LECTURE: Melina Vizcaino-Aleman on Fray Angelico's La Conquistadora: The Autobiography of an Ancient Statue
Saturday June 26th at 4:00 p.m.
This lecture will be in our non-fiction room.
Melina Vizcaino-Aleman is a graduate of the American Studies PhD program at the University of New Mexico. Her work concentrates on the history and culture of the Southwest, particularly as it relates to US Hispanic and Chicana/o literature, folklore, and film. She also focuses on the significance of race, class, and ethnicity, as well as critical regional studies. In her dissertation, "Triptych Cultural Critique: Fray Angelico Chavez and Southwestern Critical Regionalism, 1939-2004," she provides a critical biography of New Mexico's twentieth-century Franciscan priest, poet, historian, and man of letters. The dissertation puts Fray Angelico in dialogue with other Southwestern writers, both Anglo and Mexican American, between the years of 1939 and 2004, and it uses religion as a cultural studies paradigm to engage in the development of regional writing and critical regional studies.
For her presentation, she will be presenting a portion of her dissertation on Fray Angelico's La Conquistadora: The Autobiography of an Ancient Statue, a 1954 text published by the Saint Anthony Guild Press and written in the context of the Nuclear Age. Fray Angelico penned La Conquistadora after serving with the military during the Korean War (1950-1953), and he visited the Our Lady of Guadalupe shrine in Extremadura, Spain, while stationed in Europe. He also served as an Army Chaplain for WWII (1942-1946), and he wrote Our Lady of the Conquest, a history of the statue published in 1948 by the New Mexico Historical Society. The autobiography in many ways disputes this previous history using the voice of the statue. By writing the autobiography in the voice of the statue "herself," Fray Angelico uses a literary technique that crosses gender, genre, and generations. The presentation will address the autobiography's cross-gendered voice in three ways: 1) as a way to understand New Mexico's Hispanic religious traditions in a modern era; 2) as a revisionary history and Southwestern cultural performance; and 3) as a response to the US's nuclear development on a global scale.