Seymour Menton, an internationally renowned expert in Latin American Literature and one of the founding faculty of UCI, has donated his archive of scholarly papers to the University Archives. The University Archives, which are housed in the Libraries’ Department of Special Collections and Archives, preserve UCI’s records and related materials of enduring scholarly, administrative, and community significance.
Menton's archive includes copies of his books, articles and reviews, as well as the many comments he received on his books and letters from well known authors, including Jorge Luis Borges and Carlos Fuentes. Menton also maintained a chronological description of his life, from his child hood in New York, to all of his trips abroad from 1948 to the present.
Menton has had a profound influence on the history of UCI. He came to UCI in 1965 as founding chair of the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures. In a recent interview, Menton said, “My ideas on teaching language and literature meshed with UCI’s passion for innovation. At the time, in the vast majority of language departments across the country, the introductory literature courses were based on large anthologies that included very short selections from all major and minor writers. We approached it differently by reading only complete works by the very best writers. The impact of this was that the students enjoyed reading good literature at a linguistic level with which they were comfortable.”
Before coming to UCI, Menton taught at Dartmouth College and the University of Kansas. He holds a B.A. from City College of New York, an M.A. from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, and a Ph.D. from New York University. He is a specialist in the Latin American short story and novel. His best-seller anthology of short stories, El cuento hispanoamericano, has been published in eight editions since 1964.
Since retiring officially in 1994, Menton has taught at least one course at UCI every year. In addition to continuing his research in Latin American fiction, he has recently published his somewhat fictionalized autobiography, Un tercer gringo viejo (Nov. 2005).
Menton’s proudest achievement is the totality of his career. “I like to think of myself as having been influential in two areas of literature. As a literary historian, my books on the Spanish American short story, the Guatemalan novel, the Costa Rican short story, and prose fiction of the Cuban Revolution were the first of their time and still stand as the definitive works. As a literary critic, I am proud of having published the first analytical studies of several important new novels such as García Márquez’s El otoño del patriarca, and Carlos Fuentes’s La campaña. I am also very proud of my long and varied teaching career, which began in 1948 in Guanajuato, Mexico.”
For more information, please contact Jackie Dooley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 949.824.4935.