ASU Common Read: 'The Undocumented Americans'

ASU Common Read 2022 header

ASU hosts author Karla Cornejo Villavicencio and a roundtable of faculty on the topic of Villavicencio's memoir, "The Undocumented Americans" on November 10, 2022 at 6 p.m. ASU's Writing Programs has selected Cornejo Villavicencio's nonfiction book as its 2022-2023 common read.

The conversation will allow for questions by students and viewers, and will include the following experts from across The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences:

  • Cultural studies scholar Lee Bebout, a professor in the Department of English and affiliate faculty in the School of Transborder Studies;
  • Literary critic Anita Huízar-Hernández, an associate professor of Spanish in the School of International Letters and Cultures;
  • Diversity, equity and inclusion specialist Lisa Magaña, a professor in the School of Transborder Studies and Provost Fellow for Hispanic Serving Initiatives; and
  • Anthropologist Sujey Vega, an associate professor of women and gender studies and American studies in the School of Social Transformation.

The virtual event is open and free to the public.


About the common read

The goal of a common read program is to encourage first-year students to write about pressing social problems that are relevant to ASU’s mission as a public enterprise. By learning to write about such problems as a community, we increase the probability of finding solutions to them. This year, we will write about immigration.

About the author and book

Brought to the U.S. from Ecuador at age 5, Karla Cornejo Villavicencio became one of the first undocumented students accepted into Harvard University. “The Undocumented Americans” (2020) channels Cornejo Villavicencio’s ambivalence about the “American dream” into a series of dispatches from what we might call undocumented America: a country within a country, one that overlaps and undergirds the other. In six chapters, she profiles Staten Island day laborers who cleaned up New York City after Hurricane Sandy; “second responders” and delivery workers who cleared the rubble at Ground Zero; healers and pharmacists offering black-market cures in Miami; families poisoned by lead pipes and negligent politicians in Flint, Michigan; and the intimate fallout of the deportation machine. Throughout, Cornejo Villavicencio weaves in her own story, reflecting on her parents’ sacrifices and her daily battles with trauma and mental illness. "The Undocumented Americans" was a finalist for the National Book Award.

This event is hosted by Writing Programs in the Department of English with support from the humanities division of The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at ASU.

Kyle Jensen
Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, 6 p.m.
Free and open to the public; registration required

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