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Lest Silence Be Destructive: A Celebration of Chicana Feminism and the Work of Helena María Viramontes

Saturday, October 21, 2023

A. D. White House, Guerlac Room
29 East Ave, Ithaca, NY 14850, USA

A morning a panel of scholars will discuss Chicana feminism and Helena María Viramontes’s central role in its development. Afternoon readings feature Cornell alumni Manuel Muñoz and Jeanine Capó Crucet. The day will be crowned with a reading by Professor Viramontes and a staged reading of Vicki Grise’s adaptation of Their Dogs Came with Them.

Please also join us Friday, October 20 for a special work in progress viewing of Riding the Currents of the Wilding Wind.

The following schedule of events takes place at the A.D. White House.

9:30am: The Impact and Legacy of Helena María Viramontes 

  • John Alba Cutler, Associate Professor of English, University of California, Berkeley
  • Dean Franco, Winifred W. Palmer Professor of English, Wake Forest University
  • Rosaura Sanchez, Professor Emerita of Latin American and Chicano Literature, University of California, San Diego

1:30pm: Tribute to Helena María Viramontes by Cherríe Moraga, poet, playwright-director, writer-essaying, educator and cultural activitist

2:00pm: Reading by Manuel Muñoz, MFA ‘98

  • Manuel Muñoz’s most recent collection of short stories, The Consequences, was a finalist for the Aspen Words Literary Prize and longlisted for the Story Prize. He is the author of two previous collections of short stories, Zigzagger and The Faith Healer of Olive Avenue, which was shortlisted for the 2007 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award, and a novel, What You See in the Dark. Muñoz is the recipient the 2023 Joyce Carol Oates Prize. He has been recognized with a Whiting Writer’s Award, three O. Henry Awards, and two selections in Best American Short Stories, and was awarded the 2023 Joyce Carol Oates Prize. A native of Dinuba, California, Muñoz has been on the faculty of the University of Arizona’s creative writing program since 2008.

3:30pm:  Reading by Jennine Capó Crucet, BA '03  

  • Jennine Capó Crucet is a novelist, essayist, and screenwriter. A recipient of an O. Henry Prize and a former Contributing Opinion Writer for The New York Times, she’s the author of three books: the novel Make Your Home Among Strangers, which won the International Latino Book Award; the multiple award-winning story collection How to Leave Hialeah; and the essay collection My Time Among the Whites: Notes from an Unfinished Education, long-listed for the PEN/Open Book Award. Born and raised in Miami to Cuban parents, her fourth book, a novel titled Say Hello To My Little Friend, is forthcoming from Simon & Schuster.

4:30pm:  Reading by Helena María Viramontes, followed by Q&A with Paula Moya, PhD ’98, Danily C. and Laura Louise Bell Professor of the Humanities, Stanford University

  • Helena María Viramontes is the author of The Moths and Other Stories and two novels, Under the Feet of Jesus and Their Dogs Came With Them.  She has also co-edited with Maria Herrera Sobek, two collections: Chicana (W) rites: On Word and Film and Chicana Creativity and Criticism. A recipient of numerous awards and honors, including the John Dos Passos Award for Literature, and a United States Artist Fellowship, her short stories and essays have been widely anthologized and her writings have been adopted for classroom use and university study. Her work is the subject of a critical reader titled Rebozos De Palabras edited by Gabrielle Gutierrez y Muhs and published by the University of Arizona Press. A community organizer and former coordinator of the Los Angeles Latino Writers Association, she is a frequent reader and lecturer in the U.S. and internationally. Currently she is completing a draft of her third novel, The Cemetery Boys.

7:00pm: Staged reading of excerpts of Their Dogs Came With Them by Helena María Viramontes, adapted adapted for the stage by Virginia Grise

  • Performers: Karen Jaime, Deb Vargas, Cherríe Moraga, Belinda Rincón, and Manuel Muñoz
  • Virginia Grise writes plays set in bars without windows, barrio rooftops, and lesbian bedrooms. She is a recipient of the Alpert Award in the Arts, Yale Drama Award, Whiting Writers’ Award, and the Princess Grace Award in Theatre Directing. Her published work includes Your Healing is Killing Me (Plays Inverse Press), blu (Yale University Press), The Panza Monologues co-written with Irma Mayorga (University of Texas Press) and an edited volume of Zapatista communiqués titled Conversations with Don Durito (Autonomedia Press). Her interdisciplinary body of work includes plays, multimedia performance, dance theater, performance installations, guerilla theater, site specific interventions, and community gatherings. She is a founding member of a todo dar productions, an alumnae of the Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab, the Women's Project Theatre Lab & the NALAC Leadership Institute. Grise has been a Hodder Fellow at Princeton University, a Matakyev Research Fellow for the Imagination in the Borderlands at Arizona State University, a Jerome Fellow at the Playwright’s Center, and a Herberger Institute Projecting All Voices Fellow at Arizona State University. Currently, she is the Mellon Foundation Playwright in Residence at Cara Mia Theatre. Virginia has taught writing for performance at the university level, as a public school teacher, in community centers, women’s prisons and in the juvenile correction system. She holds an MFA in Writing for Performance from the California Institute of the Arts.

This event is presented by the Department of Literatures in English / Creative Writing Program and sponsored by Minority, Indigenous & Third World Studies (MITWS) at Cornell University. 

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