La Enigma de Jose Marti y el terremoto de Charleston

Professor Otero’s discussion of Jose Marti was interesting due to how it placed the topic of journalistic integrity into a historical context. The lecture focused on the numerous writings that Marti created on the topic of an earthquake in 19th century Charleston which Marti had published in numerous Spanish newspapers. From Argentina to Mexico to Honduras, the Spanish speaking portion of the New World was aware of the geological catastrophe that the city of Charleston had faced.

Professor Otero made particular note of how there were numerous variations between the various articles despite supposedly having been written within a day or so of each other. These variations could be as insignificant as a period or a comma in the wrong place to as drastic as completely different wording and changes to the entire narrative of the chronicle. These changes had the effect of completely altering the tone of Marti’s writing. One version of Marti’s chronicle tells the story of how a woman birthed two twins in a tent in the aftermath of the event, downright joyous over having survived with her newborns. Another version downplays the event and has the mother as being more somber concerning their survival. The source of these changes is currently unknown, however Otero theorized that the changes were the result of the newspaper editors and their staff changing writing so that the reading audience may better identify with the Charleston citizens. However, all of this comes under scrutiny when the question of whether Marti was even present in Charleston anytime before, during, or after the earthquake. While Marti’s writings may be highly regarded, if they are the fictional and dramatized writings of a man who had never even set foot in the city then they carry far less weight as historical texts on a disastrous event in American history.

Professor Otero later said that the next step of his research entails him taking full advantage of his presence in the United States and researching the Charleston historical record regarding the event, as well as locating the English versions of Marti’s writings on the event that were sent to The World in New York City.

1 comment April 1, 2016 coreyrc


I thought it was fascinating that a cuban historian could come to Mary Washington and give a lecture. The night started off for me quite interesting because of running into Dr. Ricardo Luis Hernandez Otero and Dr. Moon, where we got to converse for a little bit in Spanish about my academic career as well as my studies here and aboard.

The lecture it self was actually quite good, at times hard for me being fluent in English and Spanish because of the translator who did a wonderful job would be speaking sometimes at the same time Dr.Ricardo Luis Hernandez Otero would be speaking. I thought it was very interesting that Dr. Ricardo Luis Hernandez Otero spoke about Jose Marti and the controversy about the three different chronicles Marti wrote. The were published after the Charleston earthquake of 1886 in three different newspapers, one in Mexico, one in Argentina, and the other in Cuba. Jose Marti was from cuba but exiled at the age of 17 where he was forced to go to Spain, later he would travel to the Untied States coming in through New York. He traveled down to Georgia because Henry W. Grady. Grady was a great journalist and founded the Atlanta constitution and its weekly paper had the highest sales in the US. Marti also wrote a chronicle about the passing of Grady. It was interesting to hear a historian say that the archive in Mexico where he found  actually letters and copies of Marti writing was actually incomplete. It is highly debated wether or not Marti was actually present for the earthquake in Charleston in 1866 or did he just write his chronicles based off the accounts of other journalists such as Grady who were actually there.



2 comments April 1, 2016 salbrig2

Dr. Ricardo Luis Hernandez Otero Historic Visit to UMW. By Ruby

It was certainly an honor and a pleasure having Dr. Ricardo Luis Hernandez Otero come all the way from Cuba to speak to the students at UMW. This is especially significant given the history of relations with Cuba and the United States cutting ties for well over 50 years. Here we are today with President Obama attempting to chart a new course with the country. I would say that a bridge is most often better than a wall.

 It was interesting to hear a Historian from another country discuss the ways in which they conducted research. However, sadly we were only permitted a small sample of this. The commonality was of course finding small traces of evidence and being left with further questions for inquiry. It is probably fair to say “We have all been there.”

The lecture was significant in that it intrigued my mind to know more. I desire to look more closely and in depth at why the relationship with Cuba continued strained for such a long period of time. What provided the missing link in present day to improve relations? In addition, like many other students, I did not know anything about Jose Marti prior to this lecture. Thus, again I am interested to know more. It is always a good thing when the mind is curious and proceeds down a path of analysis.

I must say that I am left with many more additional questions. For instance, what changed with Jose being exiled from his country to being herald today? What did it take for this narrative to change? As well, why would he have written deliberate different versions of articles on the same historical event – the Charleston Earthquake of 1886? Is it possible that one or more were counterfeit? It could perhaps be that he was writing with different audiences in his mind. Maybe it was simply to “mix it up,” and use a little artistic freedom, a little sensationalism. Of course, there is the question as to whether Jose actually went to Charleston himself or was he simply writing on information he received within the general public.

I was also curious as to why he would want to write about an earthquake. I certainly do not mean to minimize the event – Yet, of all things he could have written on why did this garner so much attention. Then I had to remember as a researcher and a historian in training that historical context and/or the time period must be considered. (Can’t necessarily think with present day mindset) This curiosity led me to delve a little further into the earthquake. It does appear it was quite substantial for one. The earthquake is said to have caused strange disorders health wise and mentally with people too. It posed a huge psychological effect on them – similar to post traumatic stress. Additionally, some viewed it as  a bad omen or a sign of worse things to come. In this way, it makes sense to me that Jose would choose to write about it and communicate to the other newspapers and countries – Writing about the strange happening in America. There are questions surrounding the accuracy or legitimacy of the documents. Perhaps it was not meant to be exactly historically accurate or viewed as an actual news report. Maybe it was simply written in the fashion of telling a sensationalized short story on a real life event.

Anyhow, I digress. (: A huge thank you to Dr. Moon for the efforts in ensuring this unique and historic opportunity. An applaud and gracious thank you to the translator for an arduous job and well done.

Kindly, Ruby

1 comment April 1, 2016 onewillowtree

Jose Marti Lecture Blog Post – Alex Privitt

Dr. Otero’s lecture about Jose Marti and his correlation to the the Charleston earthquake was fascinating. Even if the lecture itself was boring (which it was not), just the fact that we were able to watch a Cuban academic come to Mary Washington to give a lecture is interesting enough. I did have some trouble with the whole translator aspect of the lecture but about halfway through, I was able to get accustomed to the rhythm Dr. Otero and the translator had. I still don’t know much about Jose Marti even after the lecture but it has encouraged me to explore him further. I especially liked one of the questions asked by an audience member about whether or not it was common for journalists of this time period to “embellish” other journalist’s writing. Dr. Otero told him that it was common in Latin American countries because the type of journalism that was popular there was a mix between news reporting and literature. As a result, Marti’s writing took on a hybrid form of fiction/embellishment and more typical news reporting. All in all, I enjoyed the lecture. I think being exposed to different styles of academia that we, as American students, are not really used to is a good thing as it challenges us to see the world from different perspectives.

 Tagged:  , April 1, 2016 aprivitt

Jose Marti Lecture

The lecture “Jose Marti and the U.S. South” given by professor Dr. Ricardo Luis Hernandez was about Dr. Hernandez’s research.  Dr. Hernandez explained that the object of the presentation was to explain the steps taken by Jose Marti in gaining independence for Cuba.  Jose Marti published many articles in Central American countries.  Marti wrote a chronicle about the passing of Henry W. Grady and about the reconstruction in the South after the American Civil War.  Marti also wrote about the earthquake in Charleston.  Ironically, Marti did not experience the earthquake himself but instead read accounts of the event and imagined them himself.  Dr. Hernandez explained that during his research he found out that Marti wrote for multiple newspapers in Central America.  Dr. Hernandez looked at the two newspaper articles and found that the two were quite different.  Many words were added and sentence structure was changed.  Marti was criticized for his lengthy paragraphs in newspapers.  Newspaper articles were supposed to be very short.  In conclusion, Dr. Hernandez has not finished his research but he will look for the next Mexican periodical.

The presentation was an interesting experience for me because it was given in Spanish with an English interpreter.  The interpreter did an amazing job translating the lecture.  However, having the lecture in two languages made the presentation a little challenging to understand.  I am glad that I attended and learned more about Jose Marti.

1 comment April 1, 2016 Malin Serfis

Cullen Reading

Quote: “When women are exposed to the sorts of stereotypes that abound on reality TV, they are less likely, when asked to perform a task after viewing comparable drivel, to want to assume leadership roles and more likely to chose a subservient position” (235).

Comment: This just shows how powerful reality television truly is.  To be fair, sometimes it is entertaining and fun, but definitely not something to model your life or morals for. The people on TV are on it for a reason, and it is far and few between to find someone on TV who is “your average Joe” or “girl next door”. There are few people in Hollywood or in the reality TV world that I would consider good role models, and I’m sure the young girls and women are not following after the right ones.

