News Release| Octavio Paz Conference; Cal State L.A.


Octavio Paz conference coordinator:
Professor Roberto Cantú, Department of Chicano Studies
California State University, Los Angeles
(323) 343-2195,

Conference program: 


CSULA to fete legacy of Octavio Paz May 14-15
– A global merger of poetry, politics, diplomacy

In free public conference, scholars from Japan, Canada, Mexico, U.S.
to explore Nobel laureate’s impact, from avant-garde to Indian embassy

Los Angeles, CA – Born in Mexico in 1914, Octavio Paz became one of the world’s foremost poets and essayists. Now, 20 years after he received the Nobel Prize for Literature and 12 years after his death, scholars from varied disciplines will gather at Cal State L.A. Friday and Saturday, May 14 and 15, to examine his legacy in a conference titled, “World Civilizations, Modernity, and Octavio Paz:  A Plurality of Pasts and Futures.”

The conference, which is free and open to the public, will be in the University’s Golden Eagle Ballroom.  The conference begins each day at 8:30 a.m. (presentations at 9 a.m.). Friday’s sessions continue until 8 p.m.; Saturday’s until 6 p.m., followed by a banquet.

Several Cal State L.A. faculty members will serve as panelists. They will be joined by scholars from Japan, Canada, Mexico, and the United States. Other California institutions represented include UCLA,  Stanford University, Fresno State University, and Pasadena City College.

The international fascination with Paz stems from his wide-ranging career, including serving as Mexico’s ambassador to India in the 1960s and translating Chinese poetry. As the editor of literary journals, he promoted literate culture in Latin America.  He also lived in France, England and the United States.

“Paz’s perspective on politics is original,” according to Jaime Perales Contreras, a participating scholar from Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México. “He always underscored that the debate in his magazine came not from social scientists, but from writers and artists. For Paz, art and literature were tools to criticize politics. Paz...believed that writers and intellectuals are not better or worse than the rest of humankind, only different.”

With five featured speakers and numerous panels, topics will include “collective creation,” cultural criticism, India, Japanese culture, political thought, and how poetry is made and translated. The schedule is here:

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Working for California since 1947: The 175-acre hilltop campus of California State University, Los Angeles is at the heart of a major metropolitan city, just five miles from Los Angeles’ civic and cultural center. More than 20,000 students and 210,000 alumni—with a wide variety of interests, ages and backgrounds—reflect the city’s dynamic mix of populations. Six Colleges offer nationally recognized science, arts, business, criminal justice, engineering, nursing, education and humanities programs, among others, led by an award-winning faculty. Cal State L.A. is home to the critically-acclaimed Luckman Jazz Orchestra and to a unique university center for gifted students as young as 12. Programs that provide exciting enrichment opportunities to students and community include an NEH- and Rockefeller-supported humanities center; a NASA-funded center for space research; and a growing forensic science program, housed in the Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center.


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