Research interests

My work is broadly based in the cultural and political relations between the U.S. and the rest of the Americas, particularly Mesoamerica and the Caribbean/Gulf coast. The nineteenth century is my usual period focus, and at the moment much of my attention revolves around the relatively new organization, C19: The Society of Nineteenth-Century Americanists, for which I serve as Program Committee Chair.

However, I also write about contemporary works by U.S. Latinas and Latinos, whose experiences are deeply rooted in the history of the Americas. I direct the Latino Literary Cultures Project/Proyecto culturas literarias latinas, an initiative of the Chicano/Latino Research Center and the Institute for Humanities Research at UCSC. I am interested in the changing conditions of literary production and reception, as well as in the general question of how and why we make history. My current book project, Bad Lengua,engages sociolinguistics and linguistic anthropology to explore the changing ideologies surrounding Spanish-language usage in what is now the U.S., from the seventeenth century to the present.

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Ambassadors of Culture: The Transamerican Origins of Latino Writing was published in 2002 by Princeton University Press. It argues that Latinos are not newcomers in the United States by documenting a vast network of Spanish-language cultural activity in the nineteenth century. Drawing on previously unpublished archival materials and building on an innovative interpretation of poetry's cultural role, Ambassadors of Culture brings together poems, essays, and other writings from the borderlands of California and the Southwest as well as the cosmopolitan exile centers of New York, New Orleans, and San Francisco. It reads these productions in light of broader patterns of cultural and political relations between the U.S. and Latin America, showing how ''ambassadors of culture'' such as Whitman, Longfellow, and Bryant propagated ideas about Latin America and Latinos through their translations, travel writings, and poems. The book was selected for an Honorable Mention for the John Hope Franklin Prize for Best Book in American Studies in 2002 from the American Studies Association.


Essays in Books and Journals

  • "What Was Latino Literature?" Forthcoming in PMLA, March 2012.
  • "Tracking the First Latino Novel: Un matrimonio como hay muchos (1849) and Transnational Serial Fiction," in Transnational Serial Fiction, ed. Patricia Okker (Blackwell, 2011).
  • “Mexican/American: The Making of Borderlands Print Culture,” in US Popular Print Culture, 1860-1920, ed. Christine Bold (Oxford UP, History of Popular Print Culture series, 2011).
  • "Worlding America: The Hemispheric Text-Network” (co-authored with Susan Gillman), in A Companion to American Literary Studies, eds. Robert Levine and Caroline Levander (Blackwell), 2011.
  • "1521: Mexico in America" and "1836: Richard Henry Dana's Two Years Before the Mast" in A New Literary History of America., eds. Werner Sollors and Greil Marcus (Harvard University Press, 2009).
  • "Maria Gowen Brooks, In and Out of the Poe Circle," ESQ: A Journal of the American Renaissance, 54 (fall 2008), 75-109.
  • "Lexical Snacks at the Citizen Restaurant: A Response to Vicki Ruiz," ASA Presidential Address forum in American Quarterly 60:2, March 2008.
  • "Transnationalism," "Travel Writing," "José Quintero": essay-length entries in The Encyclopedia of Latino Literature, ed. Nicolás Kanellos (Greenwood, 2008).
  • "Walt Whitman, Latino Poet," in Walt Whitman, Where the Future Becomes Present, eds. Michael Robertson and David Haven Blake (U Iowa Press, Iowa Whitman Series, 2008).
  • "The Cafetal of María del Occidente and the Anglo-American Race for Cuba," in The Traffic in Poems: Nineteenth-Century Poetry and Transatlantic Exchange, ed. Meredith McGill (Rutgers University Press, 2008).
  • "The Mercurial Space of 'Central' America: New Orleans, Honduras, and the Writing of the Banana Republic," in Hemispheric American Studies, eds. Caroline Levander and Robert S. Levine (Rutgers University Press, 2007).
  • "The Once and Future Latino: Notes Toward a Literary History todavía para llegar," in Contemporary US Latino/a Literary Criticism, eds. Lyn Diloria Sandín and Richard Pérez (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007).
  • "America," entry in Keywords for American Cultural Studies, eds. Bruce Burgett and Glenn Hendler (NYU Press, 2007). See and participate in the Keywords blog.
  • "The Gulf of Mexico System and the 'Latinness' of New Orleans," American Literary History 18:4 (Fall 2006).
  • "Subject to the Border: The Strange Case of José Agustín Quintero," in Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage V, ed.Kenya Dworkin-Mendez and Agnes Lugo-Ortiz. Houston: Arte Público Press, 2006.
  • "Hacia un mundo nuevo latino: los periódicos hispanos en los Estados Unidos a fines del siglo XIX," Revista Iberoamericana LXXII (enero-marzo 2006), no. 214. pp. 185-198.
  • “Translation: A Key(word) into the Language of America(nists),” American Literary History 16:1 (Spring 2004).
  • “Delta Desterrados: New Orleans, Mexico, and the Confederacy,” in Look Away! The U.S. South in New World Studies, eds. Jonathan Smith and Deborah Cohn, Duke University Press 2004.
  • “Other Languages, Other Americas,” in The Blackwell Companion to American Fiction, 1780-1865, ed. Shirley Samuels, Blackwell Press 2004.
  • “Worlding American Studies” (co-authored with Rob Wilson and Susan Gillman), Comparative American Studies 2:3 (2004), 259-270.
  • “Utopía Latina: The Ordinary Seaman in Extraordinary Times.” Modern Fiction Studies 49:1 (Spring 2003), 54-83.
  • “The Occluded History of Transamerican Literature,” pp. 121-137 in Critical Latin American and Latino Studies, ed. Juan Poblete. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2003.
  • “Anonimo No More: Toward a Transnational Theory of Nineteenth-Century Poetic Practice,” pp. 80-95 in Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage IV, ed. José Aranda and Silvio Torres-Saillant. Houston: Arte Público Press, 2002.
  • “Feeling for the Fireside: Longfellow, Lynch, and the Topography of Poetic Power,” pp. 43-63 in Sentimental Men: Masculinity and the Politics of Affect in American Culture, eds. Glenn Hendler and Mary Chapman. University of California Press, 1999.
  • El gran poeta Longfellow and a Psalm of Exile,” American Literary History 10.3 (Winter 1998), 395-427.
  • "Facing the Nation: The Organic Life of La Cautiva," Revista de Estudios Hispánicos 30:1 (Winter 1996), 3-22.
  • Review of Rachel Adams, Continental Divides, Hispanic Review (Summer 2011).
  • Review of María de Guzmán, Spain’s Long Shadow, in MLN: Hispanic Issue (Spring 2007).
  • Review of Héctor Calderón, Narratives of Greater Mexico, in Latino Studies 5:1 (Spring 2007).
  • Review of Rodrigo Lazo, Writing to Cuba and Robert Aguirre, Informal Empire, in American Literature 78:4 (December 2006), 889-91.
  • Review of Anna Brickhouse, Transamerican Literary Relations and the Nineteenth-Century Public Sphere, in Studies in American Fiction 33:1 (Spring 2005), 120-22.
  • Review of Nicolás Kanellos and Helvetia Martell, Hispanic Periodicals in the United States, Origins to 1960, in American Periodicals 6 (2003).
Current Research & Editing Projects
I am currently at work on two books, in this order: Bad Lengua: A Cultural History of Spanish in the United States and Bordering the Gulf: Routes of Latinidad from the Yucatán to La Florida. I also continue to work on smaller editing projects relating to Spanish-language periodical culture in New Orleans, especially the newspaper La Patria (1846-51), where I have found what is arguably the first Latino novel, and the monthly illustrated magazine Mercurio (1911-1927).
Recent Honors and Awards
I received the Frederick Burkhardt Fellowship for Recently Tenured Scholars from the American Council of Learned Societies in 2005-06, spent at the Huntington Library.

Upcoming talks and travels

Feb. 22-25, 2012: Lozano Long Conference: Central American Studies and the Latino/a Landscape, UT-Austin

March 29-30. 2012: University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

April 12-15, 2012: C19: The Society of Nineteenth-Century Americanists, Berkeley


I did my undergraduate work at Swarthmore College and earned my PhD in Comparative Literature at Yale. Prior to coming to UCSC in 1996, I taught at the College of William & Mary. I have also taught in the past at the Bread Loaf School of English.

this page last modified February 15, 2012

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