José E. Limón, one of the country’s foremost scholars of Latino literature, has been tapped to lead the University of Notre Dame’s Institute for Latino Studies (ILS). As the new director of ILS, he will hold the Julian Samora Chair in Latino Studies.
Timothy Matovina, a leading expert on Latino Catholicism, will serve as executive director of the institute, which is housed in the College of Arts and Letters. Both appointments take effect July 1, 2012.
Established in 1999, the Institute for Latino Studies supports a variety of interdisciplinary initiatives to foster understanding of the U.S. Latino experience.
“I am extraordinarily pleased and grateful for the opportunity to lead the Institute for Latino Studies to even greater prominence and to place it it at the center of the intellectual life at Notre Dame,” Limón says. “I look forward to working with Executive Director Timothy Matovina as well as the College of Arts and Letters and its departmental chairs.”
Limón is the Notre Dame Professor of American Literature in the Department of English and author of three major books in the field of Latino studies: American Encounters: Greater Mexico, the United States and the Erotics of Culture; Dancing with the Devil: Society and Cultural Poetics in Mexican-American South Texas, and Mexican Ballads, Chicano Poems: History and Influence in Mexican-American Social Poetry. The University of Texas Press is set to publish his fourth book, Américo Paredes: Culture and Critique, in fall 2012.
Limón’s academic interests are varied and include cultural studies, Latino literature, anthropology and literature, Mexicans in the United States, U.S.-Mexico cultural relations, critical theory, folklore and popular culture. He also teaches and writes on the literature of the U.S. South.
Matovina, a professor in the Department of Theology, is completing a 10-year term as director of the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism, also housed in the College.
His new book, Latino Catholicism: Transformation in America’s Largest Church, published by Princeton University Press, closely considers the five-century-long history of Latino Catholics in America and how that history has affected them and their Church.
“I look forward to working with my colleague José Limón to build on the strong foundation that Gilberto Cárdenas has laid at the Institute for Latino Studies,” Matovina says.
In announcing the new appointments, College of Arts and Letters Dean John T. McGreevy also praised the work of Cárdenas, who has led ILS since its creation in 1999. An assistant provost and professor of sociology, Cárdenas is a distinguished scholar of Mexican immigration and Latino art.
“Gil Cárdenas’s achievement is to place Notre Dame at the center of Latino studies in the U.S. through his visionary leadership of multiple programs, in fields as diverse as Latino health, immigration, and Latino art,” McGreevy says. “We are deeply grateful for his efforts.”
Latino studies is a key component of the academic mission of the College—and the University, McGreevy says. “The stakes for Notre Dame in Latino studies are unusually high. Latinos are already a central part of American culture, business, and politics, and this influence—important for all Americans, not just Latinos—will only grow in coming decades. At the same time Latinos will soon number half of American Catholics, a development reflected in Notre Dame’s rapidly growing number of Latino students.
“I look forward to working with two eminent scholars—José Limón and Timothy Matovina—in helping us to become preeminent in this area. "