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Durham University

School of Modern Languages & Cultures

Events in Modern Languages & Cultures

Inaugural Lecture by Professor Andrea Noble: 'Tears (and Laughter) in the Mexican Revolution'

21st May 2010, 17:30, ER141, Elvet Riverside I, Durham University

Professor Andrea Noble will be giving her inaugural lecture entitled 'Tears (and Laughter) in the Mexican Revolution' on Friday 21 May 2010.  Professor Noble is a member of the School of Modern Languages & Cultures at Durham University.  She is currently Deputy Head of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities (Research).


In December 1914, Mexico City was temporarily occupied by the peasant armies of Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata, protagonists located at the socially radical spectrum of the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920). This event provided a series of opportunities to be photographed and filmed at symbolic sites at the heart of the nation, including an image in which Pancho Villa was captured weeping melodramatically at the tomb of the assassinated revolutionary hero, Francisco I. Madero. Subsequently, as the essentially conservative post-revolutionary regimes installed themselves in power, it was photo opportunities such as those made in December 1914, at the height of revolution's 'social curve', that continued to circulate. Projecting an image of the struggle as a moment of rupture to the established order, such images were consonant with and lent legitimacy to the hegemonic project of revolutionary nationalism.

As Mexico celebrates the centenary of the Revolution and images of its popular heroes start to circulate with renewed vigour, this lecture homes in on the photograph and associated film footage taken on 8 December 1914, capturing Pancho Villa weeping at the tomb of Madero. Building on insights from the emerging, interdisciplinary work on what one commentator has (playfully) termed 'lachrymology', it asks how an analysis of the poetics and politics of tears shed at the height of the revolution's 'social curve' might illuminate our understanding of Villa as a contradictory figure within Mexican cultural history and memory. At the same time, this lecture aims to illustrate the place of Modern Languages and Cultures as a disciplinary field at the centre of any university with international aspirations, equipping students not only with core language skills, but also, crucially, intercultural and historical understanding.

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