Students Attend Presentation on Octavio Paz

Dr. Laura Dennis and UC professor Dr. Ela Molina Morelock stand with Molina Morelock's fellow contributors on a recent collection of articles about Octavio Paz.

University of the Cumberlands (UC) invited an author and editor of “Octavio Paz: Laberintos del poeta y ensayista,” a volume of essays about the Nobel Prize-winning poet from Mexico, to speak with students about Paz’s life and poetry on Wednesday, Jan. 18.

Dr. Ela Molina Morelock, a professor of Spanish at UC, is one of the authors featured in the collection. Molina Morelock and Dr. Laura Dennis, chair of the World Languages Department, organized the presentation.

“Students were able to observe the importance of going beyond themselves and their comfort zones,” Molina Morelock said. “We are educating students to be successful and productive professionals. International networking can be productive at an individual level, at an academic level and as a society.”

The evening started with Dennis introducing the two guest speakers: María Norma Jiménez Kaiser and Dr. Ricardo Camarena Castellanos, both of whom are from the University of Ottawa in Canada. Jiménez Kaiser is one of the book’s authors and the general coordinator of the Colloquium Homage to Octavio Paz, while Camarena Castellanos served as the book’s editor.

Jiménez Kaiser first acquainted students with Paz’s work by reading a selection of his more famous quotes before giving the audience background on the poet and the conference she organized in his honor. Jiménez Kaiser, in her speech, also encouraged students to learn more not only about Paz, but about the Spanish language and culture.

“Try to be translators,” Jiménez Kaiser said. “A translator has to come up with their own interpretations of languages, cultures and people.”

After Jiménez Kaiser finished speaking, Camarena Castellanos then discussed how anyone can relate to Paz’s poetry, saying, “Every person should read Paz at least once in their lifetime.”

Once the speakers finished their presentations, students had time to ask questions about Paz and their research.

“I learned more about the history of Spanish culture, specifically Octavio Paz’s contribution to it,” said Julia Higginbotham, a junior from Williamsburg. “I think it’s really refreshing to hear different scholars come in and speak of the connections between Paz and the Spanish culture we know today.”

Camarena Castellanos and Jiménez Kaiser have spoken at several institutions, both in the United States and Canada, about their research on Paz. They will be concluding their tour at Paz’s alma mater, the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

“We are very grateful that they took the time to visit and speak with us here at University of the Cumberlands,” Molina Morelock said.

Located in Williamsburg, Kentucky, University of the Cumberlands is an institute of regional distinction that currently offers four undergraduate degrees in more than 40 major areas of study; 10 pre-professional programs; 10 graduate degrees distributed over eight areas, including two doctorates and seven master’s degrees; certificates in education; and online programs.