The annual Latin American Heritage Month, running Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 will feature events ranging from a book launch to speakers to literature and art on the SUNY Oswego campus.

Roberta (Rosie) Hurtado, an associate professor in the English and Creative Writing Department and a 2023 Fellow at SUNY Hispanic Leadership Institute (HLI), coordinates many of the events.

“This semester is our campus’ largest series of events that is coming together in celebration of the heritage month and our cultures,” said Hurtado, who also directs the university’s Latino and Latin American studies program and serves as a Fellow for SUNY Oswego’s Triandiflou Institute for Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Transformative Practice.

Hurtado is pleased that so many members of the campus community have come together to coordinate and support these events, especially over the past several years. This spirit of cooperation dovetails with the May 2022 launch of the Latino and Latin American studies program that draws from eight academic departments. 

“It is a labor of love and collaboration,” Hurtado said of the new academic program. “It’s all of these different areas of energies coming together.” 

Hurtado can say the same about the month’s programming, which includes support and contributions from so many different organizations and entities around campus.

Distinguished visitors and book launch

Monday, Oct. 2, is a particularly big day as it features events with internationally renowned ceramicist Verónica Castillo and Josie Méndez-Negrete, a professor emerita of the University of Texas at San Antonio and independent publisher, for the official launch of their co-authored book, "Rooted in Clay: El Arte de Verónica Castillo."

The pair will give a talk on “Voces Past and Present: Rooted in Clay & Latina Feminist Visions,” via Zoom at 10:20 a.m. that day, and also speak to additional classes.

That afternoon, Castillo and Méndez-Negrete will take part in the English and Creative Writing Department’s Living Writers Series at 3 p.m., also available via Zoom.

Their Oct. 2 visit will culminate with a book launch, signing and reception event, titled “Sculpting Life,” from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., in the Park Hall Atrium. This event, which welcomes the greater community as well, unfolds in partnership with the independent River’s End Bookstore in Oswego.

The Modern Languages and Literatures Department also invites students and faculty to the Caribbean Voices speaking engagements throughout the semester, featuring scholars from neighboring universities who will explore topics such as performance, music and Afrofuturism in the Caribbean.

The next installment features Vialcary Crisóstomo of the University of Rochester presenting "From Quisqueya to NYC. Navigating Dominican Identity through Josefina Báez's 'Dominicanish,'" at 5 p.m., Sept. 27, in the Marano Campus Center auditorium. Crisóstomo will analyze the performance text "Dominicanish" (2000), exploring how the Dominicanyork identity portrayed by performer Báez is in constant dialogue and conflict with the state’s conception of "Dominicanidad" as white, heteronormative and geographically limited.  

Happening earlier (10:20 a.m.) on Sept. 27 via Zoom is “Voces AfroBoricuas: Meanings of Home & Alternative Ways of Knowing.” Award-winning novelist Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa and Hurtado will discuss what it means to construct a novel featuring AfroBoricua protagonists and Llanos-Figueroa’s artistic process for exploring untold histories of Puerto Rico. 

Sept. 27 also will feature a Living Writers Series visit from U.S. Poet Laureate Emeritus Juan Felipe Herrera, at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 27. Herrera will engage the campus community and public with a virtual reading and conversation via Zoom that is open and free of charge. 

Literature, art and expression

A standing highlight is a first-floor display promoting Latinx authors in Penfield Library. Hurtado started that with former Penfield librarian Sharona Ginsberg in 2016, “to highlight authors and books that students might be interested in,” Hurtado noted. “As time progressed, the display got bigger and bigger. One year, it had the distinction of having the most books taken out in any library display.”

This year, Michelle Bishop of Penfield Library and Oluwatosin Adebiyi of the Triandiflou Institute coordinated a collection of books, all of which are available to be checked out, and artwork. 

Hurtado looks forward to an event in Albany connected to her time with the SUNY HLI program, “Voces Transcending: Latino Literary Expression Now,” at 3 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 12, at the SUNY System Administration building in Albany.

This event is a celebration of the month’s events with Ricardo Nazario y Colón, SUNY’s newly appointed vice chancellor and an acclaimed poet, Hurtado and Leonardo Falcón, an HLI Fellow from Nassau Community College. They will explore the process for creating literary expression, the meaning of representation among the arts and the importance of cultural aesthetics from Latinx communities in contributing to the tapestry of U.S. identity.

Nazario y Colón has two books of poetry, and is an inspiring figure, Hurtado said. In addition, “the plan is to have students present reading their poetry, showing us the future,” Hurtado noted. “I’m so proud to participate in this event, and especially that people will see all the great work we do at Oswego.” 

In addition to the aforementioned, additional SUNY Oswego partners for campus events include Artswego; the Institute for Global Engagement; the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; Hart Hall; Oswego Grand Challenges; the Department of Curriculum and Instruction; and the Native American Studies program.