I feel very fortunate to have met outstanding mentors and colleagues in my academic career, and IU stands out for being a crowded hub in that regard. Mary Ellen Bieder encouraged me to publish my first article. I found the work of don Fernando de Alva Ixtlilxochitl at the Wells Library, a discovery that accounts for much of my professional success. Since completing my dissertation, written under the thoughtful guidance of Kathleen Myers, Juan Carlos Conde, Alejandro Mejías López, and John McDowell, the topic has been very fruitful. Don Fernando, who died in 1650, is responsible for the vision of the pre-Hispanic past that fueled Mexican nationalism. I have sought to better situate his texts by tracing their links to medieval historiography—all the way to King Arthur and Mio Cid Campeador—and highlighting their impact on Mexico's patriotic discourse from the late seventeenth to the late twentieth centuries.
Alumni Spotlight: Pablo García Loaeza
After obtaining my Ph.D., however, I got to take a break from intensive research. Teaching was my principal duty as an assistant professor of Spanish at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire. There, I spent my free time figuring out woodworking and, owing to the generosity of wonderful colleagues, learning how to fell trees and make maple syrup. I felt very much at home at Saint Anselm, but after three years, the desire to be closer to family led me to seek a different position. I found it at West Virginia University, where I have been very much at home ever since. I dove back into research, revisiting the various tracks I had begun exploring in my dissertation. Some of the related projects I have enjoyed the most are collaborations with colleagues I first met in Bloomington. Amber Brian, who teaches Spanish at the University of Iowa, attended a graduate student conference in 2005. Peter Villella, a historian at the US Airforce Academy, and I were both researching at the Lily Library in summer 2009. With Bradley Benton, who teaches history at South Dakota State, they are part of Team Ixtlilxochitl—as I like to call it. We all contributed to a special issue of the Colonial Latin American Review and co-translated Alva Ixtlilxochitl's key texts. Our edition and translation of his most ambitious work, known as Historia de la nación chichimeca, was funded by an NEH grant. Oklahoma University Press published it in 2019. Peter and I are currently putting the final touches on an edited volume about diverse reinventions of the Conquest of Mexico. It is scheduled for publication in fall 2022 through Oklahoma University Press as well.
Another project that I am currently working on is a multi-authored monograph, Contemporary Colonialities: Mexico and Beyond, with Kathleen Myers, Alejandro Mejías López, and three other IU alumni, Cara Kinnally, Beth Boyd, and Justin Knight. The manuscript is under review at Toronto University Press. Thus, in a sense, I have come full circle back to IU—though it may be more accurate to say that, corny as it sounds, it never left me.