Senate Faculty

Kirsten Silva Gruesz
  • Title
    • Professor
  • Division Humanities Division, Social Sciences Division
  • Department
    • Literature Department
    • Oakes College
  • Affiliations Latin American & Latino Studies, Critical Race and Ethnic Studies, Dolores Huerta Research Center for the Americas
  • Phone
  • Email
  • Fax
  • Office Location
    • Humanities Building 1, 636
  • Office Hours Winter 2024: in person Thursdays 3-4; remote by Zoom Mondays 11-12. Please email me for the Zoom link (current students may access through Canvas)
  • Mail Stop Humanities Academic Services
  • Mailing Address
    • 1156 High Street
    • Santa Cruz CA 95064
  • Faculty Areas of Expertise Latino/a Studies; American Studies; Print Media; Bilingualism, Multilingualism; Critical Race and Ethnic Studies; Chicana/o Studies; California History
  • Courses LIT 80N, Latino Expressions in the US; LIT 145, Colonial American Literatures; LIT 165, Chicano/Mexicano Geographies; Nineteenth-Century American Fiction; LIT 190, Senior Seminar: Moby Dick and Its Avatars; Nineteenth-Century American Poetry / Whitman; Latin/o American Fiction; LIT 102, Translation Theory

Summary of Expertise

Hemispheric and comparative studies of the Americas, colonial period to present. Chicano/Latino(a/x) literary cultures. 19th-century US literature. History of the book and print culture. Bilingualism, literacy studies, translation studies.

Research Interests

For a sample of published works, please see the "Publications" column.  My works in progress include:

  • A Marriage Like Many Others: scholarly edition and translation of what may be the first Latino novel, serially published in New Orleans in 1849 by E.J. Gomez
  • A co-authored article on the late writer H.G. Carrillo.
  • An article on the sentimentalization of the migrant mother, from Uncle Tom's Cabin to American Dirt.
  • An article on Juan Felipe Herrera's poem "Borderbus" and Felicia Rice's art book of it.


Biography, Education and Training

I am a first-generation college student, born in California to a Mexican and German-American family. I got my BA in History at Swarthmore and my PhD in Comparative Literature at Yale. I am interested in the changing conditions of literary production and reception: who gets to say what's good, or what's worth remembering? What languages and linguistic registers have social power, and who gets access to them? These are the questions I ask about English- and Spanish-language materials from across the Americas, from the seventeenth century to the present. I also write about and teach contemporary works by U.S. Latinx folks, whose experiences are deeply rooted in the entangled histories of colonization and racism that link the U.S. to Mexico and Central America, as well as the Caribbean, with particular force. I am active in research clusters and initiatives both on campus and elsewhere that emphasize multilingual approaches to "American" literature and history.

Honors, Awards and Grants

Executive Coordinator, Society of Early Americanists (2023-25)

National Endowment for the Humanities Faculty Fellowship, 2016

Elected to membership in the American Antiquarian Society, 2011

Frederick Burkhardt Fellowship, American Council of Learned Societies, 2005-06

Longtime member of the Board of the Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage Project

Selected Publications



Cotton Mather's Spanish Lessons: A Story of Language, Race, and Belonging in the Early Americas. Harvard University Press, 2022. This book has won the American Historical Association's Albert J. Beveridge Award for Best Book in the history of the Americas post-1492; the Best Book Award from the Society for the History of Authorship, Readership, and Publishing from SHARP; the Early American Literature Book Award (2020-2023); and the John Winthrop Award  in Early New England History from the Colonial Society of Massachusetts.  

Ambassadors of Culture: The Transamerican Origins of Latino Writing. Princeton University Press, Translation/Transnation series, 2002. Honorable Mention, John Hope Franklin Prize for Best Book in American Studies, American Studies Association, 2002.


"Lanuza, Mendía, & Co. and the Unfinished Business of Spanish-Language Bibliography," Early American Literature, 2023.

“Maritime Pedagogies: Or, How Much Spanish Did Melville Know?" Leviathan: A Journal of Melville Studies, 2021.

“Before Latinx: New Orleans as a Center of Spanish-Language Literary Culture.” In New Orleans: The Literary History, ed. T.R. Johnson. Cambridge UP 2019.

