From: Cervantes: Bulletin of the Cervantes Society of America
1.1-2 (1981): 7-8.
Copyright © 1981, The Cervantes Society of America
A Brief History
FORDHAM Cervantes Conference in December 1977, the
gathered scholars proposed the creation of a society for those interested
in the life and works of Miguel de Cervantes. On the West Coast, Professor
Michael McGaha discussed the idea with the participants of the Pomona Conference
on Cervantes and the Renaissance. It was agreed that Professor
Leo J. Hoar, Jr. would call the first organizational meeting at Fordham and
that these deliberations would provide a model for further development at
On October 27, 1978, Professor John J. Allen presided over the first meeting of some thirty interested cervantistas. After a full day of discussion, all agreed that membership would be open to all interested in Cervantes but that annual meetings (for financial reasons) would initially be held in the United States in conjunction with the MLA Convention, that the society would publish a journal and an annual bibliography, and that we needed a constitution. Consequently, Professors Allen, Hoar, and McGaha were elected to the Constitution Committee and Professor Hoar to serve as pro-tem Publicity Director and Treasurer. The Pomona group concurred and the first notices about our nascent society were distributed at the December 1978 MLA Convention in New York.
The Constitution Committee, ably assisted by Professors Luis Murillo and Elias L. Rivers, spent a year drafting a document for the first official membership meeting to be held in San Francisco in December 1979. At the same time, the first officers of the society were elected by mail ballot. Some forty cervantistas gathered in San Francisco to amend and ratify the Constitution and to hear Professor Juan Bautista Avalle-Arce's inaugural address as President. With a membership of 166 and a treasury of $540.19 the society was launched.
Invitations to membership, announcements, elections and plans for the 1980 meeting in Houston were disseminated through a series
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of Newsletters. Professor Allen announced that this first number of
Cervantes would be ready in fall 1981. At the Houston meeting, Professor
Avalle-Arce announced the election of Martín de Riquer as the first
Honorary Member of the Society and initiated an on-going discussion of the
editorial criteria for the projected Obras completas volumes.
In 1981 the Society continues to grow. In August we were incorporated as a non-profit organization. In December, in addition to our annual business meeting at the MLA in New York, Professor Ruth El Saffar has organized a special session devoted to the Quijote. Papers will be presented by Professors Howard Mancing, Helena Percas de Ponseti, Arthur Efron, and Cesáreo Bandera. Professor John J. Allen promises another special session on Cervantes for the 1982 MLA in Los Angeles. The future looks bright, thanks to the generous contributions of time, thought, and money by the officers and members, and the guiding spirit of Cervantes.
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