Presentation 1 - Latin Hip Hop as a New Poetry

This scholar is fully booked through 2021. This scholar will be available to book for programs in 2022 on September 1, 2021. You may also book them outside of any Illinois Humanities affiliation using the contact information provided.

Latin hip hop artists are advancing the poetic traditions of their countries in unique ways. Ana Tijoux from Chile was raised on protest songs and Pablo Neruda; Residente from Calle 13, Puerto Rico spits out rhymes as carefully crafted as any poet’s; Niña Dioz from Mexico reads dictionaries to find the precise words to fit her ideas and rhymes; Xiutehzcatl from Boulder, Colorado rhymes in three languages: Spanish, English and Nahuatl–an ancient indigenous language. Nevertheless, academia and poetic circles have surprisingly not embraced and celebrated these artists as poets.

This program, with video and lyric examples will make a case for hip hop as the new poetry with a focus on Latinos in the U.S., the Americas. The presentation, paired with slides and a rich set of musical videos, is lively, light and fun, and focused on participation, discussion, and musical enjoyment! The presentation can be in Spanish, English or Spanglish. Catalina uses Zoom’s interactive functions to take polls and encourage audience interaction.

This presentation is offered in English and Spanish.

Program Topics

  • Hip Hop Music
  • Poetry
  • Latinx

Book this presentation by first scheduling a date with Catalina via email or phone at 773.960.8531, then completing the Road Scholars Host Organization application.


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Presentation 2 - Latinos in Illinois and the USA: Music as a Cultural History

This scholar is fully booked through 2021. This scholar will be available to book for programs in 2022 on September 1, 2021. You may also book them outside of any Illinois Humanities affiliation using the contact information provided.

Music can be viewed and “read” as a tool that shares the cultural values, roots, and history of peoples. Over the years, numerous Latino musical genres share the concerns of Latinos throughout the years. For example, there are songs about immigrant woes of the early 20th century to today. Recently, Latinos around the U.S. commented on the 43 student-teachers murdered in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero by creating various songs in different genres. This program focuses on a broad overview of milestones the last 75 years of music in the Latino U.S. as a way of understanding the history, roots, and concerns of Latinos in this land, with a special emphasis on Mexican and Puerto Rican musicians in Illinois as Latino populations that have profoundly marked the state’s culture and music.

The presentation, paired with slides and musical samples, is lively and focused on participation, discussion, and exploration of complex topics through musical enjoyment! The presentation can be in Spanish, English or Spanglish. I use the Zoom’s interactive functions to take polls and encourage audience interaction.

This presentation is offered in English and Spanish.

Program Topics

  • Protest Music
  • History
  • Latinx

Book this presentation by first scheduling a date with Catalina via email or phone at 773.960.8531, then completing the Road Scholars Host Organization application.


Back to the 2021 – 2022 Road Scholar Roster

About Road Scholar Catalina Maria Johnson, Ph.D.

Catalina Maria Johnson, Ph.D. is a Chicago-based journalist. She hosts and produces her own radio show, Beat Latino, which airs in Chicago on Vocalo (Chicago Public Media). Catalina is also a regular contributor to NPR, Bandcamp, Downbeat and other outlets and a member of the editorial board of Revista Contratiempo.

Catalina credits the tenacious insistence of a Mexican mom and a German/Swedish dad for the extraordinary gift of a bilingual and bicultural heritage. Thanks to them, she grew up between two cities named St. Louis, one in Missouri, and the other, San Luis Potosi, Mexico. Her music journalism explores the extraordinary diversity of the global music scene with an emphasis on Latin and Latino music – from the most traditional roots music to cutting-edge electronic grooves. It is also very important to her to focus on the cultural riches that immigrants bring to the country of destiny, an invaluable and often unrecognized gift.

Learn More and Follow Catalina

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About Illinois Humanities Road Scholars Speakers Bureau

Since 1997, our Road Scholars Speakers Bureau has invited Illinois writers, storytellers, historians, folklorists, musicians, and living history actors, among others, to share their expertise and enthusiasm with people throughout our state. It also supports local nonprofit organizations – including libraries, museums, arts councils, historical societies, civic groups, and many others – in presenting free-admission cultural programs of high quality to their communities for a modest application fee, which can be waived if your organization is experiencing financial hardship.

Our Road Scholars Speakers Bureau roster features speakers hailing from many different communities across Illinois who offer presentations on topics in history, archaeology, philosophy, literature, theater, film, music, politics, and other subjects that are thought-provoking and engaging. The breadth of these offerings reflects our conviction that the humanities can help us to examine the world in all its varied shades and discover in it the remarkable, the strange, the fantastic, the tragic, the humorous, and the beautiful.

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