• Home
  • Marta Caminero-Santangelo

Marta M. Caminero-Santangelo, Ph.D.

Primary office:


I was born to Cuban immigrant parents in Canada, grew up in Pittsburgh, PA, earned my BA in English from Yale University and my PhD in English from UC Irvine. I came to KU as an Assistant Professor in 1997.


I teach courses in U.S. Latina/o literature, African-American literature, literature of social justice, and 20th Century U.S. literature

Teaching Interests

  • Latino
  • Latina
  • African-American
  • U.S. Ethnic
  • Social Justice
  • 20th-Century American


The central issue I address in my work on 20th century U.S. literary studies is the conjunction between literature, group identity, and what we might call activism, or the ability to promote social change. In the last ten years, my research has focused on how these issues play themselves out in U.S. Latino/a literature. Recent literary scholarship has paid particular attention to how literature, understood broadly to include life-writing, oral histories, and testimonio, can contribute to “community” building, solidarity movements, social activism, and human rights struggles, and can thus play a role in inducing social change. It is this possibility that my scholarship is concerned with. My research is guided by an investment in making literary studies relevant to the "real"--to real, lived experiences--and in connecting what I do as a literary critic to larger discussions of effective social and political practices for groups that have experienced marginalization, disempowerment, or more extreme forms of oppression. As I see it, literature is one of many cultural forms that can participate in this larger discussion, because "good stories" tell powerful, engrossing narratives about who we are, what our place in the world is, what we can do about it, and what challenges we may face along the way. Literature can also introduce educated, middle-class audiences in the West to social crises far removed from them.

Most recently, my research in this area has focused on Latino/a literary representations of undocumented immigration into the U.S. In my new book project, “‘Illegal’: Narrating the Non-Nation,” I am interested in how Latino/a narratives (both fictional and non-fictional) negotiate the central currents of popular discourse about “illegal” immigration, and how it attempts (as it often does) to engage readers’ imaginations and move them to a position of solidarity with immigrants.

Research Interests

  • U.S. Latino/a narrative, 20th-century American women's literature, African-American narrative, 20th-century American literature, critical theories of race and ethnicity, feminist criticism


In addition to University service, I work with immigrant rights organizations and give community presentations on U.S. Latino/a literature and culture and immigrant rights.

Selected Publications

Caminero-Santangelo, Marta. Documenting the Undocumented: Latino Narrative and Social Justice in the Era of Operation Gatekeeper. University of Florida Press, . Forthcoming. 350 p.

Caminero-Santangelo, Marta. "Historias Transfronterizas: Contemporary U.S. Latino Literature of Migration." Cambridge Companion to Latino/a Literature. Ed. John Moran Gonzalez. 2016. Forthcoming.

Caminero-Santangelo, Marta. "The New Sanctuary Movement." Oxford Encyclopedia of Latinos and Latinas in Contemporary Politics, Law and Social Movements. Ed. Suzanne Oboler, Ed. Deena J. González. Oxford UP, 2015.

Caminero-Santangelo, Marta. "Latinidad." The Routledge Companion to Latina/o Literature. Ed. Frances Aparicio, Ed. Suzanne Bost. New York: Routledge, 2013. 13-24.

Caminero-Santangelo, Marta. "Narrating the Non-Nation: Literary Journalism and Illegal' Border Crossings." Arizona Quarterly 68.3 (Autumn 2012): 157-176.

Caminero-Santangelo, Marta. "The Voice of the Voiceless: Religious Rhetoric, Undocumented Immigrants, and the New Sanctuary Movement in the United States." Sanctuary Practices in International Perspectives: Migration, Citizenship and Social Movements. Ed. Randy Lippert, Ed. Sean Rehaag. New York: Routledge, 2012.

Caminero-Santangelo, Marta. "Documenting the Undocumented: Life Narratives of Undocumented Immigrants." Biography 35.3 (Summer 2012): 449-471.

