Eleven Hispanic scholars from universities around the country were honored yesterday at a luncheon in the Capitol given by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Each received an award for "Hispanic Scholarship in the Humanities in America".

The event, which Endowment chairman Joseph Duffey called "unprecedented," was a co-sponsored by Rep. Edward R. Roybal (D-Calif.). Among the guest were: Rep. John Brademas (D-Ind.); presidential assistant Estaban Torres, the highest-ranking Hispanic-American in the Carter adminstration; Dr. Javier Malagon, cultural attache to the Embassy of Spain, and Henry Raymont, director of cultural affairs for the Organization of American States.

"Last year we didn't have much to show by way of responsiveness to the Hispanic community," said Duffy. "We've made a start this year -- we've involved more Hispanics in the review process for grants. It's a modest start."

Duffey said that for the past two years the Endowment staff has traveled around the country to encourage Hispanics to apply for grants. In fiscal 1979, $1.7 million in grants went to Hispanic humanists, whereas in the previous year Duffey estimated the total at less than $500,000.

"We just didn't have the applications," he said.

"Perceptions of Hispanic culture have matured in the U.S.," said Americo Paredes from the University of Texas, an award-winner and a keynote speaker at the lunch. "But it may be too early to congratulate ourselves."

Others honored at the luncheon were: Fernando Alegria (Stanford); Carlos Blanco Aguinaga (the University of California); Jose Juan Arrom (Yale); Maria Teresa Babin (City University of New York); Lidia Cabrera; Arturo Morales Carrion; Ruben Cobos (University of New Mexico); Ernesto Galarza; Louise Ano Neuvo Kerr (Loyola); Juan Marichal (Harvard), and Julian Samora (Notre Dame).