April 20, 2005
Director of Media Relations

AMHERST, Mass.—Ilan Stavans, the Lewis-Sebring Professor of Latin American and Latino Cultures at Amherst College is the editor of the Encyclopedia Latina: History, Culture, Society, ($499, ca. 2000 pp., Grolier Academic Reference, New York 2005), a multidisciplinary, one-million-word four-volume reference work on Latinos in America, covering history, literature, art, popular and folk cultures, science, politics, religion, business, demographics and law.

The growth of the Hispanic population in the United States—more than 40 million people, according to the latest census—has influenced American culture in major cities and the countryside, among young and old, and in education, business, politics and the arts. But the history of Latinos remains unknown to most people. The Encyclopedia Latina, an interdisciplinary reference work that deals with Latino history and culture in the United States from the age of discovery to the present, puts this diverse culture in perspective. Comprehensive and analytical, it presents all aspects of Latino life in the United States as well as the influence and contributions of Hispanic culture. The 650 substantive, signed articles cover topics, issues, organizations, events, themes, movements, U.S. states and cities, national groups and people.

A member of the Amherst faculty since 1993, Stavans is also author of Growing up Latino (1993) and The Hispanic Condition (1995), The Oxford Book of Jewish Stories (1998), On Borrowed Words (2001), The Poetry of Pablo Neruda (2003) and most recently Dictionary Days (2005), a small personal meditation of dictionaries, their history and the role they play in our life. He has noted, “I have made it my quest to approach the English language as an instrument of democratic cohesion and to understand the various ‘minority tongues' used in the United States that function as counterpoints of sorts to Shakespeare's tongue, among them—and primarily—Spanglish.” Stavans has published the first dictionary of Spanglish, titled Spanglish: The Making of a New American Language (2003), and has debated in public the role language plays in public life and civic affairs for African Americans, Latinos and other immigrant groups. Stavans has two other books forthcoming: the Schocken Book of Modern Sephardic Literature and a selection of the interviews that he conducted on Conversations with Ilan Stavans on the WGBH (PBS) program La Plaza. He is also the editor of the forthcoming 2,500-page Norton Anthology of Latino Literature.