News: Hispanic Studies Spring 2020

Cross-disciplinary Panel on the Novel “American Dirt”

'American Dirt' Panel, February 12, 2020On Wednesday, February 12, Prof. Mariana Melo-Vega and Prof. John Riofrío attended a cross-disciplinary panel about the controversy surrounding the recent novel American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins.

The panel was organized by Prof. Katherine Barko-Alva (School of Education); other participants included Prof. Erin Webster (English) and Prof. Jonathan Branfman (Film & Media Studies/Gender, Sexuality & Women’s Studies). American Dirt deals with the journey of a mother and her son to the U.S. border, while escaping the cartels in Mexico. The controversy triggered by the novel, and analyzed at the panel, revolves around the author’s unacknowledged background of privilege as a white American. Discussion was lively, with several panelists defending the novel and speaking of the value of artistic freedom. All agreed on the need to diversify the pool of published authors, as well as the need for empathy in artistic endeavors.