Title: William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor Emeritus of Latin American and Caribbean Studies
Company: Mount Holyoke College
Location: South Hadley, Massachusetts, United States
Roberto Márquez has been recognized by Marquis Who’s Who Top Educators for dedication, achievements, and leadership in education.
William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor Emeritus of Latin American and Caribbean Studies at Mount Holyoke College, Professor Márquez has had a more than four-decades-long career of uncommon excellence and distinction as a literary translator, journal-founding editor, literary critic, cultural commentator, teacher, and scholar.
Born and raised in the hardscrabble working-class precincts of Spanish Harlem’s “El Barrio,” Professor Márquez graduated from New York City’s Aviation High School as an FAA-certified aviation mechanic in 1960. Only very briefly employed as such, he went on to work, until the summer of 1962, in the Acquisitions Division of the main 42nd Street branch of The New York Public Library. Professor Márquez is also an alumnus of the Bronx Community College Evening Division’s Ford Foundation-Funded “Operation Second Chance” Program, from which he went on to receive a B.A. in Comparative Literature on a four-year scholarship from Brandeis University in 1966. At Brandeis, in that same year, he was awarded the Charles Behr Prize for Outstanding Achievement and the Dorothy Blumenfeld Moyer Prize for creative work in Languages and Literature. He was the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship for a year of post-graduate study and research in Peru as well. While there, working on and publishing translations of the work of contemporary Peru’s writers and poets, and auditing courses on Peruvian literary and cultural history at the Universidad National Mayor de San Marcos, he also taught American literature at Lima’s Centro Cultural Peruano Norteamericano. On his return to the United States in the late spring and early summer of 1967, he served as Area Coordinator of the (Middlesex County) Migrant Education Project of the Massachusetts Commonwealth Service Corps, before, in the fall, entering Harvard’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, where, in 1970, he went on to receive an M.A. and, in 1975, a PhD in Romance Languages and Literature. In the summer of 1969, he also served as a graduate teaching assistant in that University’s summer school. The summers of 1968 and 1969 would also see him back at Brandeis as a member of its Upward Bound Program’s teaching staff and, for the academic year beginning in the fall of 1969, as Coordinator of Instruction and Assistant to the Director of the University’s then newly minted and still vibrantly on-going Transitional Year Program (TYP).
Professor Márquez’s subsequent full-time career membership in the professoriate notably began in the fall of 1970 as one of the “founding members of the faculty” at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts. Over the course of his sixteen years tenure at Hampshire, he was singled out and honored by being named as the first incumbent to the College’s then-newly created Harold F. Johnson Professorial Chair. While at Hampshire, he was also the recipient of a National Endowment for the Humanities Research Fellowship, a Tinker Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship, and a Coordinating Council on Literary Magazines (CCLM) Editor’s Fellowship Award in recognition of his work as founding-editor of Caliban: A Journal of New World Thought and Writing (1975-81). In 1977 and 2009, he served as a member of the International Jury awarding the prestigious Casa de Las Americas Literary Prize, Latin America’s oldest and most prestigious literary distinction, in the categories, respectively, of “Anglo-Antillean Literature” and “Essays On Latino@s in the United States.” From September 1971 to January 1972, he similarly accepted an invitation briefly to teach as a Visiting Professor at the State University of New York at Old Westbury.
On leaving Hampshire College in 1986, Professor Márquez went on to George Mason University for the following three years as Clarence J. Robinson University Professor of Hispanic American and Caribbean Culture. Subsequently accepting the invitation to become the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Latin American and Caribbean Studies at Mount Holyoke College, he returned once again to the Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts in 1989, remaining at Mount Holyoke for the following twenty-four years and until his retirement as a now Emeritus member of its faculty in June 2013. While at Mount Holyoke, he was also able, with its consent, positively to respond to periodic requests and invitations to serve as a Visiting Professor also teaching courses at other institutions within the Five College Consortium, such as at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst (1996,1997, and 2007) and Amherst College (2005, 2010). For the two years immediately following his retirement, he also accepted an invitation from the Graduate Department of Languages and Literature, Division of Spanish and Portuguese Studies, at the University of Massachusetts to teach successive (Fall, 2013 and Fall, 2014) courses on Caribbean Literature and “The Hispanic Caribbean and Its Diasporas: Latin@ Literature and Society in the United States.”
