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Personal profile

Personal profile

Born in Puerto Rico, Mariselle Meléndez is Professor of Colonial Spanish American Literatures and Cultures and a Conrad Humanities Scholar (2011-2016) at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. Her research focuses on issues of race and gender in colonial Spanish America with special interest in the eighteenth century, the cultural phenomenon of the Enlightenment, global coloniality, as well as visual studies. She is the author of Deviant and Useful Citizens: The Cultural Production of the Female Body in Eighteenth-Century Peru (Vanderbilt University Press, 2011). Raza, género e hibridez en El lazarillo de ciegos caminantes [Race, Gender, and Hibridity in El lazarillo de ciegos caminantes (University of North Carolina Studies in Romance Languages and Literatures, 1999), and co-editor of Mapping Colonial Spanish America: Places and Commonplaces of Identity, Culture, and Experience (Bucknell University Press, 2002). Her articles have appeared in journals such as: Colonial Latin American ReviewBulletin of Spanish Studies, Latin American Literary Review, Hispanic ReviewRevista Iberoamericana, Revista de crítica literaria latinoamericana, Dieciocho Hispanic Enlightenment, and Revista de Estudios Hispánicos, among many others. Along with Karen Stolley she co-edited a special issue "The Enlightenment in Colonial Spanish America" in Colonial Latin American Review  (2015). She is working on a current book manuscript entitled, The Cultural Geography of Spanish AmericanPorts in the Age of the Enlightenment. 

Research Interests

Colonial Spanish America
Race and Gender
The Enlightenment
Visual and Cultural Studies

Professional Information

See a selected list of publications below.

Work in progress:

- Patriotic  Enlightenments: Local Epistemologies and Transnational Exchanges in Eighteenth-century Spanish American Newspapers.  (Book-length project)

The Cultural Geography of Spanish American Ports in the Age of the Enlightenment. (Book-lengthproject)


Ph.D. Spanish American Literature, University of Wisconsin, Madison (1993)
Master of Arts-Spanish, University of Wisconsin-Madison (1987)
Bachelor of Arts-Hispanic Studies (University of Puerto Rico-Río Piedras [Magna Cum Laude] (1986)

Honors & Awards

Awarded by the Comisión Ejecutiva Puertorriqueña de la Juventud and UNESCO a medal and certificate of recognition as “Joven destacado de Puerto Rico” (Outstanding Young Puerto Rican). Award based on professional merits. (Spring 2001)
Conrad Humanities Scholar Award, LAS University of Illinois (2011-2016)


Program for Cultural Cooperation between Spain’s Ministry of Culture and United States Universities.
National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend (NEH), 1997
University of Illinois Campus Research Board


Office Address

4080 FLB

Office Phone

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Research Output

Negotiating subjectivities on the fringes of the empire: The port city of cartagena de Indias as site of social and political convergence

Meléndez, M., Jan 1 2019, The Routledge Companion to the Hispanic Enlightenment. Taylor and Francis, p. 142-156 15 p.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

  • Geography and the enlightenment: Patriotic views of the port city of Havana, 1761–1791

    Meléndez, M., Jan 1 2018, In : Latin American Research Review. 53, 1, p. 139-151 13 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Women's voices in eighteenth-century Spanish American newspapers

    Meléndez, M., Dec 1 2016, Women's Negotiations and Textual Agency in Latin America, 1500-1799. Taylor and Francis Inc., p. 177-199 23 p.

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

    Introduction: Enlightenments in ibero-America

    Meléndez, M. & Stolley, K., Jan 2 2015, In : Colonial Latin American Review. 24, 1, p. 1-16 16 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview article