Biography Writing Teaching Appearances  

Amelia M.L. Montes studies Chicana and Latina literature and theory, late nineteenth century and contemporary American literatures, and Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans literatures. She also writes fiction, non-fiction, and poetry.

In her scholarly work, Montes is interested in narrative contexts that complicate and contradict national, social, and personal identities: how our own complex relationships to power cross ethnic, gender, sexual, and racial borderlines. Hemispheric or transnational studies are terms that describe such explorations. Her geographic focus encompasses North America and Latin America.

Montes' most significant scholarly work to date has focused on the study of nineteenth-century Mexican American writer, María Amparo Ruiz de Burton (1832-1895). She has published several articles in national and international journals and essay collections on Ruiz de Burton. Ruiz de Burton writes from a Mexican American perspective in English. She was aware that her audience was primarily Anglo American. This makes the body of her work a fascinating and complex study. Ruiz de Burton sought to contribute to nineteenth-century public conversations about different kinds of power and she was consciously trying to contribute to the understanding of power she recognized. Equally interesting is how Ruiz de Burton reveals (unwittingly) her own complicity within power relations. Montes posits that Ruiz de Burton's writings mirror our own negotiations of power in the twenty-first century. In all literatures and public discourse, says Montes, we cannot think or imagine ourselves out of being implicated in power.

Montes' first book, a co-edited collection entitled, María Amparo Ruiz de Burton: Critical and Pedagogical Perspectives (2004), brings together vibrant scholars who are currently writing and teaching Ruiz de Burton in order to enter into interdisciplinary discussions within a nineteenth-, twentieth-, and twenty-first century American literary and Cultural Studies context. The volume represents scholars who are living in various regions of the United States and who teach in English departments, Ethnic Studies Programs, Mexican-American Studies Research Centers, Women's Studies Programs, History departments, and American Studies departments.

In 2009, Montes edited and introduced a new edition of Ruiz de Burton's first novel, Who Would Have Thought It? for Penguin Classics. In this edition, Montes also includes eight personal and professional letters Ruiz de Burton wrote at the time she was writing her novel. In these letters, Ruiz de Burton discusses the drafting and marketing of her novel. Other subjects regarding a woman's place in society, California and Washington D.C. politics, the Civil War, are also important topics. This Penguin edition now places Ruiz de Burton (and broadly, early Latina writing) within the canonical traditions of American literature.

Ruiz de Burton, whose body of work focused geographically on the west and east coasts of the country, died in the middle: Chicago. Montes finds it meaningful that she is now concentrating her work in the Great Plains and Midwest where Ruiz de Burton finished hers. Montes is currently at work on a book that focuses on contemporary Latinas and Chicanas in the Midwest entitled, Corazon y Tierra: Latinas Writing on the Great Plains and Midwest. In 2003, she published an article in The Journal of Lesbian Studies which investigated Latina and Chicana lesbian writing and art in the Midwest. This work continues the earlier work of recovering texts and deepening our body of Latina/o and Chicana/o literary traditions, this time focusing on contemporary writers and artists who are emerging or have emerged from the middle of the country. They are writers and artists whose families emigrated to places such as Omaha, Milwaukee, Chicago, or Kansas since 1848. Also included are the southern Great Plains of Texas.

In the area of fiction writing, Montes has published a number of short stories in journals and collections such as River City Journal, Saguaro, Elixir, Hers3. She is currently working on a fictional memoir entitled The Diabetes Chronicles.

Montes has been an active member of The Modern Language Association (MLA), serving first on the MLA Chicana and Chicano Discussion Group (2001). She was the primary author/researcher of the proposal to request MLA Divisional Status for the MLA Chicana and Chicano Discussion Group (2001). After the request was approved, Montes served as Chair of the MLA Division on Chicana and Chicano Literature and as a member of the Delegate Assembly. Currently, she is serving as a member of the MLA Executive Committee on Women’s Studies in Language and Literature. Montes is also an active member of The Society for the Study of Gloria Anzaldúa (SSGA) and The National Association of Chicana And Chicano Studies (NACCS). In the area of creative writing, Montes is a member of PEN West and also a member of Macondo, a writing group founded by author Sandra Cisneros.

Montes was born in Los Angeles, California. At the time, her parents were recent immigrants from Mexico and she spent her childhood living on both sides of the border. From Los Angeles to Tijuana, Hermosillo, Sonora, Coahuila, Jalisco, and back. Because her parents created a traditionally Mexican home in Los Angeles, Montes has often noted that leaving her house to walk to her elementary school and later high school was like leaving Mexico and going to the U.S. every day. Perhaps that is why as an undergraduate student at Loyola Marymount University, she double-majored in English and Spanish—always straddling both cultures, both languages, both histories. After receiving her B.A., she taught high school at various schools in the Los Angeles area (Edison Jr. High in South Central L.A., Hawthorne High School, El Segundo High, and Redondo Union High). She earned an M.Ed. from Azusa Pacific University during this time. In the early 1990s, Montes moved to Denver, Colorado to begin graduate work in English.

Montes received an M.A. in creative writing (1994) and a Ph.D in American literature (1999) at The University of Denver. In 2000, Montes joined the faculty at The University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL).

In 2004, she was a visiting scholar at The University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). She is currently an associate professor at UNL with a joint appointment in English and Ethnic Studies. She also serves as Director of The Institute for Ethnic Studies. Montes has received numerous teaching awards. During her tenure as a high school teacher in California, she was awarded the South Bay Teacher of the Year Award. In 2004, UIUC awarded and appointed Montes to the UIUC List of Excellent Instructors. In 2005, she was awarded The University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Teaching Award and the Beta Theta Pi Recognition for Outstanding Efforts in Education.

Montes lives in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Download her CV here.