Luis, William 1948–

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LUIS, William 1948–

PERSONAL: Born July 12, 1948, in New York, NY; son of Domingo (a radio and television technician) and Petra (a community worker; maiden name, Liduvina; present surname, Santos) Luis; married Linda Garceau, January 1, 1984; children: Tammie Luis Durham, Gabriel, Diego, Stephanie Luis Wallace. Ethnicity: "Afro-Cuban Chinese." Education: State University of New York—Binghamton, B.A., 1971; attended Hunter College of the City University of New York and St. Francis College (New York, NY), both 1972; University of Wisconsin—Madison, M.A., 1973; Cornell University, M.A., 1979, Ph.D., 1980. Politics: Independent. Religion: Episcopalian.

ADDRESSES: Home—2112 Piccadilly Pl., Nashville, TN 37215. Office—Department of Spanish and Portuguese, 302 Furman Hall, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN 37235. E-mail[email protected].

CAREER: Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH, lecturer, 1979–80, assistant professor, 1980–85, associate professor, 1985–88; State University of New York, Binghamton, visiting associate professor, 1989–91, acting director, 1988–89, director of Latin American and Caribbean area studies program, 1989–90; Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, member of Latin American and Iberian studies program, 1991–, associate professor, 1991–96, professor, 1996–. Washington University, St. Louis, MO, visiting associate professor, 1988; State University of New York, Binghamton, visiting associate professor, 1988–89; Yale University, visiting professor, 1998. Human Relations Commission, member, 1997–.

MEMBER: Modern Language Association of America, Latin American Studies Association, Afro-Latin/American Research Association.


(Editor, with Edmundo Desnoes) Los dispositivos en la flor: Cuba, literatura desde la revolución, Ediciones del Norte (Hanover, NH), 1981.

(Editor and contributor) Voices from Under: Black Narrative in Latin America and the Caribbean, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 1984.

Literary Bondage: Slavery in Cuban Narrative, University of Texas Press (Austin, TX), 1990.

(Editor, with Julio Rodriguez-Luis, and contributor) Translating Latin America: Culture as Text, State University of New York—Binghamton (Binghamton, NY), 1991.

(Editor) Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 113: Modern Latin-American Fiction Writers, First Series, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1992.

(Editor, with Ann González) Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 145: Modern Latin-American Fiction Writers, Second Series, Gale, 1994.

Dance between Two Cultures: Latino-Caribbean Literature Written in the United States, Vanderbilt University Press (Nashville, TN), 1997.

Culture and Customs of Cuba, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 2001.

Lunes de revolución: literatura y cultura en los primeros años de la Revolución Cubana, Editorial Verbum (Madrid, Spain), 2003.

Contributor to books, including James Arnold, editor, A Literary History of Literature in the Caribbean, John Benjamins (Philadelphia, PA), 1994; Fernando de Toro and Alfonse de Toro, editors, Borders and Margins: Post-Colonialism and Post-Modernism, Iberoamericana (Madrid, Spain), 1995; Roberto Gonzalez Echevarria and Enrique Pupo-Walker, editors, The Cambridge History of Latin American Literature, Cambridge University Press (Cambridge, England), 1996; and Ardis Nelson, editor, Guillermo Cabrera Infante: Assays, Essays, and Other Arts, Twayne (New York, NY), 1999. Contributor of numerous articles and reviews to professional journals, including Afro-Hispanic Review, Hispanic Journal, Modern Language Notes, Cuban Studies/Estudios Cubanos, Revista de estudios Hispaños, Encuentro de la Cultura Cubana, and Journal of Caribbean Studies. Editor, Boletin de la Fundacion Federico García Lorca, 1995.

SIDELIGHTS: William Luis told CA: "My primary motivation for writing is to explore knowledge and ideas and further our understanding of our lives and cultures and how they are represented in the text. I am a specialist in Latin American literature and have written about nineteenth- and twentieth-century Spanish-American, Caribbean, and Afro-Hispanic literatures. Most recently I have broken new ground with Dance between Two Cultures: Latino Caribbean Literature Written in the United States. With this book I look at Latino literature as a new field of study that is interdisciplinary in nature and brings together Spanish-American and U.S. cultures. Whereas some critics have considered the literature as an isolated expression of one particular group, I study the combined literature production, as each expression relates to the others and as a response to similar realities.

"I also write out of an obligation to break stereotypes and prove that we should not judge people on the basis of their origins or ethnicity or socio-economic backgrounds, but on an individual basis. Having lived on the lower east side of Manhattan, in New York, NY, and been raised by a single parent, I was not supposed to be successful in my career. However, through much dedication, hard work, and support from family and friends, I have proven that I can be as successful or more successful than many scholars from privileged backgrounds. Although I am interested in helping all students, I think that members of minorities, like myself, have the added obligation of assisting other minority members, so that they do not have to fight the same battles we have.

"I write about topics that have not been explored or have not been fully explored. I attempt to create a body of knowledge where it does not presently exist. For me writing is somewhat automatic. I start with an idea about literature or a particular concern, and I continue to elaborate on it until I observe that I have said all I can say at that moment about that particular issue. I try not to work from an outline because I consider it too restrictive. I believe that I need to let my mind explore subjects that may not be included in an outline. Ultimately, logic and analysis are what dictate the outcome of my writings. If the process of writing is somewhat automatic, rewriting is a labor of love. Expressing abstract ideas so that they are accessible to the average reader is what I consider to be the most challenging.

"I owe my present success to my education, in particular at the graduate levels. The courses I took at Cornell, especially those in literary criticism and theory, have helped me raise questions which address the broader picture. The single most important person in my career is Professor Roberto González Echevarría, Sterling Professor at Yale University. He is as demanding with his students as he is with himself. Consequently I have learned to be very demanding of myself. My family has also been a very important part of my success. In this regard, my mother deserves all the credit. A Cuban immigrant who never learned to speak English fluently, she was a woman of courage who believed in herself. She was a woman who strove for perfection and instilled the same ideals in her children. We paid very little attention to the harsh socio-political reality that was a part of our lives; rather, we focused more closely on the goals of that reality. Last but not least, I have to thank my wife and my children for helping me carry out what I consider to be my contribution to the profession and society. It has been their sacrifice and understanding that has allowed me to go forward."