Active participant within the broader ambit and panorama of his wider professional landscape, Professor Márquez has served as a member and advisor on various boards and directing councils of different educational institutions, community organizations, editorial boards, and professional associations. These include, among others, membership on the Advisory Board of the Curbstone Press (1988-1990), the Board of Directors of the North American Congress on Latin America [NACLA] (1981-1991), the Editorial Board of NACLA’s Report on the Americas (1991-1996), the Editorial Board of The Massachusetts Review (1973-1986), the Board of Directors of the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities (1994-2000), the Board of Managing Editors (1987-1989) and Board of Advisory Editors of The American Quarterly (1989-1994) and the National Advisory Council of the Institute of the Black World (1975-1979). He also served on the Board of Directors of the Girls Club Inc, of Holyoke, Massachussetts from 1993 to 1995. A member of the Board of Trustees of Hampshire College from 1988 to 1996, he similarly served on the Board of Visitors of Bennett College from 2004 to 2006, and was a founding/charter member of the Latino Studies Journal, also serving for a number of years on its International Advisory Board. He currently serves on the Advisory Board of Small Axe: A Caribbean Journal of Criticism. A member of the Advisory Committee to the Clarence L. Holte Literary Prize in 1986, he was also for many years, and until 2007, one among the Associate Editors of the University of Virginia Press’s New World Series of publications. Council Member (1997-1999) and Co-Chair (2001-2003) of the Latin American Studies Association’s (LASA) Latino Studies Section, in 2007, he was elected Vice President (2008-2010) and subsequently served as President (2010-2012) of the Puerto Rican Studies Association (PRSA), planning, organizing, and presiding, in 2012, at its biannual Congress’ celebration of the Association’s Twentieth Anniversary.
Recognized for the exceptional caliber for his many translations from the work of a wide variety of Latin American and Caribbean poets and writers, and for his equally compelling work in the field of Caribbean literary and cultural history, Professor Márquez is the editor of more than three volumes of the poetry of Nicolás Guillén (1902-1989), Cuba’s Afro-Hispanic National Poet, including Patria o Muerte: The Great Zoo and Other Poems (1972), My Last Name and Other Poems (2002) and (with D.A. McMurray) Man-Making Words: Selected Poems of Nicolás Guillén (1972, 2003). One of only three non-Cubans to be then so honored, in 2002 he was awarded the Union of Cuban Artists and Writers (UNEAC) Nicolás Guillén Centennial Commemorative Medal in recognition of his “outstanding contributions [as translator and scholar] to the dissemination and knowledge of [the poet’s] work,” and with Honorary Membership to the Cuban Fundación Nicolás Guillén. Editor, as well, of the bilingual collection Latin American Revolutionary Poetry (1974), Professor Márquez is also translator-editor of Puerto Rican Poetry: An Anthology from Aboriginal to Contemporary Times. The first collection of its kind and broad historical scope yet available in English, it was awarded the New England Council of Latin American Studies (NECLAS) 2008 Prize for Translation.
A World among These Islands: Essays on Literature, Race, and National Identity in Antillean America (2010), Professor Márquez’s first published collection of essays, was similarly well-received. The preeminent Caribbean scholar, critic, and historian David Hulme specifically pointed to “Marquez’s formidably archipelagic knowledge of the region” and how he “ranges masterfully across centuries and across islands, making the kinds of connections and discriminations that both enrich understanding and set the imagination racing.” “No literary and cultural critic [he continues] has done more in recent years to try to keep that [Pan-Caribbean] wholeness in some kind of focus without losing sight of the detail of its constituent parts. His work has the range of such illustrious predecessors as Adolph Roberts, Gordon Lewis, and Edouard Glissant.” Even as they “demonstrate Márquez’s strength as a cultural historian” these essays, he concludes, further argue “that he has no superior when it comes to close literary analysis.”
Professor Márquez’s scholarly work, individual reviews, and commentaries have appeared in a variety of publications here and abroad, including in Sin Nombre (Puerto Rico), La Torre (Puerto Rico), Casa de Las Américas (Havana), Escritura (Venezuela), Jamaica Journal (Kingstown), West Indian Guide (Baltimore & The Hague), Anales del Caribe (Havana), Al margen (Colombia), Ideologies and Literature, Latin American Research Review, The New York Times Book Review, The Village Voice Literary Supplement, The Latino Review of Books, The Latino/a Research Review, and Centro: Journal of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies, as well as in the Encyclopedia of Latin American History and Culture, and the Encyclopedia of African American Culture and History.
In 2001, Professor Márquez was honored with the Pioneer Valley Latino Scholarship Association’s Antonia Pantoja Award for his scholarly achievements and “significant contribution to education in the broadest sense,.. [and his] demonstrated commitment to the support and academic achievement of area Latino students…to social justice and support of community.” In 2006, he was also privileged to receive a Luis Reyes Rivera Lifetime Achievement Award.
Over the course of his career, Professor Márquez has traveled, lived, studied, and worked in various parts of Spain, South America, and the Caribbean, including Jamaica, Trinidad, Guyana, Cuba, Brazil, Panama, Colombia and Nicaragua. In the years since his retirement, he continues to pursue his activities as book reviewer, cultural commentator and literary translator. In 2019, he published The Poet’s Prose and Other Essays: National Identity, and Diaspora in the Americas, a second collection of his essays. “A Gathering of Sonnets,” an as yet unpublished collection of his lyric translations into English of that classic form from the work of poets extending from Spain’s 17th century Golden Age into Latin America and the Hispanic Caribbean’s later, more contemporary poetic production, soon followed . He has, more recently, turned to work on a memoir.”
For more information, please visit:
Mount Holyoke College – Roberto Márquez
Contact Dr. Márquez: