The implementation of a student centered approach that fosters critical thought and writing is essential to my overall approach to teaching. I truly enjoy the intellectual stimulation I receive from learning together with my students, and this is the reason why in my teaching practice I constantly strive to create a fruitful and enriching space for lively dialogue. I find that this requires that students be aware of the learning process, of the potential and limitations of their own unique approach, and of the value of negotiating with other students’ approaches and perspectives on the same topic. When students in my classes succeed as individuals and at the same time become part of a community that expands to acknowledge and embrace the world beyond the classroom walls, I am convinced that a successful teaching experience has occurred. Alongside the use of electronic media, in my classes I also ask students to engage in creative writing and translation exercises that help them approach the texts discussed from fresher perspectives.
EMBODIED POLITICS IN CONTEMPORARY LATIN AMERICA: Race, Gender, Sex, and Performance
This seminar engages critical race studies, feminist and queer theory, and performance studies to examine how contemporary Latin/o American performance addresses and interrogates the racialization and sexualization of bodies. Inspired by the distinction drawn by Diana Taylor between the archive and the repertoire (2003), the class critically dialogues with a varied repertoire of embodied practices that grapple with the tensions between socially inscribed corporeal regulation and the imaginative and political possibilities of the performative. The different performance artists and activists whose work is discussed—including, among others, Cuban-American Ana Mendieta, Guatemalan Regina José Galindo, Mexican Jesusa Rodríguez, Argentinean Naty Menstrual—explore gender, sex, race, and class as these intersect with issues of migration, colonialism, globalization, and environmental politics. This course provides students with a historical and theoretical framework to understand these issues in the context of key socio-political junctures in Latin/o America. Special focus is given to how performance has staged resistance against acts of violence against women, particularly in light of the current alarming numbers of femicides and travesticides traversing the region.
LAIS 476: CHRONICLING LATIN AMERICA
This upper-level seminar explores the intersections between journalism and literature through the reading and analysis of crónicas, a very popular genre in Latin America since the end of the nineteenth century. Discussion, readings, and assignments focus on: 1) the chronicle as a flexible genre and an opportunity for writers to become cultural, literary, social and political critics; 2) the chronicle as a privileged site for the analysis of the social, political, and historical context and its connection with fields of cultural production. Assigned readings trace the trajectory of chronicle-writing from the second half of the nineteenth century up to the present, incorporate discussion of the path followed by the chronicle in Brazil, examine the influence on Latin America of New Journalism and Gonzo Journalism, and ponder the impact of blogs--crónicas’ most recent incarnation. Alongside various reading and writing assignments, students keep a semester-long blog where they examine one of the many online publications dedicated to the genre of chronicle-writing, and later become cronistas themselves on a general topic of interest to them. Writers may include Rubén Darió, José Martí, Manuel Gutiérrez Nájera, Alfonsina Storni, Roberto Arlt, Salvador Novo, Alejo Carpentier, Elena Poniatowska, Carlos Monsiváis, and Pedro Lemebel, among others.
LAIS 475: WOMEN AND WRITING IN LATIN AMERICA – Women (re)Read and (re)Write Latin American Cultural History
This seminar focuses on specific socio-historical and political junctures within Latin/o American history to examine women as political and cultural agents who have intervened throughout Latin/o American cultural history, re-writing it to account for erased or marginalized subjectivities. In so doing, this course aims to reconfigure the Latin/o American archive through the inclusion of names and works long forgotten, neglected or misread, while it enables an examination of key concepts like indigenism, neoliberalism, globalization, post/neo/decoloniality, nation & nationalisms, subalternity, hybridization, the queer and the wild. Artists and writers may include Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda, Clorinda Matto de Turner, Rosario Castellanos, Carmen Berenguer, María Moreno, Ena Lucía Portela, Rita Indiana Hernández, Regina José Galindo.
LAIS 475: WOMEN AND WRITING IN LATIN AMERICA – Authorship, Authority, and Self-Representation in Women’s Autobiography
This is a seminar centered around the examination of questions of agency, memory, experience, identity, and their intersection with gender, social class, ethnicity, race, etc., in autobiographical texts by Latina/Latin-American women writers. At the same time, this course also aims to interrogate canonical and traditional definitions of the autobiographical genre, opening up the discussion to alternative ways of narrating one’s life. To this end, throughout the semester, alongside thinking and writing analytically, students are asked to engage in short, spontaneous, creative autobiographical writing assignments designed for them to explore different concepts and ideas examined in the texts being discussed. Writers discussed include Claribel Alegría, Gioconda Belli, Rosario Castellanos, Carolina Maria de Jesus, and Rigoberta Menchú, among others.