“Past Americana.” ELH: English Literary History. Summer 2019, vol. 86:2.

"Transamerican New Orleans: From the Spanish Period to Post-Katrina,” Cambridge History of Latino/a Literature, eds. John Morán González and Laura Lomas, 2018.

“’Poor Eliza’ On the Border.” “Forum: Afterlives of Nineteenth-Century Racism.” J19: The Journal of Nineteenth-Century Americanists 6:1 (spring 2018), 182-189.

“Unsettlers and Speculators,” PMLA 131:3 (May 2016), 743-751.

“The Errant Latino: Irisarri, Central Americanness, and Migration’s Intention,” The Latino Nineteenth Century, eds. Rodrigo Lazo and Jesse Alemán (NYU Press, 2016), 20-48.

“Alien Speech, Incorporated: On the Cultural History of Spanish in the U.S.” American Literary History 25:1 (spring 2013), 18-32.

“Authors, Readers, and the Mediations of Print Culture.” The Routledge Companion to Latino/a Literature, eds. Suzanne Bost and Frances Aparicio (Routledge, 2012), 485-494.

“What Was Latino Literature?” PMLA 127:2 (March 2012), 335-341.

“Mexican/American: The Making of Borderlands Print Culture,” US Popular Print Culture, 1860-1920, ed. Christine Bold (Oxford UP, History of Popular Print Culture series, 2011), 457-476.

“Tracking the First Latino Novel: Un matrimonio como hay muchos (1849) and Transnational Print Culture,” in Transnationalism and American Serial Fiction, ed. Patricia Okker (Routledge, 2011), 36-63.

“Worlding America: The Hemispheric Text-Network” in Robert Levine and Caroline S. Levander, eds., The Blackwell Companion to American Literary Studies (Blackwell, 2011), 228-247. Co-authored with Susan Gillman.

"The Conquest of Tenochtitlán" and "Richard Henry Dana in California,"  in A New Literary History of America, gen. eds. Greil Marcus, Werner Sollors, Lindsay Waters, Harvard University Press (2009). I served on the Editorial Board for this volume.

“Maria Gowen Brooks, In and Out of the Poe Circle,” ESQ: A Journal of the American Renaissance, 54 (fall 2008), 75-109.

“Walt Whitman, Latino Poet,” in Walt Whitman: Where the Future Becomes Present, eds. David Haven Blake and Michael Robertson (University of Iowa Press - Iowa Whitman Series, 2008), 151-176.

“The Cafetal of María del Occidente and the Anglo-American Race for Cuba,” in The Traffic in Poems: Anglo-American Poetry in the Nineteenth-Century Literary Marketplace, ed. Meredith McGill (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2008), 37-62.

“The Once and Future Latino: Notes toward a Literary History todavía por llegar,” in Contemporary Latino/a Literary Criticism, eds. Lyn DiIoria Sandín and Richard Pérez (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007), 115-142.

“The Mercurial Space of ‘Central’ America: New Orleans, Honduras, and the Writing of the Banana Republic,” in Hemispheric American Studies, eds. Caroline Levander and Robert S. Levine (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2007), 140-165.

“America,” in Keywords of American Cultural Studies, eds. Bruce Burgett and Glenn Hendler (New York University Press, 2007; revised for second edition, 2014 and third edition, 2020).

“The Gulf of Mexico System and the ‘Latinness’ of New Orleans,” American Literary History 18:4 (Fall 2006), 468-495.

“Other Languages, Other Americas,” in The Blackwell Companion to American Fiction, 1780-1865, ed. Shirley Samuels. New York: Blackwell Press, 2004.

“Translation: A Key(word) into the Language of America(nists),” American Literary History 16:1 (Winter 2004), 85-92.

“Utopía Latina: The Ordinary Seaman in Extraordinary Times.” Modern Fiction Studies 49:1 (Spring 2003), 54-83.


The Spanish Americas. Special issue of Early American Literature, co-edited with Rodrigo Lazo and with a co-written Introduction. Fall 2018, 58:3.

A New Literary History of America. Eds. Greil Marcus and Werner Sollors. Editorial Board member and contributor (“1521: Mexico in America,” “1836: Richard Henry Dana, Jr."). Harvard University Press, 2009.




Teaching Interests

See sections on expertise/research interests/courses taught.