Organillero en Coyoacán, Ciudad de México
Organ player in Coyoacan, Mexico City
Photo by NEH Faculty Lettie Ramírez
Mujer indígena vendiendo artesanías, Ciudad de México
Indian woman selling crafts, Mexico City
Photo by NEH Scholar Daniella Quiñones
Niña mexicana vestida de "Catrina", figura popular inspirada por el artista José Guadalupe Posada, Coyoacán, Ciudad de México
Mexican girl dressed as a "Catrina," a popular figure inspired by artist José Guadalupe Posada, Coyoacan, Mexico City
Photo by NEH Faculty A. Stormoen

NEH Mexico City
2011 Summer Institute for School Teachers

Retablo de la Independencia por Juan O'Gorman, Museo Nacional de Historia, Ciudad de México
Independence Mural by Juan O'Gorman National Museum of History, Mexico City.

Dialogues in the Americas:
Mexican Literature and Culture in Context

This NEH Institute was held at La Salle University in Mexico City and nearby locations

July 3rd to July 31st, 2011

Dear Colleague, 
Thank you for inquiring about our NEH Summer Institute, “Dialogues in the Americas: Mexican Literature and Culture in Context,” organized in collaboration with CSU, East Bay and La Salle University in Mexico City. This NEH Summer Institute will be held at La Salle University in Mexico City from July 3rd to July 31st, 2011. The following description offers an overview of the Institute and provides information about the application process. We welcome questions you may have regarding our program and enthusiastically invite you to apply.

The twenty-first century challenges us to think globally and to develop links between language teaching and the humanities. Teachers must be prepared to successfully relate foreign languages and literature to their historical and cultural context for their students. This four-week NEH Summer Institute—July 3rd to July 31st, 2011—is for middle and high school teachers of Spanish language, literature, and culture and will be held in Mexico City and nearby locations. The Institute seeks to promote multicultural appreciation and understanding in U.S. classrooms through the integration of Mexican cultural materials into the curriculum. The richness of Mexican culture, appealing to a wide variety of learners, can be used as a tool for initiating dialogues that will encourage in-depth discussion of humanities questions in local, American, and global settings.

This NEH Summer Institute will seek to contribute to the professional development of its NEH Summer Scholars by strengthening their knowledge—through the humanities—of significant topics and issues linked to Mexican literature and culture. The participants’ experiences will be applied to lesson plans and curricular projects that will be later shared with teachers throughout the United States via conferences, publications, and online through the creation of a web page with nationwide access to all. Through this NEH Summer Institute, participants will grow professionally by broadening their understanding of diverse world cultures, preparing for today’s global society, becoming lifelong participants in intercultural programs, and promoting educational bridges between the United States and Mexico.

Mexico has a rich literary and cultural heritage from pre-Hispanic to contemporary times. Mexican literature is one of the most influential and diverse literatures of the Spanish-speaking world.  Its relationship to other art manifestations—painting, architecture, sculpture—and to Mexico’s historical past is intimate, constant. In our readings, we will approach Mexican art, history, and culture through literature in a chronological manner: pre-Hispanic Mexico, Viceregal Mexico, Independent Mexico, and Contemporary Mexico. The literary selections chosen for study will be fully integrated with our experiences in Mexico City.

The study of these literary texts will highlight significant topics and issues in Mexican culture—its history, diverse ethnic inheritance, and quest for identity —and how they recur in the artistic manifestations of individuals and communities throughout time.  We will further enhance the humanities experience through visits to archeological ruins, extraordinary museums, neighborhoods, and historical places addressed within the selected readings required for this NEH Summer Institute.  Through this Institute we will provide an introduction to some of the most significant and original contributions to Mexican literature and culture by studying diverse issues through the readings of literary and cultural works by Mexican authors and scholars: Sabina Berman, Carmen Boullosa, Rosario Castellanos, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz,  Beatriz Espejo, Carlos Fuentes, Elena Garro, Enrique Florescano, Miguel León-Portilla,  Eduardo Matos Moctezuma, Silvia Molina, Carlos Monsiváis, José Emilio Pacheco, Elena Poniatowska, Octavio Paz, and Juan Rulfo, among others.

NEH Summer Scholars selected for this Institute will do a significant amount of reading in Spanish from literary and cultural sources dealing with history, literature, art and other topics related to our NEH Summer Institute. Our program is rigorous, both intellectually and physically. It is important to be aware that it requires attendance of and participation in all meetings and activities, thus maximizing the learning experience by studying literature and culture in context.

The Director and Co-Director will be actively involved in every aspect of the program over the entire four weeks and will be available for your questions regarding cultural content and development of curricular applications.  Our Institute website will provide a syllabus, prepared by the Director of the Institute, with all the required readings and a daily schedule. A reader will be sent to the selected NEH Summer Scholars by the second week of May.  Participants are strongly encouraged to start reading ahead of time to maximize the learning experience while studying in Mexico.

This NEH Institute will encourage collaborative work; NEH Scholars are expected to participate actively in lectures and presentations, bringing written questions and brief reports on the assigned readings as a way of aiding discussion and furthering analysis and synthesis of the selected topics assigned. After discussion of daily readings, participants (working in small groups with Co-Directors) will develop lessons plans and other curricular materials, utilizing the content and resources available to them through the program. 

