Students enrolled in the LSGS 490 seminar on Latino/a Autobiography and Memoir this Spring will be joined by author and artist Lila Quintero Weaver on Wednesday, 8 February, and Los Angeles writer Wendy C. Ortiz on Monday, 6 March.
Lila Quintero Weaver's Darkroom: A Memoir in Black and White (University of Alabama Press, 2012) centers on her family's migration to the Jim Crow South from Argentina in 1961. Her graphic nonfiction work was developed, Publishers Weekly notes, "from Quintero Weaver’s senior project for the University of Alabama’s External Degree Program, which serves adult students returning to school. She produced a miniature graphic novel, which led to an art exhibit on campus, which, in turn, attracted the attention of the University of Alabama Press in December 2007. Daniel Waterman, editor in chief of the U of A Press, noted, 'Lila’s artwork is not only arresting and beautifully expressive, the tone of her prose and her use of dialog struck us as natural, authentic, and persuasive.'" Writing for Public Books, Jean-Cristophe Cloutier remarked that Darkroom "allows for fresh insights into race, language acquisition, and immigration." The memoir, he added, "is deeply invested not only in a photographic sense of seeing, witnessing, and documenting, but is also caught in that liminal moment when 'the latent image flowers' before our very eyes. Eyes are in fact the most recurrent image in the book, staring back at the reader with serenity, racial hatred, fear, shock, love."
Wendy C. Ortiz's Bruja (Civil Coping Mechanisms, 2016) is a "dreamnoir," or in her words: "a narrative derived from the most malleable and revelatory details of ones dreams, catalogued in bold detail. A literary adventure through the boundaries of memoir, where the self is viewed from a position anchored into the deepest recesses of the mind." Ortiz's craft takes us, as the Los Angeles Times put it, to "the undergrowth of Ortiz’s subconscious, catching glimpses of a self projected in shifting constellations." The word bruja, Ortiz noted in an interview with Electric Liti, "is one who can, among other things, live on other planes than just the one we think we know and refer to as reality. In Bruja, I’m describing the world I lived in while asleep, that felt just as real, just as emotional and vibrant and frightening as the world I lived in during the day. In that sense, I lived in two different planes and tried to document that experience. The word bruja, Spanish for witch, then, just references one of the identities I inhabit."