ride, drive from Chicago to the Little Grandfather and Awful Grandmother's house in Mexico City for the summer. Struggling to find a voice above the boom of her brothers and to understand her place on both sides of the border, Lala is a shrewd observer of family life. But when she starts telling the Awful Grandmother's life story, seeking clues to how she got to be so awful, Grandmother accuses Lala of exaggerating. Soon, a multigenerational family narrative turns into a whirlwind exploration of storytelling, lies and life.

Maya’s Notebook (Isabel Allende)

After the death of her beloved grandfather, nineteen-year-old Maya Vidal, turning to drugs, alcohol, and petty crimes, becomes trapped in a war between assassins, the police, the FBI, and Interpol, until her grandmother helps her escape to the remote island of Chiloé, off coast of Chile where she tries to make sense of her life. Maya, a young American on the run records in her diary her adjustment to a new country, her drug problems, her romantic life, and other developments. (Translated from Spanish by Anne McLean)

The Book of Unknown Americans (Cristina Henríquez)

When 15-year-old Maribel Rivera sustains a terrible injury, the Riveras leave behind a comfortable life in Mexico and risk everything to come to the United States so that Maribel can have the care she needs. Once they arrive, Maribel attracts the attention of Mayor Toro, the son of one of their new neighbors, who sees a kindred spirit in this beautiful, damaged outsider. Their love story sets in motion events that will have profound repercussions for everyone involved.

Like Water for Chocolate (Laura Esquivel)

This classic love story takes place on the De la Garza ranch as the tyrannical owner, Mama Elena, chops onions at the kitchen table in her final days of pregnancy. While still in her mother's womb, her daughter weeps so violently she causes an early labor, and little Tita slips out amid the spices and fixings for noodle soup. This early encounter with food soon becomes a way of life, and Tita grows up to be a master chef, using cooking to express herself and sharing recipes with readers along the way.

Five works of nonfiction on Hispanic heritage

From the Jaws of Victory: The Triumph and Tragedy of Cesar Chavez and the Farm Worker Movement (Matt Garcia)

This is a comprehensive history on the meteoric rise and precipitous decline of the United Farm Workers, the most successful farm labor union in United States history. Based on little-known sources and oral histories with veterans of the farm worker movement, this book revises popular understanding about the UFW.

A Nation of Women: An Early Feminist Speaks Out (Luisa Capetillo)

Luisa Capetillo is best known in popular culture as the first woman to wear men’s trousers. The splash of recognition following her arrest and acquittal for her choice of clothing in 1915 overshadows her contributions to the women's movement and the anarchist labor movements in her native Puerto Rico and in the migrant labor belt from Tampa to New York. This volume combines a facsimile of the original Spanish edition with the first English translation of Capetillo's landmark Mi opinión sobre las libertades, derechos y deberes de la mujer, originally published in Spanish in 1911 — which many consider the first feminist treatise in Puerto Rico and one of the first in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Latino Americans: The 500-Year Legacy that Shaped a Nation (Ray Suarez)

Sharing the personal struggles and successes of immigrants, poets, soldiers, and many others, this companion to a PBS miniseries (also available in Roesch Library) explores the lives of Latino American men and women over a 500-year-span who have made an impact on history.

The History of the National Encuentros: Hispanic Americans in the One Catholic Church (Mario J. Paredes)

Fifty years after the closing of the Second Vatican Council, the Catholic Church began its implementation with the creation of consultative bodies at all levels of the church. This book examines the response of Hispanic American Catholics to the spirit of the Second Vatican Council.

Our America: A Hispanic History of the United States (Felipe Fernández-Armesto)

The United States is still typically conceived of as an offshoot of England, with its history unfolding east to west beginning with the first English settlers in Jamestown. This view diminishes the significance of America’s Hispanic past, even as the profile of the United States becomes increasingly Hispanic. This narrative presents the United States’ Hispanic past with insight and wit.

— Maureen Schlangen, e-scholarship and communications manager, is a member of the University Libraries diversity and inclusion team.

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