Puerto Rican Literary Scholar to Head UB American Studies Department

Release Date: July 16, 1991 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Alfredo Matilla Rivas has been named chair of the Department of American Studies at the State University of New York at Buffalo for a three-year term effective July 7, 1991 by William R. Greiner, interim president of the university.

Matilla, a scholar in Spanish literature, currently directs the department's graduate program and its Program in Puerto Rican Studies. He has held a number of other positions in the Department of American Studies and serves on the academic committee on bilingual education in the UB Graduate School of Education.

In his new post, Matilla succeeds Michael Frisch, who will direct the UB Rockefeller Humanities Program through 1994 and will hold the newly created Fulbright Chair in American Studies at the University of Pisa in 1992.

Matilla is a former Fulbright fellow who received his doctorate magna cum laude from New York University in 1967 and has conducted humanities research in the field of Latin American literature, theater and cultural studies for more than 20 years. Before joining the UB faculty in 1972, he taught at the City University of New York, Vassar College, Goucher College, Rutgers University and Long Island University.

Matilla has written or edited 10 books, including volumes of his own original poetry, and essays, criticism, short stories and translations of work by Puerto Rican playwright Pedro Pietri, James Joyce and others.

His literary research has appeared in a number of refereed journals and his poetry and short stories have been published in anthologies and literary journals here and abroad. He has delivered many invited lectures, presented readings of his work and chaired academic conferences at more than a dozen American colleges and universities.

His recent publications include collections of writings by his father, Alfredo Matilla Jimeno, a music critic, professor in the University of Puerto Rico Conservatory of Music and founder of the Pablo Casals Music Festival. Three other books are being prepared for publication: an anthology of work by New York Puerto Rican poets; a new bilingual translation of Pietro's play, The Masses are Asses, and a selection of Pietro's theater pieces.

In 1989, Matilla organized and directed the International Congress on the Spanish Civil War and Spanish Exiles in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean held at the University of Puerto Rico, a major colloquium funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, Puerto Rican Senate, University of Puerto Rico and several international foundations.

The conference examined the experiences of Spanish Civil War exiled emigrés to the Caribbean and their relationship to the region's extant cultures. The conference proceedings and related research papers, edited by Matilla, are being prepared for publication.

Matilla has worked as an executive producer, consultant, narrator, production assistant or actor in a dozen feature or documentary films, including projects for ABC-TV and PBS. He produced Luis Rosario's multimedia play, La Movida de Victor Campolo, for the 26th Puerto Rican Theatre Festival and his own play, Preciosa, has been produced in New York City and San Juan.

Throughout his academic career Matilla, a native of Puerto Rico, has remained deeply involved in community and cultural activities in Puerto Rico and the United States. He chaired the subcommittee on education of the New York Governor's Committee on Hispanic Affairs, founded Buffalo's Latin Artists' Coalition, created and developed a lecture program in Puerto Rican literature and culture at the Attica Correctional Facility and participated as a poet in the Writer's in Education Series for the Buffalo Public Schools. He has also served on the editorial boards of Hispanic-American publications in Buffalo, New York City and Chicago and was co-founder of the National Arts Center in San Juan.

Matilla is a resident of Buffalo.

Media Contact Information

Patricia Donovan has retired from University Communications. To contact UB's media relations staff, call 716-645-6969 or visit our list of current university media contacts. Sorry for the inconvenience.