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George Vlahakis
IU Media Relations

Last modified: Thursday, March 25, 2004

Acclaimed essayist Richard Rodríguez to visit IU Bloomington on April 1-2

Richard Rodriguez

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Richard Rodríguez, a son of Mexican immigrants, whose award-winning essays about ethnicity and cultural identity have sparked discussion and debate, will visit Indiana University Bloomington on April 1-2 and participate in three public events.

Rodríguez, an editor for the Pacific News Service in San Francisco and a contributing editor of Harper's and the Sunday Opinion section of The Los Angeles Times, won a Peabody Award in 1997 for his essays on public television's The News Hour with Jim Lehrer. In 1992, he was presented with the Charles Frankel Prize by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

He will lead a roundtable discussion and present a lecture on Thursday (April 1) at the Indiana Memorial Union, 900 E. 7th St., and be part of a public conversation on Friday (April 2), also in the IMU.

The roundtable discussion will begin at 2:30 p.m. in the IMU Oak Room. Joining Rodriguez will be John Eakin, the Ruth N. Halls Professor Emeritus of English; Raymond Hedin, professor of English; Vivian Nun Halloran, assistant professor of comparative literature; and Jorge Chapa, director and professor of Latino studies. Luis Dávila, director and professor of Chicano-Riqueño studies, will serve as moderator.

At 4 p.m., Rodríguez will present a lecture titled "New Ways of Thinking About American Diversity" in Whittenberger Auditorium of the IMU. A reception will follow in the University Club in the IMU. The next day, from 10 a.m. to noon, he and Dávila will meet for a public conversation in the Oak Room of the IMU. Audience participation will be encouraged.

Rodriguez has been called one of America's most important essayists and a master of the personal essay. He writes about the intersection of his personal life with some of the great vexing issues of America.

Rodríguez is author of the intellectual autobiography, Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez (David R. Godine, 1982). Widely celebrated and criticized, this book is today read in many American high schools and colleges. A memoir of a "scholarship boy," Hunger is controversial for its skepticism regarding bilingual education and affirmative action.

In 1992, Rodríguez published Days of Obligation: An Argument with My Mexican Father (Viking Press), a "philosophical travel book" concerned with the moral landscape separating "Protestant America" and "Catholic Mexico." It was a runner-up for the 1993 Pulitzer Prize in nonfiction. In 2002, he published Brown: The Last Discovery of America (Viking Press).

Rodriguez has degrees in English from Stanford University and religious studies from Columbia University. His visit is made possible by support from the Office of the Chancellor, the Office for Student Development and Diversity, the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, and the Chicano-Riqueño Studies Program at IU Bloomington.