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Guide to the Alurista Papers CEMA 21
CEMA 21  
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Collection Details
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  • Conditions Governing Access note
  • Conditions Governing Use note
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Processing Information note
  • Biographical Sketch
  • Series Description
  • Scope Note

  • Title: Alurista papers
    Identifier/Call Number: CEMA 21
    Contributing Institution: UC Santa Barbara Library, Department of Special Collections
    Language of Material: English
    Container: 22
    Physical Description: 11.0 linear feet (22 document boxes and 1 oversize box)
    Date (inclusive): 1954-2010
    Abstract: Alurista's collection consists of papers and literary manuscripts demonstrating his work as a literary artist. The collection contains certificates and awards, essays, articles, general correspondence, and correspondence relating to his book Flor y Canto en Aztlán. His vast collection of research files show his dedication to poetry and literature, as well as Alurista's interest in Chicano, Mexican-American, and Native American literature. Also included in this collection is footage of Alurista lecturing and reading his writings out loud. There are 23 boxes total, and are located in Del Norte.
    Physical Location: Del Norte.
    Language of Materials: The collection is in English and Spanish.
    creator: Alurista

    Conditions Governing Access note


    Conditions Governing Use note

    Copyright has not been assigned to the Department of Special Collections, UCSB. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Special Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Department of Special Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which also must be obtained.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of Item], Alurista papers, CEMA 21. Department of Special Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

    Acquisition Information

    This collection was donated by Alurista in March 2001.

    Processing Information note

    Salvador Güereña, additional processing by Michelle Wilder, March 21, 2002. Updated by Mari Khasmanyan in 2014.

    Biographical Sketch

    Alurista is one of the leading literary figures during the Chicano Movement era. He is most well known for his support of the Chicano Movement through his literature and poetry. Alurista was an early Chicano activist, credited in helping to establish the Centro Cultural de la Raza in San Diego. During the Chicano Movement Alurista authored significant manifestos of the movement. He was one of the first poets to establish the concept of Aztlán in his writings, a concept that envisions a return to the praises of the Aztec civilization. He is also the co-founder of El Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (MEChA) which when translated, means Chicano student movement of Aztlán, that helped organize the Chicano Studies Program at San Diego State College.
    Alurista was born in Mexico City on August 8, 1947, given the name Alberto Baltazar Urista. It was in 1966 that he began to write ardent poetry for publication and adopted the pen name Alurista, which is the only name he uses now. When Alurista began to publish poetry in the late 1960's he soon became recognized for his dexterity in English, Spanish, Raya, and Nahuatl, and also for blending standard and slang languages in his writings. After coming to the United States as a teenager, Alurista graduated from High school in 1965 and began studying business administration at Chapman College, in Orange, California, only to find that this field was uninteresting to him. He then transferred to San Diego State College and began studying religion. However, when he found the overwhelming dogma of the instructors too much for him, he switched to sociology, then to social welfare. It was at San Diego State that Alurista helped establish MECHA in 1967. During the Denver Youth Conference in 1969, Alurista helped draft El Plan Espiritual de Aztlán (The Spiritual Plan of Aztlán), which offered support to the resolutions being adopted by the conference members. After working as a psychiatric childcare worker and as a counselor, he worked with Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) and the Brown Berets. He then graduated with a BA in psychology from San Diego State in 1970.
    Alurista went on to earn his M.A. from San Diego State in 1978 and then his Ph.D. in literature from the University of California, San Diego in 1983. He focused his dissertation on the novel, The Revolt of the Cockroach People, by Oscar Zeta-Acosta. He has since then published five anthologies of his poetry. He has written many essays and literary criticisms on the Chicano Movement as well as on Chicano culture that have been widely published in anthologies, journals, and newspapers. He has lectured at many colleges, universities, and at other establishments worldwide. Alurista taught at California State Polytechnic College in San Luis Obispo as a professor of Spanish from 1986 to 1990. He has lived in Denver, Colorado, where he was a faculty member at Escuela Tlatelolco teaching Chicano thought, culture, and literature. He also continues to lecture and give readings at universities throughout the country.

