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-forthcoming in paperback in 2020). 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: LatinAmerican Research Review, 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). Her current book project Fluid Spaces and Transient Bodies: The Cultural and Racial Geography of Spanish American Ports in the Eighteenth Century is in advanced contract with Vanderbilt University Press. 

Research Interests

  • Colonial Spanish America
  • Coloniality
  • Enlightenment
  • Environmental Studies
  • Food Studies
  • 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-length project)


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)
  • 2019-20 University of Illinois President’s Executive Leadership Program (PELP) Fellow. 


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


Spanish 535 “Visual Culture in Colonial Spanish America: From the Construction of Space to the Corporeal View of the World.”
SPAN535 “The Limits of Racial Formation: Constructing Black Identities in Colonial Spanish American Texts”
Spanish 442 “Visualizing Difference in Colonial Spanish America: From Bodily Representations to the Production of Space
Spanish 530 “Historiography, Literariness, and Visual Expressions in Colonial Spanish America.”

SPAN324 "Africa in Colonial LatinaAmerica: Diasporas and the CulturesWithin"

SPAN 324 "Why We Eat What We Eat: Food and Culture in Colonial Spanish America"
SPAN 324 “Ecology and Natural Disasters in Colonial Spanish America”
SPAN 324 “Objects in Motion: The Circulation of Culture in Colonial Spanish America”
SPAN 535 “Indigeneity in Latin America”

Office Address

4080 FLB

Office Phone


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