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Associated Press Newswires

AS Hispanic Anthology

Restoration of U.S. Hispanic Literature Nears Milestone at University of Houston; Arte Publico Press Prepares Publication of Spanish Anthology; Work Progresses on Individual Manuscripts

April 2, 2002
Copyright © 2002
The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

HOUSTON -- Restoring the literary history of U.S. Hispanics started 10 years ago when Nicolas Kanellos and his colleagues at Arte Publico Press at the University of Houston set out across North America in pursuit of Hispanic manuscripts.

Since then scholars and researchers from around the country have been engaged in helping the Press continue the effort of "Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage Project." They have combed through libraries, lost archives and forgotten homes to uncover the musings of Hispanic and Latino writers who explored, settled and lived in the United States since the 1500s.

In April, the project will reach a milestone: the Press will publish the first comprehensive collection of U.S. Hispanic plays, poems, journals, fictional excerpts and articles in Spanish - "En Otra Voz: Antologia de Literatura Espana de Los Estado Unidos" or "Herencia: The Anthology of Hispanic Literature in the United States." The anthology includes works never before made public, from the Age of Exploration to the present, beginning with Cabeza de Vaca's account of his journey to the New World.

What distinguishes this anthology is its historical depth and complex portrait of Hispanic literature in the United States, says Kanellos. It is the most comprehensive literary collection available - the original manuscripts are stored in the Arte de Publico archives on the UH campus - spanning more than three centuries and including writers from all major Hispanic ethnic communities, as well as writing from diverse genres.

"The 'Anthology' is extremely important for us and the literary world because it provides many lost chapters in American cultural history," says Kanellos. "I feel that we are making a positive contribution to society, hopefully leading to social progress and change. We're illustrating how Hispanics have been part of building the United States and should be part of the national image."

But publication of the anthology is just the latest accomplishment of the recovery project. Kanellos' team will continue to search for "lost" Hispanic literature and to make the works already recovered available to all educational institutions via the Internet through a subscription service.

Initially funded in large part by the Rockefeller Foundation, the recovery project represents the first nationally coordinated attempt to recover, index and publish lost Latino writings that date from the 15th century through 1960. In addition to making available novels, poetry essays, and other literary works by U.S. Hispanics from these centuries, the project is continuing to reclaim and make available periodicals, gather and share bibliographic information about U.S. Hispanic authors, preserve and expand archives, and integrate and further the development of curriculum at all levels that accurately represents Hispanic cultures and their literary contributions.

The recovery team consists of three full time staff and 12 research assistants. In addition to the employees there is a 25-member advisory board, including professors from universities around the country, representing various Hispanic ethnic groups and regions.

As the front-runner in the field of U.S. Hispanic literary publishing, Kanellos has made Hispanic literature available to all people. Based on years of archival research he has reconstructed the history of Hispanic theatre in the United States. It is his vision of a showcase for Hispanic literary creativity, arts and culture that has taken Arte Publico Press from its beginnings on the artistic fringe to its current status as the oldest, most accomplished publisher of literature by U.S. Hispanic authors.

Arte Publico Press was established in 1979. Since then it has received critical praise in publications such as The New York Times Book Review and the Los Angeles Times. The Press is committed to providing a voice of Hispanic descent and heritage. It has been the leader in developing an audience for U.S. Hispanic literature. Through its publication of 30 books per year, Arte Publico Press showcases literary creativity, arts and culture to facilitate entrance into mainstream publishing and media for Hispanic authors and the people they write about. The English translation of this project was published in October 2001 by the Oxford University Press.

Institute Affiliations of Advisory Board Members:

State University of New York

University of Central Florida

St. Mary's University, San Antonio

Universidad de Puerto Rico Recinto de Rio Piedras

Rice University Carnegie Mellon

University of Texas at Austin

The Colorado College

Hunter College of City University of New York

Brooklyn College of City University of New York

Syracuse University

Stanford University

Instituto Nacional de Antropologia e Historia de Mexico

University of Arizona

University of California at Berkeley

University of California at Santa Barbara

University of California at San Diego

University of New Mexico Oregon State University

Additional information on the Project can be found at For more information about the University of Houston please visit

About the University of Houston

The University of Houston, Texas' premier metropolitan research and teaching institution, is home to more than 40 research centers and institutes and sponsors more than 300 partnerships with corporate, civic and governmental entities. UH, the most diverse research university in the country, stands at the forefront of education, research and service with more than 33,000 students.

Media Contact: Leticia Konigsberg, UH Office of External Communications 713/743-8152 (office)or 713/617-7143 (pager); LKonigsberg(at)

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