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Maria DeGuzman, English professor and director of Latina/o Studies at UNC, is hosting a book reading today at 10 a.m. in the Pleasants Family Assembly Room of Wilson Library. She will read portions of her most recent book, “Buenas Noches, American Culture: Latina/o Aesthetics of Night.”

Staff writer Breanna Kerr spoke with DeGuzman about her book, the reading and Latina/o culture at UNC.

Daily Tar Heel: What is your book about?

Maria DeGuzman: It’s basically about a pattern that I saw in a lot of Latino writing … I found a very strong pattern of the uses of night in the literature and some of the film and photography, and I especially concentrate on the literature.

What I found was that night was a way of talking about both a sense of invisibility, but also a sense of cultural transformation.

DTH: What made you interested in writing this book?

MD: I found a lot of references to night in songs, and that was something that caught my attention.

I’ve always sort of been interested in the topic of night already. I love the romantic poets, I was very interested in Gothic literature, very interested in film noir.

The thing that also interested me to write the book was that it had been completely overlooked, and it seemed so basic because we spend so much time talking about night and day, and they’re such basic categories to our existence.

DTH: Have you written a lot about this topic?

MG: I wrote an article way back in 1997 about a novel by John Rechy called “City of Night.”

I also wrote another article on a coming-of-age novel geared to teenagers by a Chilean-American woman, Mariana Romo-Carmona, who wrote a novel called “Living at Night.”

I started to kind of sink into my topic through these smaller investigations. That’s probably what initially got me started in on observing the pattern in the first place.

DTH: What are your hopes for this book?

MG: I really did try and write it both for a general reader and an academic, well, a specialist audience of people who are scholars in Latina/Latino studies.

I hope that the book will have multiple lives, and not just in the academy.

DTH: What role does Latino/a culture play at UNC?

MG: We do have the first program in Latina/Latino studies in the Southeast, and that was founded in 2004 … So Latina/Latino studies play a pretty essential role in the intellectual culture of the university.

Given that this is a state school and it’s supposed to be serving, at least in its mission, the inhabitants of the state of North Carolina, I think that inevitably Latina/Latino culture will play a really essential role in what Carolina will be.

DTH: How do you think this book will impact UNC, especially among the Latino/a population?

MG: I’m hoping that students who pick up this book will find this of interest because there will be something there that’s in the book for them, regardless of where they are coming from. Or maybe they’ll learn about other types of (nationalities characterized as Latino).

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That’s a really important part of creating a sense of coalition and thinking about the complexity of what it means to be Latina/Latino in the U.S.

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