Two U.S. Women and the Mexican Cultural Renaissance: Alma Reed, “La Peregrina” and Frances “Paca” Toor
Besides their shared nationality and interest in Mexican culture, these women functioned as early bicultural bridges that fomented a growing understanding between two countries that had historically regarded one another with suspicion and rancor on the one side, indifference on the other. Moreover, these women promoted the rediscovery of things Mexican by the citizens of Mexico and the United States alike, often through the study and diffusion of pre-Hispanic art that would eventually both inspire and inform revolutionary artistic movements such as the so-called “Mexican School” of painting. Their work was accomplished through bilingual publications, gallery exhibitions, and writers’ workshops they organized both in the U.S. and Mexico.
Michael K. Schuessler is Professor of Humanities at the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana in Mexico City, where he teaches courses dedicated to Latin American art and literature, pre-Columbian Mexico, and colonial Mexico. He received his Ph.D. in Hispanic Languages and Literatures from the University of California, Los Angeles, where he specialized in the literature and arts of colonial Latin America, particularly New Spain.
He is the author of many articles devoted to the interpretation of Latin American literature and culture as well as several books: La undécima musa: Guadalupe Amor (Ed. Diana 1995), Elena Poniatowska: an Intimate Portrait (University of Arizona Press, 2007).
In 2006, University of Texas Press published his edition of Alma Reed’s autobiography, entitled Peregrina: Love and Death in Mexico. His most recent book, Artes de fundación: teatro evangelizador y pintura mural en la Nueva España, was published by the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México in 2009 and will be published in English by the University of Arizona Press next year. He has just finished editing a collaborative volume on gay culture in Mexico -the first of its kind- entitled México se escribe con jota: una historia de la cultura gay (Editorial Planeta, 2010).