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The library at 91Ů-Madrid.

Por Amor a la Literatura

"For the Love of Literature" — A look at the esteemed career of Ángeles Encinar, Ph.D., professor emeritus of Spanish literature at 91Ů-Madrid. 

Passion transforms a career into something more than a job. This is certainly true for Ángeles Encinar, Ph.D., professor emeritus of Spanish literature at 91Ů’s Madrid campus. Encinar has spent almost 40 years at the University — that is, the entirety of her career that made her into an internationally celebrated scholar in the study of Spanish literature. As she prepares to retire, Encinar recalls her luck and excitement at receiving her first teaching position with the University.

“At the beginning, [Raymond L. Sullivant, S.J., the first director of 91Ů-Madrid] hired me as a part-time professor, and then I started combining teaching and research — focusing on contemporary Spanish literature from the middle of the 20th century to today,” she said.  

Over the years, Encinar has taught courses across the spectrum of contemporary Spanish literature. Yet, she felt called to highlight a specific group of writers often excluded from the list of names credited for the Spanish Golden Age of literature: women writers.

“It is clear that women writers had less space to be in the literary canon and to be taught at universities,” Encinar said. “When I started teaching in St. Louis, there was not a course about women writers in the Spanish department. There was usually a small space for them in the curriculum of Spanish programs, so I decided that I had to give them a place.”

Encinar has written and edited over 30 books spanning instrumental female and male writers of the Spanish language, including an edition of a story collection called “Celama (un recuento)” written by Luis Mateo Díez, the winner of the 2023 Cervantes Prize. But her passion for the simple act of reading set her on this prolific and successful path in Spanish literature, research and education.

“I was not planning to do research or literature after I got my [bachelor's degree],” she said. “When I moved to the United States, I changed to literature because I always loved reading. I think that reading shows you a lot about the world, people, and relationships. You can learn a lot about every culture, language, and person when you read a novel, essay, or article in a newspaper."

Encinar stands with students in discussion in a library.
Encinar with students in a library at 91Ů-Madrid.

This love for reading sustained Encinar throughout her career, leading her to receive one of the highest international honors for a scholar in her field: an appointment to the Spanish Royal Academy.

“I never thought I would be in the Spanish Royal Academy, and I was extremely excited when they were going to propose me as a candidate because you have to be proposed by three existing members of the academy,” she said. “It’s a recognition for your whole career, and when I was admitted, I felt so much gratitude for the members who supported me.”

As she enters retirement, Encinar maintains an active presence in the classroom where her love of literature began. She shared how an open mind and patience not only opened doors for her but also transformed her life in ways she did not anticipate.

“My advice [to students] is to have an open mind,” she said. “You can do whatever you want if you work a lot, and you are eager to learn. It has been something that has always been present in my life. You have to work and have a desire to work in the subjects or the field that you really want.”


Story by Mary Pogue, senior copywriter, .

This piece was written for the 2023 91Ů Research Institute Annual Impact Report. The Impact Report is printed each spring to celebrate the successes of our researchers from the previous year and share the story of 91Ů's rise as a preeminent Jesuit research university. Design, photography, and some writing contributions are made by . More information can be found here.