Areas of Research:
U.S. Latino/a Literature and issues of race, ethnicity, citizenship, and human rights; 20th-Century American Women's Literature.
On Latinidad: U.S. Latino Literature and the Construction of Ethnicity (UP Florida, 2007)
The Madwoman Can't Speak: Or Why Insanity is Not Subversive (Cornell UP, 1998)
Selected recent articles:
“Narrating the Non-Nation: Literary Journalism and ‘Illegal’ Border Crossings.” Forthcoming in Arizona Quarterly.
“The Lost Ones: Post Gatekeeper Border Fiction and the Construction of Cultural Trauma.” Latino Studies 8:304-27.
“Central Americans in the City: Goldman, Tobar, and the Question of Panethnicity.” LIT: Literature, Interpretation, Theory 20.3 (July 2009): 173-95.
“At the Intersection of Trauma and Testimonio: Edwidge Danticat's The Farming of Bones.” Antípodas: Journal of Hispanic and Galician Studies (October 2009): 5-26.
Kemper Fellowship for Excellence in Teaching, Fall 2009
Hall Center Research Fellowship, Fall 2008
Smithsonian Institution Research Fellowship in Latino/a Studies, 2010
The central issue I address in my work on 20th century U.S. literary studies is the conjunction between literature, group identity, and what we might call activism, or the ability to promote social change. In the last ten years, my research has focused on how these issues play themselves out in U.S. Latino/a literature. Recent literary scholarship has paid particular attention to how literature, understood broadly to include life-writing, oral histories, and testimonio, can contribute to “community” building, solidarity movements, social activism, and human rights struggles, and can thus play a role in inducing social change. It is this possibility that my scholarship is concerned with. My research is guided by an investment in making literary studies relevant to the "real"--to real, lived experiences--and in connecting what I do as a literary critic to larger discussions of effective social and political practices for groups that have experienced marginalization, disempowerment, or more extreme forms of oppression. As I see it, literature is one of many cultural forms that can participate in this larger discussion, because "good stories" tell powerful, engrossing narratives about who we are, what our place in the world is, what we can do about it, and what challenges we may face along the way. Literature can also introduce educated, middle-class audiences in the West to social crises far removed from them.
Most recently, my research in this area has focused on Latino/a literary representations of undocumented immigration into the U.S. In my new book project, “‘Illegal’: Narrating the Non-Nation,” I am interested in how Latino/a narratives (both fictional and non-fictional) negotiate the central currents of popular discourse about “illegal” immigration, and how it attempts (as it often does) to engage readers’ imaginations and move them to a position of solidarity with immigrants.