Luis Leal

National Humanities Medal


In his fifty-four-year career as professor, scholar, and writer, Luis Leal has added much to our understanding of Mexico, Latin America, and the Chicano experience in the United States. The author of sixteen books, his research and writings have been widely praised. His works include A Brief History of the Mexican Short Story, Decade of Chicano Literature, 1970-1979: Critical Essays and Bibliography, and No Longer Voiceless.

In 1988, Leal received the Distinguished Scholarly Award of the National Association for Chicano Studies; in 1992 he was awarded the Mexican Order of the Aztec Eagle, the Mexican government's highest honor granted to a foreign citizen. The University of California, Santa Barbara, where Leal has taught since 1976, established the Luis Leal Endowed Chair in Chicano Studies in 1995, the first position of its kind in the nation.

Leal was born in 1907 in Linares, Mexico, and attended Northwestern University and the University of Chicago, where he held a teaching position. During his career he has also taught Spanish and modern languages at the University of Mississippi, Emory University, and the University of Illinois.

By Maggie Riechers

About the National Humanities Medal

The National Humanities Medal, inaugurated in 1997, honors individuals or groups whose work has deepened the nation's understanding of the humanities and broadened our citizens' engagement with history, literature, languages, philosophy, and other humanities subjects. Up to 12 medals can be awarded each year.