Caminero-Santangelo, Marta. "Central Americans in the City: Goldman, Tobar, and the Question of Panethnicity." Contemporary Literary Criticism 298 (Jan. 2011): 217-230.

Caminero-Santangelo, Marta. "The Lost Ones: Post Gatekeeper Border Fiction and the Construction of Cultural Trauma." Latino Studies 8 (Autumn 2010): 304-327.

Caminero-Santangelo, Marta, and Roy Boland. "Moving Stories: Trauma and the Migrating Trujillo Narrative." Spec. issue of Introduction to Antípodas: Journal of Hispanic and Galician Studies 20 (2009): 1-3.

Caminero-Santangelo, Marta, Boland, Roy (Ed.). "Trujillo, Trauma, Testimony: Mario Vargas Llosa, Julia Alvarez, Edwidge Danticat, Junot Díaz and other writers on Hispaniola." Spec. issue of Antípodas: Journal of Hispanic and Galician Studies 20 (2009): 262 p.

Caminero-Santangelo, Marta. "At the Intersection of Trauma and Testimonio: Edwidge Danticat's The Farming of Bones." Antípodas: Journal of Hispanic and Galician Studies (Oct. 2009): 5-26.

Caminero-Santangelo, Marta. "Central Americans in the City: Goldman, Tobar, and the Question of Panethnicity." LIT: Literature, Interpretation, Theory 20.3 (Jul. 2009): 173-95.

Caminero-Santangelo, Marta. On Latinidad: US Latino Literature and the Construction of Ethnicity. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2007. 296 p.

Caminero-Santangelo, Marta. "Multiple Personality and the Postmodern Subject: Theorizing Agency." Shirley Jackson: Essays on the Literary Legacy. Ed. Bernice M. Murphy. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, 2005. 52-80.

Caminero-Santangelo, Marta. "The Pleas of the Desperate: Collective Agency versus Magical Realism in Ana Castillo's So Far From God." Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature 24.1 (Spring 2005): 81-103.

Caminero-Santangelo, Marta. "Moving Beyond 'The Blank White Spaces': Atwood, Postmodernism, and Strategic Resistance." Bloom's Guides: Margaret Atwood's . Ed. Harold Bloom. Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 2004.

Caminero-Santangelo, Marta. "Puerto Rican Negro: Defining Race in Piri Thomas's Down These Mean Streets." MELUS (Multi-Ethnic Literature of the U.S.) 29.2 (Summer 2004): 205-226.

Caminero-Santangelo, Marta. "Jasón's Indian: Mexican Americans and the Denial of Indigenous Ethnicity in Anaya's Bless Me, Ultima." Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction 45.2 (Winter 2004): 115-128.

Caminero-Santangelo, Marta. "Contesting the Boundaries of 'Exile' Latino/a Literature." Twayne Companion to Contemporary World Literature. Ed. Pamela A. Genova. New York, NY: Twayne; Thomson Gale, 2003. 825-834.

Caminero-Santangelo, Marta. "Margarita Engle, Cuban American Conservatism, and the Construction of (Left) U.S. Latino/a Ethnicity." Lit: Literature / Interpretation / Theory 13.4 (Oct./Dec. 2002): 249-267.

Caminero-Santangelo, Marta. "Contesting the Boundaries of 'Exile' Latino/a Literature." World Literature Today 74.3 (Summer 2000): 507-517.

Caminero-Santangelo, Marta. "Beyond Otherness: Negotiated Identities and Viramontes's The Cariboo Cafe." Women on the Edge: Ethnicity and Gender in Short Stories by American Women. Ed. Corinne Dale, Ed. J.H.E. Paine. New York: Garland Publishing, 1998. 19-33.

Caminero-Santangelo, Marta. The Madwoman Can't Speak: Or Why Insanity Is Not Subversive. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1998. 195 p.

Caminero-Santangelo, Marta, and Roy Boland. "Cultural Collisions and Cultural Crossings: Psychic Borderlands in the Works of Julia Alvarez, Manlio Argueta and Alfredo Conde." Introduction to Antípodas: Journal of Hispanic and Galician Studies 10 (1998): 9-11.

