Noël Valis, expert in Spanish literature, wins Victoria Urbano Award

Phot of professor Noël Valis
Noël Valis

Noël Valis, professor of Spanish in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, has won the Victoria Urbano Academic Achievement Award (Premio Victoria Urbano de Reconocimiento Académico), given by the International Association of Hispanic Women’s Literature and Culture (Asociación Internacional de Literatura y Cultura Femenina Hispánica), for her work in Hispanic women’s and gender studies.

Valis began her research in this field in the 1980s, at the time a fledgling area within Hispanic studies. She co-edited (with Carol Maier) what was to become an influential and widely cited book in Hispanism, “In the Feminine Mode: Essays on Hispanic Women Writers.” She has also rediscovered forgotten or neglected 19th-century Spanish women writers and promoted Hispanic women authors through editorial work, essays, and translation, such as Noni Benegas’s “Burning Cartography,” which won the Best Book Translation Prize from the New England Council of Latin American Studies.

Among Valis’ publications are “Sacred Realism: Religion and the Imagination in Modern Spanish Narrative” and the edited volume “Teaching Representations of the Spanish Civil War.” Her book “The Culture of Cursilería: Bad Taste, Kitsch, and Class in Modern Spain” won the Modern Language Association’s Katherine Singer Kovacs Prize, given for an outstanding book published in English in the field of Latin American and Spanish literatures and cultures. Her novella “The Labor of Longing” was a finalist for the Prize Americana for Prose and a Finalist in two categories (Novella and Regional Fiction) for the Next Generation Indie Book Award. Most recently, she co-translated “Two Confessions: Essays by María Zambrano and Rosa Chacel,” and edited Pedro Badanelli’s “Serenata del amor triunfante,” a rediscovered Spanish gay novel from 1929.

Valis has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. In March she was inducted into the North American Academy of the Spanish Language (Academia Norteamericana de la Lengua Española) as a full member and into the Royal Spanish Academy (Real Academia Española) as a corresponding member.

The Victoria Urbano Academic Achievement Prize was created in honor of the Costa Rican author, poet and university professor Victoria Urbano, winner of the León Felipe Prize and founder of the International Association of Hispanic Women’s Literature and Culture in 1974. The association was established for the purpose of advancing the study of women- and gender-related topics in Hispanic literature and promoting the work of Hispanic women writers. Valis’s prize will be presented at the association’s annual meeting in November.

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