Yale Bulletin and Calendar

February 1, 2002Volume 30, Number 16

Rolena Adorno

Rolena Adorno is appointed
the Reuben Halleck Professor

Rolena Adorno, the new Reuben Halleck Professor of Spanish Literature, has done groundbreaking work in Latin American literary and cultural studies.

Adorno's scholarly work focuses on the field of literary cultural production in colonial Latin America. Her early writings centered on works produced by native Amerindian and mestizo (mixed race) writers of the first generation born after the Spanish conquests. This work helped reconceptualize ways of thinking about the writings and literature of the first two centuries of Spanish-American culture.

More recently, Adorno has explored the first 50 years of the Spanish presence in the Americas, looking particularly at the Castilian-authored foundational writings of Spanish-American cultural tradition. These include early exploration accounts, such as that of Spanish explorer Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, and the historical, theoretical and polemical works of Spanish colonist and priest Fray Bartolomé de las Casas. Adorno's goal in this area has been to reassess the role these works have played in shaping ways of thinking and writing about America, its landscapes and its peoples.

Adorno's three-volume book on early Spanish exploration in North America, "Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca: His Account, His Life, and the Expedition of Pánfilo de Narváez" (coauthored with her former Princeton University student Patrick C. Pautz), was honored in 2000 with three prizes: the American Historical Association's J. Franklin Jameson Award, the New England Council of Latin American Studies' Best Book Award and the Western Historical Association's Dwight L. Smith (ABC-CLIO) Award. Cabeza de Vaca's account of his ill-fated expedition of 1527 is considered the quintessential tale of the European confronting -- for the first time -- the wilderness of North America and its inhabitants.

Adorno's other books include "Guaman Poma: Writing and Resistance in Colonial Peru" and "Cronista y príncipe: la obra de don Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala." She edited "From Oral to Written Expression: Native Andean Chronicles of the Early Colonial Period" and co-edited "Transatlantic Encounters: Europeans and Andeans in the Sixteenth Century" and "El primer nueva corónica y buen gobierno de Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala." She is currently working on a book on North American writers of the 19th century and their reappropriation of the Spanish chronicles of conquest and discovery.

Adorno has also played a leading role in the scholarly preparation of early Latin American manuscripts for the internet. As a consultant to the Department of Manuscripts and Rare Books at the Royal Library of Denmark in Copenhagen, she helped develop a digitized edition of "Nueva corónica y buen gobierno," the 1,200-page manuscript of 17th-century Peruvian Indian writer Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala.

A graduate of the University of Iowa, Adorno earned her Ph.D. in Spanish literature from Cornell University. Before coming to Yale in 1996, she taught at Syracuse, Ohio State and Princeton universities and the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. She has served as director of graduate studies at Yale since 1997.

Last year, Adorno was honored by the University of Iowa with a Distinguished Alumni Award for Achievement. Her other honors include the Chancellor's University Scholar-Teacher of the Year Award from Syracuse University. She held a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1989 and a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship in 1986.

An honorary associate of the Hispanic Society of America, Adorno is a member of the National Advisory Council of the John Carter Brown Library. She serves on the editorial boards of Colonial Latin American Review, Hispanic Issues, Indiana Journal of Hispanic Literatures and Latin American Literary Review.


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