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Willis Knapp Jones and Latin American Theatre

Performing & Visual Arts
cover and title page of "El Juguete Roto" by Facundo Recalde, 1925; from the Jones Latin American Drama Collection

cover and title page of “El Juguete Roto” by Facundo Recalde, 1925; from the Jones Latin American Drama Collection

For over four decades Dr. Willis Knapp Jones studied, taught, and lectured on the subject of Spanish and other Romance languages.  Earning his MA from Penn State University and his PhD from the University of Chicago, Dr. Jones would go on to teach for a short time at Penn State before settling into his career at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.  Throughout, he traveled and taught in Chile, Uruguay, England, and Ecuador.  It was during his travels through Latin America that Dr. Jones went about acquiring the breadcrumbs of numerous, visually stunning, theatre programs (dating from the late 1930s through the early 1960s) and an even larger library of original plays, including rare and unpublished titles, and critical works related to the study of Latin American theatre.  After his “retirement” in 1963, he published Beyond Spanish American Footlights, a seminal English-language study of the history of Latin American theatre.

When Dr. Jones retired, the University of Houston Special Collections acquired his library related to Latin American theatre.  These materials include the previously mentioned programs making up the Willis Knapp Jones Latin American Theatre Programs collection as well as over 1,000 volumes Dr. Jones acquired over the years, constituting the Jones Latin American Drama Collection.  Researchers with an interest in our Performing Arts collections will certainly want to take a look at these programs and texts.  In addition, given Dr. Jones’s analysis of theatre as a barometer of the social mores, political leanings, and history of a nation, the resources from his library may also serve to complement scholars interested in visiting us to conduct research in our growing Hispanic Collections.

When you have a moment, do look through the detailed finding aid for the Latin American Theatre Programs or peruse the catalog of plays and come take advantage of these incredibly rich and rare resources.

One thought on “Willis Knapp Jones and Latin American Theatre

  1. Thanks for this posting on the two collections of Dr. Willis Knapp Jones. I learned things I never knew!