Juan Villoro, Author and Journalist - Virtual Lecture: The Obsidian Mirror: Literature and Archaeology in Mexico


Thursday, October 15, 2020, 6:00pm


Virtual Lecture

The Eduardo Matos Moctezuma Lecture Series

Juan Villoro, Author and Journalist

Virtual Lecture: The Obsidian Mirror: Literature and Archaeology in Mexico

October 15, 2020, 6:00 pm

Co-sponsored by the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, the Harvard Divinity School, the Moses Mesoamerican Archive, and the Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology.

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Mexican authors Octavio Paz, Carlos Fuentes, José Emilio Pacheco, Salvador Novo, Rubén Bonifaz Nuño, and Rosario Castellanos, among others, have sought to use language to explore and recover the links between Mexico’s Indigenous peoples and its contemporary society. Focusing on Mexico’s pre-Hispanic past, Juan Villoro will explore the intimate and evocative relationships among literature, archaeology, and culture.

Juan Villoro is a prize-winning author, playwright, journalist, and screenwriter whose work addresses an impressive array of topics with insight, dark humor, and irony: canonical Mexican literature; the Zapatista insurrection in Chiapas; the legacy of Mexico’s Cristero War; the intersections of popular television and fiction genres; and the social and cultural functions of spectator sports like boxing and soccer. He is one of Mexico's most prolific living authors and a world-renowned public intellectual.

His journalistic and literary work has been recognized with such international prizes as the Iberoamerican Awards José Donoso and Manuel Rojas, both awarded in Chile; in Spain, the Herralde Prize for his novel El testigo, and the LIBER Prize for the most distinguished Latin American writer; in Argentina, the ACE Award for his play Philosophy of Life; and in Cuba, the José María Arguedas Award for his novel Arrecife. His journalism has been recognized with the Rey de España and Ciudad de Barcelona Awards. He was also the winner of the Manuel Vázquez Montalbán International Award for his football chronicles God is Round; and Mexico’s Xavier Villaurrutia literary award. His novels have sold more than one million copies, and they have been translated into a dozen languages.

Villoro has been a professor of literature at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), and a visiting professor at Yale University, Princeton University, Stanford University, Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona, ​​and at the New Journalism Foundation, created by Gabriel García Márquez. From 1995 to 1998 he directed La Jornada Weekly, a supplement of the newspaper La Jornada. He is a columnist for the newspapers Reforma and El Periódico de Catalunya. His most recent book is The Horizontal Vertigo: A City Called Mexico (2018). 

This lecture series was created with the generosity of José Antonio Alonso Espinosa to honor the world-renowned Mexican archaeologist Eduardo Matos Moctezuma. Juan Villoro's talk is the fourth in the series by major Mexican scholars including Matos Moctezuma, Alfredo López Austin, Javier Garciadiego, and Diana Magaloni. This series marks the first time in Harvard's history that a Mexican has been honored in this fashion.



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