A free seminar on Mexican feminist author and diplomat Rosario Castellanos will be given at the Los Angeles Mission College next week in honor of Women's History Month.
Although considered a major force in Mexican 20th-Century literature, Castellanos is little known outside Latin America.
Born in Mexico City in 1925, the poet, novelist, political orator and ambassador spent most of her life living in Chiapas, where she wrote about the people there and the impact that Spanish colonialism has had on the Chiapas Indians.
In addition to writing, Castellanos also served as the Mexican ambassador to Israel in the early 1970s until she died in 1974.
Her stories--which often delineate characters who are in turn cunning, passionate, lazy and noble--have been compared to those of Russian novelist Feodor Dostoyevsky in style.
Like Dostoyevsky's depictions of late 19th-Century Russia, Castellanos lets the dark elements of the Southern Mexican Indian culture intermingle with her characters' hopes and dreams in an effort to examine the full identity of Chiapas natives.
According to seminar lecturer Mia Phoebus, Castellanos believed the men of Chiapas, who were often alcoholics, wallowed in the oppression imposed upon them by the ruling classes of Mexico.
"Castellanos set out to affirm an Indian mentality in her poems and stories," said Phoebus. "She tells (readers) horrible things about the Indians to take them one step further in understanding the nature of their situation.
"The destruction of the Aztec and Mayan civilizations created a terrible instability among the Indians," Phoebus continued. "The drinking and the laziness is a kind of psychological corruption caused by the Spanish invasion."
The seminar is coordinated by New Horizons, a campus organization that provides counseling to adults looking to get back into school. In addition to providing a healthy and introspective look at the Indian culture in Mexico, Phoebus said she hopes the seminar will inspire participants to do more reading.
"I don't see self-education being very strong in this country anymore," she said. "Most people are not reading today, which is the worst thing that can happen.
"I want to move people to (follow) the great voices of their culture."
The Los Angeles Mission College is located at 13356 Eldridge Ave. The seminar is scheduled to take place at noon in Room 1 of the campus center. Admission is free.
For additional information, call (818) 364-7674.