Teacher. Scholar. Intellectual Activist.


To teach, to my mind, is not to take a position of authority, but to learn perpetually alongside those who take my courses. I avoid teaching students; instead, I strive to learn alongside co-learners; instead of grading and hierarchical, one-way forms evaluation, we ungradewe work collectively toward group goals, we self-assess, and we reflect. We think about the privilege of advanced learning and how to break down the capitalistic and cultural barriers placed between people and ideas.

During my eighteen years of international, domestic, and study-abroad teaching experience, I have had the pleasure of working with heritage learners of Spanish; traditional second language learners; bilingual and monolingual Spanish and English speakers; first-generation college students; and non-traditional students. I am certified in Universally-Designed Learning [UDL], and my classrooms are deeply committed to inclusive pedagogies. I have taught L2 and heritage Spanish language; literary and cultural studies in Spanish and English, and a plethora of courses within Gender Studies, in Spanish and English. I maintain a classroom culture that provides students with peer-centered frameworks through which they interact with material and concepts. I am well versed in other pedagogies and methodologies, including technology-mediated instruction and information technology and I engage students individually and often, giving them opportunities to work with me toward class goals.

During my career, I have taught a wide gamma of undergraduate and graduate courses in both Spanish and English. At Northeastern Illinois University, a Hispanic-Serving Institution comprised primarily of first-generation students, many of whom are non-traditional, I use methodologies designed through social justice frameworks in order to address common hurdles for this population, which include lack of access to technology, child care, and time/space constraints that affect crucial study practices. To address this, students in my composition courses write the majority of the final paper in class through workshops on topic choice, brainstorming, researching, outlining, and drafting components of their final paper. I incorporate pedagogies including, for example, flipped classrooms, where student complete more time-consuming tasks in class, like writing assignments, and complete other activities designed for doing on the go—be that during commutes or in spaces where one’s attention is divided. This approach does not only address equity: it shifts the focus away from the final product and onto the process or lifestyle of learning, research, and writing. I also provide students guided peer feedback on their papers throughout the semester, thus giving students time, structure, and the opportunity to incorporate feedback into their final draft. In courses for early career students, I design activities focused on demonstrating the diversity and depth of the cultures of the Spanish-speaking and Latinx worlds. For example, in an intermediate course, students were asked to read an article on the gender roles of Juchitán, Oaxaca. Lamentably, this reading presented a binary reading of gender that made no mention of the Muxes, a gender group that identifies as a third gender and has a central role in Juchitán’s community. After students read Imagina’s article on Juchitán, we watched a documentary on the Muxes and in Spanish, students were able to discuss gender performance and stereotypes, identifying how the article reinforced gender binaries by excluding the Muxe community. 

In 300- and 400-level content courses in Latin American and Latinx cultural and literary analysis, I focus on hemispheric approaches to Latinx and Mexican literature and culture from the colonial to the contemporary. I have designed and taught canonical, traditional literary courses read through a critical lens, as well as courses focused on diversifying and expanding the literary and cultural canon. For example, I recently designed two new interdisciplinary courses for our Spanish, Latinx and Latin American Studies, and Gender, Women’s and Sexuality Studies curriculum entitled “Latina/x Feminisms and Social Media” and “Caste War Textualities.” In the first, students read current research from the fields of psychology, sociology, and cultural studies regarding the role of social media activity, activism, and influencers. In other words, we consider how virtual spaces affect (or not) the world beyond the Internet. We end the course by performing discourse analysis on some of today’s most prevalent Instagram Latina/x feminist accounts, juxtaposing them to the social media accounts of Chicago’s Latina/x activist organizations to trace the interpretation and deployment of the Latina/x feminisms we read during the first unit. As part of the final project, students are asked to create a personal narrative in Adobe Premiere Pro and Google Sites, highlighting their own intersections with the content of this course. In the latter course, students once again delve into how fiction interacts with lived experience by surveying nearly 200 years of literary history regarding the Yucatec Maya, a register that results in the construction of racialized mythologies that directly affect policy and economic activity today. We end the course by considering the Mexican southeast as it is developed into a tourist enclave, examining topics like the environmental crises and its effects on the Mayan milpa, Mayan labor exploitation in the hotel industry, and obstetric violence that Mayan women experience in Mexican and private hospitals. These courses are currently at full enrollment. While these courses explore material that falls under the national boundary of “Mexico,” I do not bind that material to the national border, which allows me to follow these texts as they move through time and space.

