Obituary: Guillermo Hernandez, UCLA Professor of Spanish, Director Emeritus of Chicano Studies Research Center and Leading Expert on Corridos
Guillermo E. Hernández,
UCLA professor of Spanish, director emeritus of the university's
Hernández, a leading scholar on corridos, or Mexican ballads, and Chicano literature, was best known for his leadership efforts on the Arhoolie Foundation's Strachwitz Frontera Collection of Mexican and Mexican American Recordings at UCLA. With more than 30,000 digitized recordings, the Frontera Collection is the largest and most diverse collection of Mexican and Mexican American music. The archive, housed in the UCLA Music Library, includes the earliest recordings of corridos and many other popular genres.
Hernández was an impassioned and committed teacher and scholar at UCLA, with
the keenest interest in educating and improving the lives of his students,"
said Jonathan Post, former interim humanities dean in UCLA's
Hernández was leading a four-week summer
session program in
Hernández earned a
bachelor's, master's and doctorate in comparative literature from the
Hernández's area of specialization was medieval Spanish literature, but he also contributed greatly to the field of Chicano studies. He wrote "Chicano Satire: A Study in Literary Culture" (1991), for which he won an Outstanding Academic Book award from Choice magazine, a publication of the American Library Association.
"His book on satire was an important literary
contribution in that it traced Chicano satire back hundreds of years," said
Chon Noriega, current director of the
Corridos were Hernández's true passion. Hernández spoke eloquently about the Mexican ballad, saying, "corridos are part of a most significant historic and artistic heritage . . . [and] represent a rich poetic and musical tradition that preserves the voice of common people."
Under Hernández's direction in 2000, the award-winning
Mexican norteño band Los Tigres del
Norte donated $500,000 to establish the Los Tigres del Norte Fund at UCLA. The
fund supports research, teaching and preservation efforts related to
Spanish-language music in the
was pivotal in bringing the Arhoolie and Los Tigres del Norte foundations
together through the
Since the singers and musicians featured in
the Frontera Collection helped define and propagate a wide range of
Mexican regional styles, it has been credited with providing an overview of the
foundations for today's Latino popular music. Mexican regional music
continues to draw a wide following today among Latinos in the
In addition, the collection includes many spoken performances, such as patriotic speeches and vernacular comedy skits. Many of the recordings are one-of-a-kind because the companies that recorded them no longer exist or, if they do exist, have lost or melted their master recordings.
also traveled throughout
"Guillermo's death is a tremendous loss to the field of Chicano studies, not only for all he accomplished but for all the work he still had ahead of him," Noriega said.
Hernández also was the coordinator of the International Corrido Conference. He
organized conferences at UCLA and the
Hernández is survived by his wife, Yolanda Zepeda; his first wife, Lucha Corpi; and his children Arturo, Luciano, Guillermo M. and Gabriel, as well as his grandchildren Kiara, Nikolas and Kamille. He is also survived by two sisters, Frieda and Nora, and two brothers, Arturo and Hector.
will be held on Friday, July 21, from 3 to 8 p.m. at Holy Cross Mortuary,
In lieu of
flowers, the Hernández family has requested that donations be made to the
Guillermo E. Hernández Memorial Scholarship Fund at the