Emily Knudson-Vilaseca

I came to an interest in Portuguese language and literature somewhat late and unexpectedly, through a Portuguese-for-Spanish-speakers course taken during graduate school while working toward a Ph.D. in Spanish literature. That initial spark ignited a true passion for the literature, film and other cultural production coming out of those countries where Portuguese is spoken, in particular Portugal and the African countries where Portuguese is an official language. As a result, the degree I ultimately earned is a Ph.D. in Hispanic and Lusophone Literature. My dissertation, "Embody the Un/home: African Immigration to Portugal and Spain," is available online.

Research Interests

In my primary area of research, I bring together my three main interests – Portugal, Spain and those parts of Africa that had and in many ways retain a connection with the Iberian Peninsula – by focusing on African immigration to Spain and Portugal. I’ve published on this topic in the following:

  • The article "Rehoused but Unhomed: The Effects of Portugal’s Special Re-housing Program as Represented in Pedro Costa’s Juventude em Marcha," published in the Journal of Urban Cultural Studies (4:1-2, pp. x–xx) in 2017. This article analyzes Pedro Costa’s 2006 film Juventude em Marcha (Colossal Youth) vis-à-vis Portugal’s Special Rehousing Program, especially as it was carried out in and around the Amadora municipality outside central Lisbon in the 1990s and early 2000s. The film focuses on the experience of a Cape Verdean named Ventura as he moves from a squatted neighborhood set for demolition to new government-built housing.
  • The book Hybridity in Spanish Culture (Cambridge Scholars 2011), which I co-edited with María P. Tajes and Maureen Tobin Stanley. Included in the book is a chapter I wrote on Pablo Aranda’s novel La otra ciudad, which deals in part with the issue of Moroccan immigration to Spain.
  • My article "Three Generations of Marginalization in Lídia Jorge’s O Vento Assobiando nas Gruas or Where are the Immigrants Going – Really?" (Bulletin of Hispanic Studies 2006; published as a book chapter in Para Um Leitor Ignorado: Ensaios sobre a ficção de Lídia Jorge, edited by Ana Paula Ferreira 2009). This article looks at this Portuguese author’s treatment of the topic of Cape Verdean immigration to Portugal. My other research interests include the literature and film of Portugal and Portuguese-speaking Africa, 20th- and 21st-century Spanish literature, and more specifically, the literature and culture of the two Spanish cities on African soil, Ceuta and Melilla.

Teaching Experience

As an educator, I am devoted to helping my students discover that spark that will turn them on to Spanish and/or Portuguese languages and cultures, and hopefully find a way to connect to something foreign. I have taught at Northern Illinois University since 2011. Previously, I taught at Pacific University, and as a graduate student, at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities and Ohio State University.


  • Ph.D., University of Minnesota, Hispanic and Lusophone Literature, 2007
  • M.A., The Ohio State University, Spanish Literature, 1999
  • B.A., Concordia College, Spanish and English, 1996


Emily Knudson-Vilaseca
Wirtz Hall 119