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Saldivar receives National Humanities Medal

Ramón Saldívar, professor of English and comparative literature, received the 2011 National Humanities Medal Monday.


President Obama presented Saldívar, along with eight other recipients, with the award, intended to recognize individuals or groups whose work has “deepened the nation’s understanding of the humanities,” in a White House ceremony.


The National Endowment for the Humanities first began granting the honor, which it may bestow on up to 12 candidates each year, in 1997. James Williford, a writer based in Dallas, Texas, wrote a description of Saldívar’s work on the organization’s website, calling Saldívar “one of the nation’s foremost scholars of Chicano literature and the hybrid culture that it sprang from.”


Williford commented how Saldívar grew up in a working-class, Spanish-speaking household in Brownsville, Texas, a border town that stands on the edge of both American and Mexican culture. He added how, after attending the University of Texas at Austin and Yale University, Saldivar used his upbringing to inform his work, “The Borderlands of Culture: Américo Paredes and the Transnational Imaginary,” which Williford deemed “a masterpiece.”


Saldívar’s work “beckons us to notice the cultural and literary markings that unite and divide us,” read he White House press release on the award.


Saldívar has taught at Stanford since 1991 and has served as chair of the English Department and the Comparative Literature Department, in addition to having served as the University’s first vice provost for undergraduate education.


–Kurt Chirbas