Caminero-Santangelo, Marta. "Speaking for Others: Problems of Representation in the Novels of Julia Alvarez." Antípodas: Journal of Hispanic and Galician Studies 10 (1998): 53-66.

Caminero-Santangelo, Marta, Boland, Roy (Ed.). "Cultural Collisions and Cultural Crossings: Psychic Borderlands in the Works of Julia Alvarez, Manlio Argueta, and Alfredo Conde." Spec. issue of Antípodas: Journal of Hispanic and Galician Studies 10 (1998).

Caminero-Santangelo, Marta. "Beyond Otherness: Negotiated Identities and Viramontes's The Cariboo Cafe ." Journal of the Short Story in English (Fall 1996): 29-42.

Caminero-Santangelo, Marta. "Multiple Personality and the Postmodern Subject: Theorizing Agency." Lit: Literature / Interpretation / Theory 7 (Apr. 1996): 63-86.

Caminero-Santangelo, Marta. "The Madwoman Can't Speak: Post-War Culture, Feminist Criticism, and Welty's June Recital." Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature 15.1 (Spring 1996): 123-146.

  • Listen to Margaret Kelley discuss it's not just fear of violence or belief in the second amendment and gun rights prompting gun ownership.  On this episode of WhenExpertsAttack she explains that concerns about Armageddon and "supernatural" evil also are at play.  
  • Congratulations to Bobby Cervantes for being awarded the Harry Middleton Fellowship in Presidential Studies!
  • Read about Afro-Puerto Rican illustrator Eric Velasquez in this piece written by William García-Medina for Teaching For Change.
  • Geoffrey Newman did a podcast for the journal Kansas History that was broadcast on 91.9 KSDB-FM.  It is available online here.
  • Congratulations to Sam Steuart for being named KU's 20th Truman scholar!
  • This article, written by Geoffrey Newman, was published in the August edition of the Kansas History Journal. Congratulations Geoffrey!
  • Congratulations to Ph.D. candidate Kathryn Vaggalis for being awarded the American Studies Association's 2018 Gene Wise-Warren Susman Prize!
  • KU-AUMI InterArts was recently featured by the Commons in a video on improving inclusive communities at KU. You can watch the video, which features our own Sherrie Tucker amongst other founders of the movement at KU, and learn more about AUMI here!
  • Congratulations to Professor Robert Warrior on being elected to a member of the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
  • This articlewritten by Ph.D. candidate Hannah Bailey, was published in the latest edition of Soundings: An Interdisciplinary Journal. Congratulations, Hannah!
  • We would like to recognize Patrick Sumner, 2005 alumni, for his work in this article about the defacement of the John Brown memorial in the Quindaro area of Kansas City, Kansas.
  • Please read this article about Professor Robert Warrior titled: Native scholar uncomfortably at home in American studies field.
  • Congratulations to Daniel Carey-Whalen, an alumni that was recently promoted as UTEP's Centennial Museum director.
  • Congratulations to Josh Parshall, an alumni who was recently featured in this article.
  • How a motion-tracking musical software is breaking down barriers for people with disabilities: click here to read more about the Adaptive Use Musical Instrument (AUMI), a one-of-a-kind piece of inclusive technology that promotes musical improvisation. The article recognizes Professor Sherrie Tucker, who started AUMI jam sessions and helped to bring the grant and symposium for it to Lawrence. Written by Omar Sanchez
  • KU Special Education Department: With Ray Pence
  • Tribute Or Tribulation? How do we commemorate history? What is the best way to remember a conflicted and painful past? And who gets to decide? Listen here »
Upcoming Events
Hall Center Humanities Lecture Series

A forum for interdisciplinary dialogue between renowned speakers, the university and the surrounding communities.
Schedule of Lectures


One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
5th nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets: Colleges," Military Times
Follow us:

Twitter Facebook


Far Above - The Campaign for KansasGive to American Studies

KU Today