GABRIEL MELÉNDEZ, PhD, University of New Mexico, 1984
Professor and Chair of American Studies
A. Gabriel Meléndez is Professor and former Chair of the Department of American Studies at the University of New Mexico. Meléndez grew up in the Mora Valley, a largely Hispanic area of northern New Mexico. After obtaining his doctorate from the University of New Mexico in 1984, he taught at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, UT and at Mills College in Oakland CA before returning to Albuquerque to do a Rockefeller Humanities Fellowship at the Southwest Hispanic Research Institute (UNM) in 1991. He joined the faculty in American Studies in 1994.
Gabriel Meléndez has been Professor of American Studies since 2002. He has served three terms as Chair of American Studies for a total of eleven years between 1999 and 2013. During his tenure as Chair, American Studies doubled the number of new faculty hires and increased the retention of tenured faculty now in the department. Meléndez is a literary, social and cultural critic with research interests in ethnic and cultural representations in film, autobiography, ethnopoetics and ethnocritical theory. His teaching and research interests overlap three American Studies concentrations: Cultural Studies, Southwest Studies, and Race, Class and Ethnicity. He offers graduate seminars on “Cultural Autobiography and Life Narratives,” “Race, Culture and Cinema,” and “Critical Regionalism: Discourses on the Southwest.” He has been the recipient of a Rockefeller Humanities Fellowship and several other research grants including awards from the New Mexico Endowment for the Humanities, the Center for Regional Studies (UNM) and the Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage Project (University of Houston).
His first book, So All is Not Lost: The Poetics of Print in Nuevomexicano Communities, 1836-1958 (UNM, 1997) was reprinted by the University of Arizona with the title, Spanish-Language Newspapers in New Mexico, 1836-1958 (2005). In addition, he is co-editor of The Multicultural Southwest: A Reader (Arizona, 2001) and Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage: Volume VI (2006), and Santa Fe Nativa: A Collection of Nuevomexicano Writing (UNM, 2010). His other works include Reflexiones del Corazón (1993) [a portfolio of images and texts produced with Miguel Gandert and María Baca for the Tamarind Institute], The Biography of Casimiro Barela (UNM, 2003) and The Writings of Eusebio Chacón (UNM Press, 2012).
Meléndez’s most recent book, Hidden Chicano Cinema: Film Dramas in the Borderlands, published by Rutgers University Press in 2013 presents a fascinating, scholarly account of a series of film or “specular moments” in borderlands history that are replete with drama, intrigue and the politics of cultural representations, elements that are as much the result of specific cinematic practices as of a set of socio-cultural encounters peculiar to the Southwest. Also in 2013 he published The Legend of Ponciano Gutiérrez and the Mountain Thieves (UNM Press, 2013) an illustrated book for young readers.
Meléndez is on the board of directors of the Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage Project, serves on the editorial board of Aztlán: A Journal of Chicano Studies, and is a general editor for the Pasó por aquí Series on New Mexican Hispanic Letters at UNM Press. He is also a contributing member to the National Digital Newspaper Program Advisory Committee based at Zimmerman Library.