Literature, Art, and Cultural Studies Courses

My teaching interests are diverse and interdisciplinary, but primarily focus on investigating how literary and visual narratives encourage readers to envision their linguistic and socio-material experience as well as literature from different perspectives. Throughout my teaching career, I have designed language, literature, art, and cultural studies courses that reflect on that question through the study of different literary genres, settings, eras, and cultures. Diversity is paramount to my teaching, so I strive to include a plurality of voices in my selected texts.​ Below you will find descriptions of a selection of courses that I have previously taught as well as those that I am currently developing. 

Writing Diversity in America

This seminar offers an interdisciplinary study of minorities in twentieth and twentieth-first century United States. Through active readings of literary and visual narratives centering on African American, Asian American, Chicana/o, Native American, Disabled, Gay, Lesbian and Transgender subjectivities, we examine how creative uses of discourse articulate and challenge historical contexts and longstanding social inequalities. Primary readings include a selection of short stories, excerpts of novels, plays, comic performances, and autobiographical essays by Octavia Butler, W.E.B. Du Bois, Cherríe Moraga, Toni Morison, among other authors, which are complemented with critical studies on narratology, American history, Critical Race Theory, feminism, and Queer Studies. Class discussions and assignments address the narratives’ relation to social issues such as racial and ethnic discrimination, intersectionality, heteronormativity, migration, gender and ecological inequality, language rights, and the writing of history, but also explore the works’ artistic and aesthetic devices—including humor, intertextual allusions, linguistic hybridism, and the fantastic—used to convey the broad and complex experience of being a minority in the United States. 

Postmigration Studies: 

Toward the Study of Migration Heritage 

In this seminar we draw from fictional narratives, history, and politics to explore experiences of immigrants’ descendants in contemporary France, the United States, and Germany. We begin by situating global cultural productions within the context of Postmigration, a concept that emerged in the 2000s Berlin theatre scene to describe the reality of individuals who have not migrated themselves, but who have been socialized in an environment marked by migration and narratives about migration. Next, we look at literary representations of Chicana/o, Franco-Maghrebi, and Turkish-German subjects through the themes of migration, language, family, pervasive literary tropes, gender, and socio-material space. We then compare the studied works cross-culturally, paying special attention to the different cultural and sociopolitical contexts. Finally, we explore the discursive and analytical space of Postmigration as a tool for social change. Primary readings include short stories, essays, excerpts from novels, and visual and digital narratives by authors that include, among others, Mehdi Charef, Jakob Arjouni, Sandra Cisneros, Faïza Guène, Alejandro Morales, Zafer Şenocak, Selim Özdoğan, and Leïla Sebbar. 

Multicultural Arts of the U.S.

 

In this English for Arts Students course, we practice and study English by focusing on arts by American artists of color and the way their creations and artistic movements contribute to activism that interrupts systems of oppression. Indeed, in 2020 it was estimated that more than 40% of the American population belongs to an ethnoracial minority and yet their cultural contributions are often overlooked in art history, mainstream museums, and in the international reception of American art. At the turn of the 21st century, we have seen a gradual change with the development of new initiatives supporting multicultural artpractices in the U.S. as shown by the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in 2003, the Smithsonian's Latino Center in 2006, The Chinese American Museum DC in 2017, among other institutions that continue the mission of pioneering art centers such as the Studio Museum in Harlem, The National Center of Afro-American Artists, El Museo del Barrio, The Mexican Museum, or the National Museum of the American Indian. In this spirit of "decolonizing" perspectives on American arts, the course dedicates sessions to the discussion of works and writings by African American, Native American, Asian American and Chicano artists. 

Literature and the Civil Rights Movement 

Covering key periods of modern American cultural history --the Jim Crow laws, the desegregation campaigns post 1945, Brown v. Board of Education, the King Years, the Black Arts Movement, and the Black Power Movement--this interdisciplinary course centers on literature from and about the Civil Rights Movement. The general questions that guide our analysis include: how do perceptions of race and racial difference as well as the legacy of abolitionist writings inform cultural productions of the Movement and beyond? How do American writers and visual artists respond to the ideals, victories, and setbacks of the “undefeated but unfinished revolution” (Dubek 2018) of the Civil Rights Movement? How can we further its study beyond a black/white binary and include creative responses by Native American, Chicana/o, and women authors of color? Readings include printed, visual, and oral sources which are complemented with readings of the press and a critical bibliography in order to better understand the complex cultural history and legacy of the Civil Rights Movement as well as its implications in today's political and cultural landscapes. Authors include, among others, James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Harper Lee, Audre Lorde, bell hooks,  and Anthony Brooks.

Border Poetics

 

Cultural theorist Gloria Anzaldúa defines Borderlands as spaces where “two or more cultures edge each other, where people of different races occupy the same territory, where under, lower, middle and upper classes touch, where the space between two individuals shrinks with intimacy” (1999:19). She contrasts this concept with borders, which she sees as dividing lines set up to define safe and unsafe places, to distinguish between “us” and “them.” In this seminar, we reflect on the interplay between borders and borderlands as they manifest in literature, visual arts, and beyond. Our readings center on fiction, creative non-fiction, and critical thought from and about the American Southwest, but our critical bibliography, discussions, and research assignments address other global border communities. The course is divided into four themes: the construction of borders, border-crossing, and the destruction and preservation of borders. Authors include, Leslie Marmon-Silko, Sandra Cisneros, Demetria Martinez, Alejandro Morales, among others. 

Queer Politics in Literature

This course examines ways in which gender, sexuality, and identity politics inform, critique, and shape literature and visual narratives in the United States. It focuses on the relation between works of fiction and key sociopolitical and artistic moments from the 1890s to today, covering the Decadent movement, First-Wave Feminism, queer activism in the 1920s, Second-Wave feminism, Stonewall riots, Third-Wave Feminism, the AIDS crisis, marriage equality movement, and global queer migrations. Readings include printed, visual, and oral sources which are complemented with press articles, legal and medical documents, and a critical bibliography addressing major debates in literary studies and Gender and Sexuality Studies. Authors include Oscar Wilde, James Baldwin, Edmund White, Audre Lorde, John Rechy, Cherríe Moraga, Adrienne Rich, Leslie Feinberg, Audre Lorde, Cheryl Dunye, and Sandy Stone.

Graphic Narratives  

 

This creative writing course offers a space for students who wish to produce fiction, creative non-fiction, poetry, or scriptwriting through graphic forms. The course is divided into four units. The first begins with an overview of key components of narrative theory (setting, temporality, discourse, voice, point-of-view, characters, rhetoric, action, conflict). It then moves to a discussion of the diverse forms of graphic narratives at large (comic-books, the graphic novel, albums, cartoons, and sequential photography). A selection of graphic novels will be analyzed with special regard to the narratives and aesthetics. The third unit focuses on workshops dedicated to the drafting of the narratives, including content research, story design, character development, and pictorial methods and tools. The final unit centers on the montage, production, and presentation of the students’ graphic narratives.

Global Crime Fiction

 

Crime fiction is one of the world’s most popular genres. It encompasses detective fiction, heists, mysteries, suspense, espionage, police stories, among many other subgenres that attest to the flexibility and diversity of the genre. In this course we study a selection of global crime narratives from the invention of genre in the nineteenth century to today and examine the historical, cultural, and political underpinnings directing the authors and the readers. What is the global appeal of crime fiction? What are the major similarities and differences between classic and contemporary narratives of crime? What can a study of crime fiction reveal about sociocultural anxieties, gender and race relations, and the interactions of fiction and reality? As we read closely works by authors that include, Poe, Conan Doyle, Chester Himes, and Christie, we will question the evolution of the genre, its conventions, tropes, as well as its adaptations in different global and historical contexts. The first part of the course concentrates on crime fiction from the nineteenth and early twentieth century, while the second part on the twentieth and twenty-first century.