Each participant will also be expected to prepare at least one topic to be presented during the Institute that will be further developed for later classroom use.  This may be a topic in Mexican literature or on any aspect of Mexican culture. Suggestions for topics will be provided by the Director on our website prior to the Institute. It is strongly encouraged that each participant have in mind a couple of potential topics before the Institute begins; final topic selection must be made by the first week of our stay in Mexico City. Participants will have access to La Salle’s library, the Internet, Blackboard (via CSUEB) and to several nearby bookstores. The final project can take the form of a lesson plan, unit, series of assignments, or any instructional material that is related to the focus of the NEH Summer Institute. The materials that result from this Institute will be made available to NEH Summer Scholars participating in this Institute and to teachers nationwide via our webpage, EDSITEment, teacher conferences, and other sources.

Click Here for Project Faculty

Applicant Profile
The NEH Summer Institute welcomes Spanish teachers who have attained fluency in the Spanish language and who are interested in enriching the content of their classes by incorporating Mexican literature and culture into their curriculum for the benefit and appreciation of all students. Although the selection committee for this Institute will especially seek middle and high school teachers of Spanish language, literature and culture, this interdisciplinary project will not categorically exclude school teachers at any level (K-12) or discipline who are able to make a strong case for inclusion. Disciplinary diversity is often a great asset as well as knowledge of technology.

These projects are designed for full-time teachers; however, three Institute spaces will be made available for current full-time graduate students who intend to pursue careers in K-12 teaching. It is important to note that all applicants must be fluent in Spanish and must be willing to incorporate Mexican literature or culture into the curriculum. Committee members assisting in this selection will consider several factors, each of which should be addressed in the application essay.  These factors include:

  • Fluency in the Spanish language.
  • Effectiveness and commitment as a teacher/educator.
  • Intellectual interests, in general and as they relate to Mexican literature and culture.
  • Special perspectives, skills, or experiences that would contribute to the Institute.
  • Commitment to participate fully in the formal and informal collegial life of the NEH Summer Institute.
  • Commitment to creating instructional resources for teaching Spanish language in several cultural contexts— artistic, historical, linguistic , literary and more for classroom use in order to establish a support network among middle and high school teachers from various locations in the United States and Mexico.

Individual Appointments
The Director and Co-Director of the Institute will be actively involved in every aspect of the program for the duration of the Institute and will be available whenever the participants need help or guidance. Participants will meet for a four-hour session five days per week (Monday to Friday, except when an excursion/field trip requires a full day) with project Co-Directors to explore and discuss the texts assigned for the day as well as curricular development.

Additionally, the Director will meet—both before and after scheduled activities—with participants to discuss literary and cultural readings and their relevance to places visited in order to enhance the learning experience. During the last hour of each day of the Institute, both Co-Directors will guide sessions and assign participants to smaller groups of five each, encouraging intellectual exchange and collaborative efforts in the planning of final project and lesson plans.  In addition to the scheduled times and dates set aside for monitoring progress, Co-Directors will schedule individual appointments over and above the Institute meeting times.  The Director and Co-Director will hold at least two formal conferences with each participant, one during the first week of the Institute and the second at the beginning of the third week in order to discuss, support, and assess participants’ needs and the progress of final projects.  

Academic Resources 
CSUEB will provide use of Blackboard and a webpage for all NEH Summer Scholars for the duration of the project. La Salle University, our host institution in Mexico City, will provide full use of their facilities and will allow participants to have access to student-related services: computer centers/labs with Internet access, cultural activities held on campus, and full use of library facilities for research purposes, among other amenities.

Please Click Here for Description of Housing 

Stipend, Tenure, and Conditions of Award 
Participants will receive a $3,300 stipend to help cover expenses associated with travel, housing and meals. NEH Scholars will need to purchase a few books and will receive a reader from the project’s Director (at no expense to participants).   This stipend should be more than adequate for your expenses; however, applicants to NEH Summer Institutes, including those held abroad, should know that supplements will not be given in cases where the stipend is insufficient to cover all expenses. The first check (1/2 of the stipend) should be waiting for participants when they arrive to Mexico City. The second check will be received during the second half of the project. Stipends are taxable.
NEH Summer Institute Scholars are required to attend all meetings and to be fully engaged in their project work. During the project's tenure, they may not undertake teaching assignments or any other professional activities unrelated to their participation in the project.  NEH Summer Scholars who, for any reason, do not complete the full tenure of the project must refund a pro-rata portion of the stipend.
At the end of the project's residential period, participants will be asked to submit online evaluations in which they review their work during the summer and assess its value to their personal and professional development.  These evaluations will become part of the project's grant file and may become part of an application to repeat the NEH Summer Institute. 

Upon completion of the NEH Institute, participants will receive a letter and a certificate from La Salle University indicating that they have completed the equivalent of two four-unit courses in Mexican Literature and Culture.  Academic credit will be made available upon request through Continuing Education at CSUEB (additional work, fees, and matriculation will be required to achieve credit).

Status of NEH Summer Scholars at the Host Institution 
Participants selected for this program will be designated as NEH Summer Scholars throughout the program, including while at our host institution, La Salle University. NEH Summer Scholars will be able to attend cultural events held at La Salle, use campus facilities, classroom space, the computer center (with e-mail access), the medical dispensary with an English-speaking doctor on call 24 hours, exercise facilities and spaces such as Casa Rosa for special meetings.

Please Click Here for Application Information and Instructions

The preferred e-mail for questions regarding this project is However, you can also reach me at  I can also be contacted at the following telephone number: (925) 984-9995.

We look forward to receiving your application and enthusiastically invite you to apply to this NEH Summer Institute.

L. Iliana Holbrook, Ph.D.
Director of the NEH Institute

**Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily reflect those of the National Endowment for the Humanities**