UH professor awarded for recovered literature
Brown Foundation Professor of Hispanic Studies Nicolas Kanellos received high honors from Mayor Annise Parker for his work to make American Latinos’ literature available to the world.
Kanellos is the director of Arte Publico Press, the largest nonprofit Latino publication in the United States, and “Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage,” a research program for which he received one of the five Mayor’s Hispanic Heritage Month Awards. Kanellos said he didn’t do it alone.
“The work that we are doing is teamwork. It’s a whole bunch of people that I work with,” he said. “We are trying to recover all literature by Latinos in America, preserve information and make (it) accessible to students all around. We add more text every day. (It’s a) very important research tool.”
So far, Kanellos and his team have recovered more than 500,000 written works of Latinos in America and made them available digitally through Internet research databases.
U.S. Hispanic literature doctoral candidate Mercedes Fernandez worked with Kanellos on the recovery project and was enrolled in one of his classes.
“When Dr. Kanellos teaches his class on Hispanic literature, he often brings his guitar to class and sings ‘corridos.’ Students are often delighted and they cannot believe (it). He’s able to give a serious lecture on literature and then sing popular music or even bring tamales to class,” Fernandez said.
“He’s a professor who emanates an unlimited wisdom, infinite curiosity and catches you with stories that are not told in official history books.”
Hispanic studies doctoral candidate Mariana Alegria looks to Kanellos as a mentor and an inspiration to become a professor.
“I’ve learned a huge lesson on perseverance. He has told me his story and how back in the day, there were people that didn’t believe in his projects and how many times he heard the word ‘no.’ He worked harder and harder until he saw his vision consolidated,” Algeria said. “After the success of the recovery project and Arte Publico Press, I see him arrive to the office with so much passion and drive, I feel deeply moved and inspired to work harder and, like him, never lose my passion.”
Kanellos loves his work but still keeps everything in perspective by advocating teamwork, helping and inspiring students and putting family first.
“The dearest thing I hold is family, my wife and son. After that, (my) work with students,” Kanellos said.