Question: I would love to know what other sorts of studies or polls have been taken in regards to this information, or how largely reality TV and social media affect todays society

April 1, 2016 lboehman


last night, I attended a lecture that was given by Doctor Ortero. Dr. Ortero’s lecture was an interesting one for me as it was the first one I have attended that needed a translator. The task I faced was to see how much I could get of his Spanish before I listened to the English translator.


Dr. Ortero was discussing the writer, Martí. Martí was a Cuban writer that wrote for multiple papers and the research conducted heavily used his papers to compare and contrast in order to glean information out of them. Much of the lecture was centered around the earthquake that Martí was in charge of writing about. While Martí wrote extensively on the earthquake in Charleston he was in fact never there for the event. Martí talked about how writing on the event gave him an inside look to stories. Martí wrote in longer paragraphs and was known to add some of his creativity into his writing.

The only critique was the chemistry between Ortero and the translator. They seemed to talk over eachother and cause longer pauses between the flow of information. Other than that small detail the information was interesting and the attention to the primary sources was inspiring for future research work in my future.

1 comment April 1, 2016 rpratt

Reality tv

“But even in the non-bordello formats, girls and women routinely compete and even fight with eachother over men: this happened on Laguna beach, the real world, and, most repulsively, for the attention and approval of the Donald” (Cullen 226).


There has been a sense of double standards for, basically, all of US history for men and women. Women have to work incredibly harder than men to get anything close to the same opportunity. Just like in the research in Wonder Woman, male super heroes had so much less to prove then their female counterpart. It’s a bit sad that a man who flaunts the “ideal” image of a woman is running for president. Woman are not appreciated for the quality of their minds but are sold on, from a early age, that in order to be successful you must be a “hottie”. 


How is America dumb enough to even watch a show with the Donald much less vote for the creep to be president? 

April 1, 2016 rpratt

Extra Credit Lecture

The lecture on Jose Marti given by Doctor Otero was interesting and different. The name Jose Marti meant nothing to me before the lecture, I didn’t have any idea who he was.  I have never been to a lecture where there was a speaker and a translator. I know some Spanish but was not able to follow what Doctor Otero was saying in Spanish. The interpreter and Doctor Otero worked well together but sometimes they would speak over each other.

Doctor Otero’s research was about Jose Marti and the different news articles that he wrote for different papers at different times in his life. While listening to his lecture you could tell that Doctor Otero and his colleagues research was very extensive on Jose Mari’s writing. He talked about how Jose Mari wrote about the earthquake that happened in Charleston. He wrote an article about the earthquake in Charleston without even being there. Mari used other articles written to write his own. In his own he gives a description of what the earthquake was like and the destruction that it caused as if he was in Charleston when the earthquake happened. Doctor Otero went on to talk about how Jose Marti had a different style of writing then other writers during the time period. Marti wrote longer articles, his longest was seventy six paragraphs in length. Jose Marti also wrote an obituary for the famous journalist, Henry Grady.

Doctor Otero plans to continue to research Jose Marti. He and his colleagues are looking for the missing Mexico chronicles.

In his lecture Doctor Otero mentions that Jose Marti was exiled from Cuba but did not explain why. Why was Jose Marti exiled from Cuba?

1 comment April 1, 2016 ngeorge

Reality TV: The “feminist” view

Quote: Men are rational, women are hysterical. Freud would have loved it” (Cullen 229)

Comment: This quote takes me back to the gender stereotypes mentioned in Ruth Hall. That men were rational creatures because they “lived” in the public sphere of business and commerce while women had to be emotional creatures because they “lived” within the private sphere of the home taking care of everyone and making sure the home was in order. Even in today’s media women are valued for being homemakers and being nurturing to everyone. On top of that they have to deal with distorted body image, girl drama, lesser pay and not being taken seriously. Its like everything the women of the past fought for is desecrated and practically thrown away for the sake of of ratings, wealth and fame. Some days I watch TV and it feels like all that was done for the sake of feminism wasn’t worth it at all, especially since this, what we know as relativity TV, is the outcome. Its quite depressing to think about.

However on a more positive note, as a psychology major, I find the second sentence to be hilariously accurate. Freud would have had a field day on these women, starting with the women on any of those Housewives of [insert whatever poor city that has to deal with them] shows most likely having them all in therapy talking about their repressed sexual traumas. Makes sense since Freud was all about sex…and now almost everything in the media is about sex one way or another. Well then, have fun Freud.

Question: If the media still portrays women as crazy, hysterical creatures that need to conform to their standards and stay in the kitchen, then has feminism truly change society’s perspective on them?

April 1, 2016 kathyd67

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