Jorge Téllez is an Associate Professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Pennsylvania, where he teaches colonial Latin American cultures and contemporary Mexican literature and film. His current research focuses on topics of cultural memory and colonial legacies in Latin America, past and present. His most recent book, The Picaresque and the Writing Life in Mexico (Notre Dame UP, 2021), studies the development of the Mexican literary field through the lens of the picaresque from the 16th to the 21st century. Currently, he is working on a book-length project on how contemporary Latin American societies have reflected on their colonial past through art, literature, and other initiatives from cultural institutions and the government. He is the general editor of the Hispanic Review.
Wolf Humanities Center Penn Faculty Fellow
2022—2023 Forum on Heritage
Associate Professor, Department of Spanish and Portuguese
Latin American Cultural Heritage: Narratives of the Past, Fictions of the Future
How does art engage Latin American cultural heritage? This project aims to answer this question from a two-fold perspective. First, it studies how contemporary Latin American literature and film reflect on museums, material culture, collecting practices, and cultural memory. In this first part of the project, I analyze literary and cinematic works--from realism to sci-fi, from drama to documentary-- that deal with Latin American cultural heritage's rich and complex history to reinterpret the past and imagine possible futures. Second, it examines how modern Latin American societies have exploited their colonial legacies as a source of political, economic, and aesthetic value. This second part of my research project includes case studies from urban and architectural sites, museums, and private and public libraries to initiatives from non-profit organizations, financial institutions, and governments.