Skip to main content

Dr. Luisa Elena Delgado

Profile picture for Dr. Luisa Elena Delgado

Contact Information

School of Literatures, Cultures, Linguistics.
4080 Literatures, Cultures & Linguistics Building
707 S Mathews. Urbana, Illinois University of Illinois (Urbana) Ill 61801
Professor Emerita


I was born in Caracas, Venezuela,  the granddaughter of Spanish exiles and daughter of immigrants. I was raised in Spain since I was six. I moved to California to do my PhD.and I have lived in the United States since then. 

From 2013-15 I lived in Barcelona, where I was the resident director of the University of Illinois-University of California Education Abroad Program.


Research Interests

Modern and Contemporary Spanish Literature and Cultural Studies. Cultural Construction of Identities. Ideology and Culture.  Emotions and affects in literature and culture.

Research Description

My research covers the literary and cultural production of Spain from the 19th century to the present. I situate literature and other cultural manifestations in relation to responses to, and proposals for, historical change, as well as in relation to changing social formations and experiences. I am particularly known for my scholarship on the nineteenth century Spanish novel, the cultural construction of Spanish identity, the ideological configuration of Spanish nationalism in the democratic period, the relationship between politics and culture, and the role of affect and emotion in the public sphere.  Among my recent publications, we could highlight La nación singular: Fantasías de la normalidad democrática Española [A Singular Nation,Fantasies of Democratic Normalcy in Spain, 2014) a monograph on the cultural construction of the Spanish national imaginary in the democratic period, which was a finalist for the National Book Award in Spain in the category of essay [2015]. My other area of research now is the study of emotions and affects in the public sphere, and the relationship between politics and collective emotions. Part of that research is included in the co-edited volume (with Pura Fernandez and Jo Labanyi) Engaging the Emotions in Spanish Culture and History (Vanderbilt University Press, 2016). An updated version appeared in Spanish in 2018 (Las emociones en la cultura y la cultura de las emociones, Catedra). Along those lines, I am now working on how emotional and political attachments intersect and function in narratives of citizenship at moments of crisis: the movement of the Outraged in Spain (2011- 2015), the independence referenda in Scotland and Catalonia (2014, 2017); the peace agreement referendum in Colombia (2016); and the international feminist demonstrations against inequality and abuse (2017- present). My premise is that the study of dysphoric affects and their mobilization in the public sphere has important consequences for the understanding of our current political and cultural moment, in particular in relation to questions of national identity, collectivity and agency. 

I have just finished  the first cultural history of modern literatures in Spain (Polity 2022) co-authored with Jo Labanyi and with contributors Helena Buffery, Kirsty Hooper and Mari Jose Olaziregi. The book showcases the country's cultural complexity by working across its four major literary cultures - Castilian, Catalan, Galician and Basque - from the eighteenth century to the present.

Last, but certainly not least, I am interested in the connections between academic research and public life, as well as in the debates and practices that define democratic citizenship.



Ph.D University of California, Santa Barbara
University of Madrid (Complutense) B.A and M.A


2007 Program for Cultural Cooperation between Spanish Ministry of Culture and North American Universities
2009 Centre for Scientific Research (CSIC- Spain).
2009 Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation
2017-20 Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS, France)

Awards and Honors

2018 University Scholar

2017-19 Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory Senior Fellow

2016-17 Illinois Research Institute Fellow.

2015 Honorable Mention, Best Research in the Humanities, Illinois Research Institute (for "The Sound and the Red Fury", Journal of Spanish Cultural Studies)

2015 Finalist, Premio Nacional de Ensayo (National Literature Award, Essay). Spain's Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport.

2010-11 Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory Nicholson Fellow.

2009-2010 Humanities Council Teaching Excellence Award. (University of Illinois).


Courses Taught

Intro to Cultural Analysis (Sp 254)
Debating Spain (Sp320)
"Alienated Hearts. Affects, Subjectivities and Identities in Modern Spanish Culture"  (Graduate course)

"Emotional risks: Moving readings and Hierarchies of Taste" (Graduate course)

Additional Campus Affiliations

Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory

Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies

European Union Center

Gender and Women's Studies

Highlighted Publications

Luisa Elena Delgado and Jo Labanyi. Cultural History of Modern Literatures in Spain. Co-authored with Jo Labanyi. With the collaboration of Kirsty Hooper, Helena Buffery and Mari Jose Olaziregui. Polity Press (2022).

La cultura de las emociones y las emociones de la cultura (siglos XVIII-XXI).  Madrid: Cátedra (2018).  L. Elena Delgado, Pura Fernández, Jo Labanyi (eds). [Translation and Updated edition of Engaging the Emotions in Spanish Culture and History].

Engaging the Emotions in Spanish Culture and History (from the Enlightment to the Present). L. Elena Delgado, Pura Fernández and Jo Labanyi (eds).  Vanderbilt UP, 2016.


La nación singular. Las fantasías de la normalidad democrática española (1996-2011). Siglo XXI Editores, 2014)

La imagen elusiva: lenguaje y representación en la narrativa de Galdós. [The Elusive Image: Language and Representation in the Narrative of B.P. Galdós.] Amsterdam/Atlanta: Rodopi, 2000.



Recent Publications

Luisa Elena Delgado and Jo Labanyi. Cultural History of Modern Literatures in Spain. Co-authored with Jo Labanyi. With the collaboration of Kirsty Hooper, Helena Buffery and Mari Jose Olaziregui. Polity Press (2022)


“Sobre el nacionalismo banal” in Josep Ramoneda (ed): Cataluña y España: ¿qué nos ha pasado?. Barcelona, Galaxia Gutenberg, 2019.

"Accounting for Democracy: Excessive Subjects in a State of Consensus” Boundary 2. 48.2 (in press).

“Populistas, Nacionalistas, Feministas y el exceso de la democracia”. Arizona Journal of Hispanic Cultural Studies 21 (2017): 263-28