    Series Description

    Series I: Personal and Biographical, 1954-1996. This series spans three document boxes and is divided into ten subseries which are as follows: Certificates and Diplomas, which represents almost 30 years of achievements and awards including the poet’s doctorate degree from the University of California at San Diego (arranged chronologically); Essays, about Alurista and his body of work, including a bibliography of works and 2 criticisms (arranged alphabetically by title); Newspaper Articles, which is comprised mostly of articles about Alurista, as well as some interviews and one article written by the poet (arranged chronologically); PhD Spanish Literature, is primarily made up of Report on 3 Graduate Student forms chronicling Alurista’s progress and also includes a small variety of correspondence most importantly of which is a letter certifying Alurista’s completion of the requirements for the degree (ordered chronologically); Photographs, which span from childhood to adulthood and include both personal and professional activities (i.e. performing at La Peña Cultural Center, Berkeley, California, a performance at Festival Floricanto, San Antonio and another at National Association for Chicano Studies Conference; Professional Activities, includes documents relating to conferences, festivals, proposals and symposia such as a selection of flyers, some of which advertise performances by the poet as well as research grant proposals (arranged alphabetically by title); Theses, includes one thesis written about Alurista; Vitae, which is comprised mostly of formal résumés and includes autobiographical statements (due to lack of dates an attempt has been made to preserve the original arrangement). The series also includes a Personal Confidential document box which has been stored in the vault. This box is confidential and will remain closed until ten years following the Donor's death, or the year 2030, whichever comes first.
    Series II: Correspondence, 1969-1993. This series is contained in three document boxes and includes both general correspondence and that which relates to specific themes, such as employment and the poet’s book Flor y Canto en Aztlán (arranged alphabetically by title and chronologically within titles).
    Series III: Writings, 1969-2002. This series spans four document boxes and is divided into 7 subseries which are arranged as follows: Conference Presentations, includes a small variety of topics from Aztlán and identity to the future of Chicano studies; Dissertation, is divided in three sub subseries which are Approved, Component Parts, and Edited Manuscript Drafts (each sub subseries is arranged chronologically); Essays, contains essays by the poet on a variety of topics including one handwritten essay with no title (arranged chronologically); Poetry, includes collections of poetry as well as individual poems which have been gathered in folder by year (or not dated indicated by “n.d.”) and titled “various” (arranged alphabetically by title and chronologically within titles); Miscellany, contains a journal with study notes on literature from UC San Diego, notes on the history of Chicano literature, a screen treatment, a speech for a Chicano graduation and contains the poet’s translation of Hunab Ku an essay originally by Domingo Martínez Paredez.
    Series IV: Research Files, 1848-1994 (bulk dates 1970-1990). This series spans to eleven document boxes and is arranged alphabetically by title. Throughout his academic and personal careers, Alurista collected an astounding number of essays (both published and not), bibliographies, a few poems, and several books which he annotated. While some of the topics vary widely, there are topics, which are more prevalent such as theories on Chicano, Mexican-American and Native American literature.
    Series V: Teaching, Tenure and Promotion Files, 1965-1992. This series is contained within one document box and represents the poet’s academic career in the strictest sense; preserved here are correspondence to and from academic institutions, course materials including descriptions and evaluations, and files relating to tenure and retention. It is arranged alphabetically.
    Series VI: Toltecas en Aztlán, 1970. This series is contained in one folder and includes, among other documents, project proposals, essays and an original list of demands written by the Chicano Caucus concerning Chicano Park and El Centro Cultural de la Raza.
    Series VII: Oversize, 1975-1976. This series contains materials, which have been removed from their original folder placement for the sake of preservation. In cases where material has been removed, an indication has been made in both the original folder and the oversized folder as to the contents origins. This series is arranged alphabetically by title.
    Series VIII: Videos, 2010. This series contains footage of a Alurista reading his poem Scratching Six, Plucking One, Alurista at a symposium on Chicano Literature in 1990, the Alurista Bilingual Poetry Recital, given I New Mexico in 2002, and Alurista giving a lecture on the history and definition of Chicano literature. Materials relating to the Alurista Bilingual Poetry Recital event can be found in Series III: Writings in the sub series titled Poetry. This series is arranged chronologically with undated items first.

    Scope Note

    The collection consists of eight series spanning 23 archival boxes. The collection contains important papers pertaining to Alurista's academic work, (his dissertation, and his class curriculum). It also contains material detailing his interest and work with other Chicano scholars and organizations. The collection helps to illuminate Alurista's interests in poetry and spiritualism. It contains videos Alurista owned, research sources into Chicano issues, as well as correspondence and biographical information including photographs, correspondence, essays and diplomas. For his earlier literary manuscripts researchers will want to consult the Benson Latin-American Collection at the University of Texas, Austin. Alurista's literary manuscripts up to the year 1972 are located there. It is important to note here that there are a number of publications (mostly books) that were a part of Alurista's private library which have been signed by the author with a personal message to Alurista (or to Alurista and Xelina, his wife). These publications have been catalogued separately and can be searched using the library's online catalog, Pegasus.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Chicano movement -- California
    Mexican American poets -- 20th century
    Mexican Americans in literature