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January 27, 2005

Award-Winning Playwright and Essayist Cherrie Moraga to Speak at Smith

NORTHAMPTON, Mass.—Playwright and essayist Cherrie Moraga, one of the first writers whose works reflect upon her experiences as both a lesbian and Chicana, will speak at 4:30 p.m., Monday, Feb. 7, in Weinstein Auditorium, Wright Hall. The event is free and open to the public.

Moraga, artist-in-residence in the Stanford University Department of Drama and Department of Spanish and Portuguese, will address the promise of a truly transgressive U.S. literature by people of color in a talk titled “Indigena as Scribe: The (W)Rite to Remember.” Her lecture is the inaugural talk of Smith’s Women, Race & Culture series.

“Cherrie Moraga is arguably the most important Chicana writer of our time—her radical position and ever-evolving activism are always inspirational,” said Nancy Saporta Sternbach, Smith Professor of Spanish and Portuguese who wrote about Moraga in her essay “A Deep Racial Memory of Love.” “At Smith, we study her plays and essays from a variety of disciplinary perspectives and are refreshed with each new reading.”

Daughter of a Chicana mother and Anglo father, Moraga’s childhood was filled with hardship, a narrative that influences her writing. Born in Los Angeles in 1952, Moraga remembers her father leaving when she was a child and her mother, illiterate in the English language, struggling to support the family.

Although Moraga wrote from an early age, her serious works emerged after her “coming out” as a lesbian following her college years. She began publishing books and plays in the 1980s, including the celebrated title “This Bridge Called My Back,” a collection of feminist writings by women of color. Co-edited with Gloria Anzaldua, the publication won the 1986 Before Columbus Foundation American Book Award. Moraga’s 1983 book “Loving in the War Years” became the first published book by an openly lesbian Chicana.

Themes surrounding feminism, ethnicity, sexuality and other gender-related issues are also prominent in Moraga’s plays. Her most recent play, “Watsonville: Some Place Not Here,” addressed what it’s like in California for Mexican immigrants and Latinos in the wake of anti-immigrant propositions. Winner of the Fund for New American Plays Award from the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the play was performed at the Brava Theatre Company of San Francisco in 1996.

Smith’s Women, Race & Culture series links three public lectures around a theme important to courses in the Women’s Studies curriculum. Students will discuss the lectures in their classes this semester.

Office of College Relations
Smith College
Garrison Hall
Northampton, Massachusetts 01063

Kristen Cole
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