Hola! Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month


Publication Date: 9/28/2009

Hispanic Heritage Month, which celebrates Hispanic culture and recognizes the contributions of Hispanic Americans to the United States, began in 1968 as a week under President Lyndon Johnson and was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to a 30-day period (September 15-October 15).

September 15 is the day five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, declared independence in 1821.

Dr. Eric Henager, associate professor in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures and a 1989 Rhodes alumnus, explains the importance of Hispanic Heritage Month: “People think that learning other languages and cultures outside of your own community is important for international travel, but the focus of Hispanic Heritage Month is that language and culture learning can actually be important for understanding your own community.”

Henager encourages students to celebrate the month by exploring the plurality of Hispanic literature, as different strands of literature grow out of the Mexican tradition, the Puerto Rican community, the Cuban-American community, and many others.

He recommends two novels from Mexican-American literature—Tomás Rivera’s The Earth Did Not Swallow Him and Ana Castillo’s So Far From God. Henager also suggests Dreaming in Cuban by Cristina Garcia from the Cuban-American offerings and Junot Díaz’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao for Dominican literature. Henager recommends Down These Mean Streets by Piri Thomas as one option for exploring U.S.-Puerto Rican literature.

Although Rhodes will hold film screenings and other activities to celebrate the month, Henager encourages students to venture off campus and into the Hispanic community by attending events held by organizations such as Latino Memphis. “You’re able to participate more in your community if you know a little about every piece of it, and Hispanic culture is a huge piece of lots of communities in the U.S.,” says Henager.

For media interested in speaking with Dr. Henager
Phone: (901) 843-3580
Email: henager@rhodes.edu


Rhodes will host the following events to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month:

September 29, 4 p.m. in Orgill Room, Clough Hall
"Archaeology, National Identity, and the Coup in Honduras: the Role of the Ancient Maya" a talk by Darío Euraque, Director of the Honduran Institute of Anthropology and History Satire in Latin American Film: “Guatanamera” (1995)

October 12, 6 p.m. in Barret 051
Film and Discussion: “Afrocubanism, Nation and Satire in Contemporary Cuba”
Coffee & Cookies

(information compiled by Rhodes Student Associate Brianna McCullough ′10)