I grew up in a German-speaking household, so English was actually my second language. In fact, I had to learn English twice because when I was three, I forgot how to speak it after spending four months in Germany. I began studying Spanish as a freshman in high school and added French when I was a sophomore. I enjoyed languages so much that in college I decided to major in my two favorite subjects: Spanish and music. The highlight of my undergraduate experience was definitely my junior year when I lived and studied in Barcelona, Spain. After returning from Spain, I planned to attend graduate school and specialize in Spanish literature but the Latin American novel course I took during my first semester at the U of I changed everything; I knew that Latin American literature was what I wanted to read and study.
Graduate school was an important time to read and learn the craft of teaching. From 1989 to the present I have always taught three to six courses a year. Other highlights in graduate school involved returning to Barcelona to work at the Universitat de Barcelona from 1993-1994, as well as summer research trips to Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua. I also spent a summer in Recife, Brazil studying Portuguese and two summers in Paris studying French. Before completing my doctoral dissertation, I accepted a visiting assistant professor position at the University of Puget Sound (Tacoma, Washington). After receiving the Ph.D. I moved to Madison, Wisconsin, where I was a visiting assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin. I came to Northern Illinois University in 2000.
My research and teaching interests continue to focus on Latin American literature. While my dissertation was on Nicaraguan poets Gioconda Belli, Daisy Zamora, Michele Najlis, Vidaluz Meneses and Rosario Murillo, I have also written and published works on Ernesto Cardenal, Roque Dalton, Nicolás Guillén, Miguel Angel Asturias, Humberto Ak'abal, Rosa María Britton and Gloria Guardia. At the moment, I am completing a book project that analyzes the process of reading, interpreting and writing that are present in three works of poetry that deal with national and regional history: Historias prohibidas del Pulgarcito (Roque Dalton), El diario que a diario (Nicolás Guillén) and El estrecho dudoso (Ernesto Cardenal). In this book I explore how each poetic voice assumes a different role in order to make sense of the past: historian, trickster and scribe. Other projects that I intend to pursue fully in the future deal with Panamanian literature. In 1999 I was fortunate enough to be invited as a speaker to the First International Conference on Panamanian Literature. As a result I met two compelling writers, Gloria Guardia and Rosa María Britton. Since that time I have been fascinated by their fictional representations of US-Panama relations present in their novels, short stories and theater. Projects that are on the backburner include an article on Britton's Esa esquina del paraíso as well as an edition of Guardia's non-fiction. I have also discovered the works of another Panamanian novelist, Joaquín Beleño, whose Canal novel trilogy promises many rich possibilities for study.
- "'Para demostrar que podemos aportar algo al país': la poesía de Humberto Ak'abal y la nueva nación guatemalteca." Doce autores guatemaltecos. Edited by Luis Jiménez and Oralia Preble-Niemi. Guatemala: Artemis Edinter, 2004.
- "El poder polivalente de las metáforas en Libertad en llamas de Gloria Guardia." Explicación de textos literarios. Vol. XXXI-1 (2002-2003), 5-20.
- "La novela canalera como acto contestatario de la nación panameña" in the on-line journal Istmo, December 2003.
- "Novela y nación: el caso de Rosa María Britton y Gloria Guardia" in Revista Iberoamericana. Vol. LXVII, No. 196 (June-September 2001), 451-460.
- "El sujeto indígena y la modernidad en 'Leyenda de la Tatuana'." Alba de América. Vol. 19 (2000), 99-106.
- "'Non debe el cronista dejar de fascer su oficio': el dilema ante la historia en El estrecho dudoso de Ernesto Cardenal." Cultura de Guatemala. Año XXI, Vol. I, Guatemala: Universidad Rafael Landívar (enero-mayo 2000), 89-102.
- "El debate historiográfico en Las historias prohibidas del Pulgarcito de Roque Dalton." Cultura de Guatemala: Homenaje al centenario de Cesar Brañas y Jorge Luis Borges. Año XX. Vol. II, Guatemala: Universidad de Rafael Landívar (mayo-agosto 1999), 105-124.
- "El diálogo entre la literatura y la historia en Las historias prohibidas del Pulgarcito de Roque Dalton." The Other Roques. Edited by Dennis Seager and Rafael Lara. University of the South Press, 1999, 15-32.
- "El poeta y el lector revolucionario en Historias prohibidas del pulgarcito de Roque Dalton." Casa de las Américas No. 203 (abril-junio 1996), 108-115.
- "En torno al discurso revolucionario y poético en Roque Dalton." Cincinnati Romance Review Vol. 15 (1996), 144-149.
- "'Para mí es importante el diálogo': una entrevista con la novelista panameña Gloria Guardia." Cultura de Guatemala: Narrativa hispanoamericana: dilemas y expresión. Año XXII. Vol. II (mayo-agosto 2001), 23-43. Reprinted in SELA (South Eastern Latin Americanist), Vol. XLV, No. 3 and 4 (Winter/Spring 2002), 55-68. Also reprinted twice on-line in PerspectivaCiudadana.com (Dominican Republic), November 2003.
- Entries for Gioconda Belli and Rosa María Britton in Noted Twentieth-Century Latin American Women: A Biographical Dictionary. Edited by Cynthia Tompkins and David W. Foster. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press Company, 2000.
- Rubén Darío y El correo de la tarde. Valencia: Instituto de Estudios Modernistas, 1996.
Book Reviews Published
- Review of El último juego and Libertad en llamas by Gloria Guardia. Letras femeninas, 2000.
- Review of Colibríes en el exilio by Ivon Gordon Vailakis. Feministas Unidas. November 1998, 40.
- "El sujeto indigena y la modernidad en Leyendas de Guatemala y El espejo de Lida Sal." in Cien años de magia: Lecturas de Miguel Angel Asturias en el centenario de su nacimiento. Edited by Oralia Preble-Niemi. Guatemala: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 2005.
- "Las metáforas interamericanas en El último juego y Libertad en llamas de Gloria Guardia" (for invited book project directed by Dr. Maida Watson, Florida International University).
- Introduction on Rosa María Britton for critical anthology on Latin American Theater to be published by the University of Antioquia Press, Colombia (editor Juanamaría Cordones-Cook, University of Missouri-Columbia).
- "Las ansiedades del autor en los cuentos de Enrique Jaramillo-Levi" for a collection of essays on his work (edited by Enrique Jaramillo-Levi).
- Ph.D., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Spanish, 1997
- M.A., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Spanish, 1991
- B.A., Elmhurst College, Spanish and music, 1989
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