Jose Saldivar

Jose Saldivar

Ph.D., Stanford University, English (Comparative Literature, Minor) (1983)
M.A., Stanford University, English (1979)
B.A., Yale University, Literature (1977)


"Born and raised in the Global South of Brownsville, Texas, my most vivid memory is not so much of my family (four brothers and two sisters) but of the house on 214 Vilma Street where I lived with my parents and my grandparents. Sometimes I wake up with the feeling that I've dreamed that I'm in that house. Not that I have gone back there but that I'm there. It was a house full of my family but also absent relatives. I am beginning to write a border memoir or hauntology in which I will attempt to recover it and master my memories of it. It's a book I've carried inside me for decades.

"I spent my early years exploring U.S.-Mexico border culture and music, and I attended Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic School. A first-generation college student, I majored in literature at Yale, and completed my Ph.D. at Stanford University in English and Comparative Literature. Throughout my career, I have been interested in understanding how literature's complex narrative logic and its broad ideological horizons work. Is literature an extended metaphor?

"For me, comic books like Black Panther, science fiction texts such as Oscar Wao, and Broadway plays and mixtapes like Hamilton are neither prophecy nor folklore but parables of our times. For instance, it's hard to imagine reading Junot Díaz's Pulitzer Prize-winning sci-fi novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao without seeing how the hero's immigrant articulation of estrangement or alienation is tempered by the reality of what is bio-historically, physically, and socially possible. Díaz's novel evaluates which possible futures are better or worse for Oscar Wao and, by extension, for us.

"I am interested in teaching this seminar in order to see how and why Black Panther, Hamilton, Oscar Wao, and other wondrous lives often erupt as a blow against the world as it is.

"Among my previous books are The Dialectics of Our America; Border Matters; Trans-Americanity; and Junot Díaz and the Decolonial Imagination. My latest book, Junot Díaz: The Half-Life of Love, is in press. Before coming to Stanford in 2010, I was the Class of 1942 Professor of English at the University of California, Berkeley. Presently, I am the Leon Sloss, Jr. Professor in the Department of Comparative Literature and the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity (CCSRE) at Stanford."

José David Saldívar is a scholar of late postcontemporary culture, especially the minoritized literatures of the United States, Latin America, and the transamerican hemisphere, and of border narrative and poetics from the sixteenth century to the present.He is the author of The Dialectics of Our America: Genealogy, Cultural Critique, and Literary History (Duke University Press, 1991), Border Matters: Remapping American Cultural Studies (University of California Press, 1997), and Trans-Americanity: Subaltern Modernities, Global Coloniality, and the Cultures of Greater Mexico (Duke University Press, 2012),coeditor (with Monica Hanna and Jennifer Harford Vargas) of Junot Díaz and the Decolonial Imagination (Duke University Press, 2016) coeditor (with Héctor Calderón) of Criticism in the Borderlands (Duke University Press, 1991), and editor of The Rolando Hinojosa Reader (Arte Público Press, 1985).Additionally, he has published numerous articles in journals such as Cultural Studies, American Literary History, The Americas Review, Revista Casa de las Américas, Daedalus, Modern Fiction Studies, and The Global South. He has served on the editorial boards of Duke University Press, the University of California Press, and currently serves on the editorial boards of the journals American Literary History, The Global South, Aztlan, and World Knowledges Otherwise. He has received personal research grants from The Ford Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, the University of California President's Research Fellowship in the Humanities, the William Rice Kimball Fellowship, Stanford Humanities Center, and the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford (invitation for a future visit).His teaching is divided evenly between graduate seminars and undergraduate courses, and some of his undergraduate courses are cross-listed in Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity.In 2003, he received the Distinguished Achievement Award for Literary and Cultural Criticism from the Western Literature Association; in 2005, he received the Chicano Scholar of the Year Award from the Modern Language Association; in 2007 he received the Sarlo Distinguished Graduate Student Mentoring Award from the University of California, Berkeley; and in 2016, he was the winner of the American Literature Society’s highest honor, the Jay B. Hubbell Medal. The medal is sponsored by the American Literature Society, an allied organization of the Modern Language Association, and is awarded annually to one “scholar whose lifetime of scholarly work has significantly advanced the study of American literature.” . Before coming to Stanford in January 2010, Saldívar was the Class of 1942 Professor of English and Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.

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