“A stopped clock is right twice a day”
A tribute to retiring professor Dr. Efraín Barradas, written by his former student, Dr. Antonio Sajid López
A few years ago, when I was a graduate student, I took a course on Contemporary Mexican Poetry with Dr. Efraín Barradas. In one of his classes, he presented a photo that was part of a book he had bought many years ago in one of his trips to Mexico. Curious, a colleague student asked about the book with the remarkable intention of buying a copy. Dr. Barradas, reading his disciple’s intentions, replied: “I do not recommend this book. Honestly, its content is highly questionable. Its true value lies in this photo…, as my grandmother said: even a stopped clock is right twice a day!”
That phrase synthesizes the genius of the enormous figure that is Efraín Barradas for Hispanic and Latin American studies. He approaches human production with a conventual respect, transcending the spaces of good or bad, of “like” or “not like”, to examine through aesthetics how the thinking processes operate. Barradas empowered his disciples by teaching how to dismantle the politic discourses that govern the human experience. By doing this, he has shaped not only good scholars but also better people. His radiographic lens has illuminated us in fields as diverse as literature, plastic arts, theater, history, chronicle, philosophy, and even the epistolary genre (among others).
One afternoon I attended one of the talks he offered at the UF Rare Book Collection. He took into his hands a first edition of the Brevísima relación de la destrucción de las Indias, and his eyes dampened. He was talking about several concepts related to colonial literature, but emotion was inevitable. This was one of the many moments in which Efrain gave us a lesson of what it is to have an intellectual vocation and respect for the objects that form our cultural heritage.
Dr. Barradas has decided to retire this spring semester of 2020, after an extensive and fruitful career. We are glad for all the projects that await him, but we are sad that we will not see him as often as usual. We will miss his sense of humor, his “don de gentes” and even his eyeglasses and campy ties, so representative of his person.
On behalf of all the students who went through your courses, and your colleagues, I thank you, Efrain.
Enjoy this new stage! Enhorabuena, Professor Emeritus!
Antonio Sajid López