He served three years in the U.S. Army before being discharged in 1949. Following a year at Southmost College in Brownsville, Texas, he transferred to the University of Texas and graduated in 1953 with a bachelor’s degree in English.
He worked as a laborer at a chemical plant, a high school teacher, an office manager and a civil servant before earning a master’s degree at New Mexico Highlands University in Las Vegas, N.M., in 1962 and a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, in 1969. His dissertation compared Spanish and Portuguese literature.
In addition to English, Spanish and Portuguese, Dr. Hinojosa-Smith spoke German, which he taught himself before he traveled to Germany to deliver lectures.
Before he joined the faculty at the University of Texas, he taught at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas A&I University in Kingsville and the University of Minnesota.
In addition to his daughter Clarissa, Dr. Hinojosa-Smith is survived by another daughter, Karen Hinojosa (both daughters are from his second marriage, to Patricia Sorensen, who died in 1999); a son, Bob Huddleston, from his first marriage, to Lilia Saenz, which ended in divorce; and two grandsons.
Dr. Hinojosa-Smith, who was also a prolific essayist and wrote police procedurals, was published by small presses like Arte Público, whose director, Nicolás Kanellos, said in a statement after Dr. Hinojosa-Smith’s death that he was “a surveyor of the human scene, always keen to recognize the humor, irony and just plain outrageousness of people, especially as political animals.”
Referring to himself as a man of two cultures who had no desire to deny either one, Dr. Hinojosa-Smith told the Texas Library Association that his hundreds of characters — fools, knaves, heroes and cowards among them — reside “in a place called Belken County, of which I’m the sole owner and proprietor, as Faulkner once said, when he spoke of his county.”