LAIS 452: LATIN AMERICAN POETIC TEXTS – Women’s Poetry, Identity, and Memory in the Southern Cone.
This seminar examines contemporary women’s poetry from the Southern Cone, particularly Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay, with the aim of exploring and interrogating issues of memory, identity, belonging, and exile—both internal and external—as these affect and intersect with gender as a social construct. On the one hand, attention will be paid to the space of the poem, and, on the other, to configurations of space within the poems, to the space of the house, of the city and of landscape as these shape and are in turned shaped by the poetic speaker. Some of the poets studied are Cristina Peri Rossi, Elvira Hernández, Diana Bellessi, Lila Zemborain, and Alicia Genovese. In the Fall 0f 2012, this seminar featured the two-week visit of Dr. Alicia N. Salomone, Chair of the Literature Department at Universidad de Chile, who co-taught the seminar during her stay, a Bilingual Poetry Reading and Conversation with poet Lila Zemborain, and a Skype Interview with poet Alicia Genovese. It is my intention to afford students the opportunity to interact with practicing writers and active scholars each time this course is offered.
LAIS 332: INTRODUCTION TO LATIN AMERICAN LITERATURE II
This is a course that introduces students to some of the most important authors, literary movements and cultural transformations in Latin America from Modernism at the end of the nineteenth century up to the present. Students are exposed to visual art from various countries alongside representative poetry, essay, drama, and fiction, in order to grasp the cultural and intellectual diversity shaping Latin America. This class also provides students with the critical tools necessary to interpret and analyze literary texts and to engage in critical and analytical discussion of these texts in class.
LAIS 309-385: SPANISH WRITING WORKSHOP
The Spanish Writing Workshop focuses on improving students’ writing skills in a variety of genres so that they are better equipped to tackle different writing assignments in upper-level seminars in the Department of Latin American, Latino, and Iberian Studies. After a significant curricular change in the Department, the class went from being an elective to fulfilling the function of a gateway course to guarantee students’ better performance in upper-level courses. Consequently, for many of the students now taking the Spanish Writing Workshop, LAIS 309 is their first exposure to the LALIS curriculum. Whereas LAIS 385 helped polish writing skills for students that felt that specific need, LAIS 309 is designed to introduce all students to the basics of different types of writing that they need to master for other classes in LALIS. Class discussion revolves mostly around students’ own writing, strategies to improve their writing, and peer-editing. Formal and structured writing assignments are complimented by regular, spontaneous, free writing in class, alongside analysis of texts that can serve as models to emulate. Exercises on grammar, vocabulary, spelling, and punctuation are also incorporated into class discussion and lecture on a regular basis to help further improve students’ writing skills in Spanish.
LAIS 305: SPANISH IN POLITICS AND SOCIETY
This course aims to improve students' knowledge and use of the Spanish language through the discussion of current and relevant social and political issues in different Latin American countries. With this aim in mind, students are asked to read newspaper articles, online publications, and blogs in the target language, as well as watch and formally present to the class on shorts and films related to the issues discussed. Since this is a course meant to prepare students for more advanced courses in the Department of Latin American and Iberian Studies at the University of Richmond, grammar discussion and practice forms an integral part of class discussions.
LAIS 302: SPANISH THROUGH LITERATURE
This is a course aimed at improving students’ oral and written communication skills by reading and responding meaningfully and critically to literary texts in various genres, alongside shorts and films complementing the texts discussed. The main goal of this course is to leave students fully prepared for more advanced courses in the Department of Latin American and Iberian Studies at the University of Richmond. To this end, extensive review of grammar and vocabulary, alongside discussion and writing assignments carried out individually, in pairs, and in groups, are meant to improve students’ performance and foster their self-confidence in the language.
FIRST-YEAR SEMINAR: Women's Autobiographies as Acts of Narrative Resistance
This course focuses on a cross-cultural analysis of texts from a diverse array of ethnic, national, cultural, and linguistic backgrounds that share the common aim of narratively resisting and overcoming different acts of oppression and abuse. Students research and discuss the socio-cultural and economic factors behind these acts, and closely examine the intersections of gender, race, class, and ethnicity in the texts analyzed. As students engage in exploring autobiographical writing through individual and group projects both inside and outside the classroom, autobiography is problematized as a genre whose boundaries have become more fluid in recent decades. Texts discussed include Edwige Danticat's Brother, I'm Dying, Carolina Maria de Jesus's Child of the Dark, Assia Djebar's Fantasia, Jamaica Kincaid's The Autobiography of My Mother, Joy Kogawa's Obasan, Anchee Min's Red Azalea, and Leslie Marmon Silko's The Turquoise Ledge.