Carnegie Mellon University

Kenya C. Dworkin y Méndez

Kenya C. Dworkin y Méndez

Associate Professor of Hispanic Studies with a Courtesy Appointment in English

Department of Modern Languages
Carnegie Mellon University
Baker Hall 160
Pittsburgh, PA 15213


Since I joined the Department of Modern Languages in Fall, 1993, I have designed numerous courses for the undergraduate curriculum in Hispanic Studies, and taught at all of the program’s levels. My goal with most of the curriculum I have designed and implemented has been to engage students with varying disciplinary interests in interdisciplinary content courses that encourage them to explore and analyze different cultures, histories and issues in the Spanish-speaking world and developed the four linguistic skill areas—speaking, listening, reading and writing—in their target language. I am also committed to promoting and facilitating language acquisition among the students, so they are able to engage in critical reading, thinking and writing in Spanish. On occasion, I offer topics courses with extra sections taught in English, so students in Global Studies, International Relations and Politics, English and History can enroll. I am the department’s Hispanic Studies major advisor, and the program’s Coordinator, and frequently supervise Independent Studies and Senior Honor’s theses. I also occasionally offer service-learning courses so our majors and minors can engage in community-based research and service learning projects involving a topic in Hispanic Studies. In 2010, I was awarded the Mark Gelfand Service Award for Educational Outreach at CMU for my work on campus and in the community with my students.

While I started out as a specialist in Latin American and Hispanic Caribbean literature, history and culture (with a focus on Cuban literature and history), I subsequently expanded the scope of my research to include Spanish-language, U.S. Latino literature and culture, and Sephardic Studies as well.A unifying, core theme that ties all these areas together is the issue of identity construction— an analysis of what extra-national, national, racial, ethnic, religious and linguistic elements are employed to establish or deny a particular identity—and how and why it evolves. Interdisciplinarity, and essential concepts such as transnationalism and Diaspora, are key to my work because they allow me to draw from a multitude of texts (e.g., literary, theatrical, political, historical, journalistic, popular, visual, musical) to examine, write and teach about this phenomenon. This is equally evident in my work on Cuban and Cuban immigrant literature and theatre, New York Sephardic and Puerto Rican history and culture, and Latin American Jewish literature and film.

Disciplinarily, I am committed to the integration of Spanish-language, U.S. Latino and Hispanic Jewish studies into the mainstream of Spanish-language, literary and cultural studies. To this end, I have also begun to read Spanish-language, Maghrebi and West African Guinean texts, to further explore the worldwide impact of Spanish language and cultures on Hispanic identities in the U.S. and around the globe, historically and in the twenty-first century.


Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, 1994

Recent Publications

  • Language and Empire: Spanish in Multilingual and Multicultural Contexts. Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University Press, 2007.
  • En otra voz: antología histórica de la literatura hispana en los Estados Unidos. Houston: Arte Público Press, 2002.
  • Herencia: A Historical Anthology of U. S. Hispanic Literature.  Oxford University Press, 2001.

Department Member Since