Monday, March 18, 2013

Spotlight on Barbara Brinson Curiel

A graduate of Mills College and Stanford University, with a Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Cruz, Barbara Brinson Curiel is a Professor in the Departments of English and Critical Race, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Humboldt State University. Her areas of interest include Chicana/o and Latina/o Literatures, Chicana Feminisms, Women of Color Feminisms, and Transnational Literatures.

Professor Curiel is a bilingual speaker who is attentive to the issues of borderlands cultures and identities. She focuses her scholarship on the work of authors Sandra Cisneros, Helena María Viramontes and Ana Castillo. Professor Curiel has served as the Director of the Ethnic Studies Program, and supervises Master’s Theses in the English Department.

Her publications include:

• “Writing in the Disciplinary Borderlands” MFS: Modern Fiction Studies 54.2 (2008): 405-412.

• “Sandra Cisneros, Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories.” Reading U.S. Latina Writers: Remapping American Literature. 51-60. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003.

• “The General's Pants: A Chicana Feminist (Re)Vision of the Mexican Revolution in Sandra Cisneros's ‘Eyes of Zapata’.” Western American Literature 35.4 (2001): 403-427.

Speak to Me from Dreams. Berkeley: Third Woman Press, 1989.

Professor Curiel was named the 2012 winner of the Levine Prize in Poetry for her book, Mexican Jenny and Other Poems. The award includes publication this fall by Anhinga Press and a $2,000 prize. The Philip Levine Prize in Poetry is an annual book contest proudly sponsored by the M.F.A. Program at California State University, Fresno.

Finally, I note that Professor Curiel is featured in the just released book, Rebozos de Palabras: An Helena María Virmontes Critical Reader (University of Arizona Press), edited by Gabriella Gutiérrez y Muhs. Her essay is titled, “’Had They Been Heading for the Barn All Along?’: Viramontes’s Chicana Feminist Revision of Steinbeck’s Migrant Family” where she compares and contrasts Viramontes’s now classic novel, Under the Feet of Jesus, with John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath. After reading Professor Curiel’s brilliant and sensitive analysis, I was compelled to find my yellowed copy of Under the Feet of Jesus  to reread it after almost two decades.


In case you missed it, I was interviewed in a segment that ran on KCET's SoCal Connected last Thursday regarding the Church abuse scandal. You may watch the segment here.

My participation arose from my recent op-ed in the New York Times regarding one of the more notorious priests and how I used his role in my grammar school for the title story in my first short-story collection that was published a decade ago, Assumption and Other Stories (Bilingual Press, 2003).

My good friend of 40 years, Jaime Romo, is also interviewed. He talks candidly and eloquently about the abuse he suffered. Jaime is a brave man who has created a healthy life for himself (with a wonderful wife and three great kids) and now counsels abuse victims in San Diego.

The producers of the segment did an incredible job not only in telling the story, but also in digging deep into the documents and other evidence that have come to light recently through litigation filed by victims. Their analysis of the documents shows a disturbing trend: priests who were accused or admitted to abusing children were often "dumped" in Latino and other poorer communities. The documents reveal other patterns but I'll leave it to you to watch the segment.

I note that Gustavo Arellano, award-winning author and managing editor of the OC Weekly, spent a decade writing about the notorious priest who had served at my parish, the late Father Al Ramos. So, I must offer kudos to journalists such as Gustavo and to the brave survivors of clergy abuse for coming forward to fight for justice.

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