See my courses


My current book-length project, Caste War Textualities: Racial Mythologies and Mayan Imaginaries, examines how race functioned in the nineteenth-century, becoming the solution to the ebbs, flows, and eventual failures of liberal promises in Southern Mexico. My reading of the Caste War period (1847-1902) elucidates how the gendered colonial system migrated into the gendered colonial-modern with only a minimal degree of disruption, making use of abolitionist, Black, trans feminisms to do so. I consider a mixture of texts, including newspapers, novels, and literary magazines, thinking beyond the constraints of nation to articulate Yucatán's construction of race—especially those of blanco and Indio—into a larger discursive web of plantation societies, including the US South, Cuba, and Haiti. 

I have two forthcoming articles, one that imagines (im)migration through the epistemological breakthroughs of trans* feminist theory, and another—co-published with graduate student and research assistant Cristina Zhunio—that seeks new stakes in the interpretation of Ixcanul, a film produced in Kaqchikel. 

see my publications

Intellectual Activist.

Capitalism doesn’t approve of rest and we live in conditions of collective trauma so constant and normalized that our metabolisms have adapted. —Aurora Levin Morales

Overwhelmingly, activism emphasizes "direct, vigorous action"—intellectual activism, at least in my conceptualization of it, opens the notion of action to that of the intellectual— that is, doing the endless, hard work of wrestling with new ways of thinking, hearing, seeing, and doing. 

Often, I hear that because certain knowledges are inaccessible, are difficult, or are "privileged," that they are inherently not useful, not liberatory, or in a word, "bad." I hear an implication that because thinking is purportedly not collective action, it is not "doing the work" "in the streets"—thus suggesting that intellectual approaches to liberation are but mere musings of an elite class that seeks to maintain privilege by co-opting and overcomplicating the "real" work done elsewhere.

I find such critiques lacking in many ways. For one, they are reliant on an internalized logic of capitalism—that one must only do work, and work must be recognizable to us as a form of physical, and decidedly non-cerebral, labor. They are reliant on the logics of ableism—that one can only do the work in the ways that certain people with certain abilities can. Finally, such critiques promote anti-intellectualism via a conflation between thinking and the oppressive constructs that limit access to thought. That is, having the tools to do intellectual work has been relegated to a realm of privilege—one must have the money, say, to go to school, to have access to certain languages and libraries, and one must have the time to do the wrestling with ideas. I contend, however, that its this relationship between systems of harm and such intellectual work that is the problem—the way that our entire existences are articulated upon (gendered, racialized) landscapes of capitalism and state power, this is what denies access to knowledge, not the knowledge itself. I repeat: it is not the knowledge itself.

My intellectual activism thus recognizes that liberatory politics can come from anyone, anywhere—it is not just (and not usually) the production of an intellectual elite (for indeed, elite intellectual production can often be antithetical to liberatory projects, its obsession with the objective, the liberal, the quantitative, the knowability of all, for example).

My own activist path has dipped in an out of various arenas. From 2015-2017, my intellectual activism took the form of thinking corporeal movement through queerness and feminist praxis. With like-minded members of Champaign's LGBTQIA+ community, we created a gym that focused on community building and undo-ing harmful narratives around exercise, size, and health; we designed trainings in anti-racist, anti-white supremacist praxis specifically for our group; we created dance curriculums specifically for fat bodies; and we formed performance spaces inclusive of all forms of art and activism. 

Today, my intellectual activism seeks out opportunities to create art, design websites, and make podcasts, for example, places my students can create public-pointing tools that distill their intellectual experiences beyond academe's walls, to bridge the gap that capitalist exclusion has created from higher education. My intellectual activism is to be radically vulnerable and open with my students. I seek out pedagogical opportunities that minimize harm for my students, many of whom are immigrants and first-generation, Latinx-identifying, and/or work full-time to support themselves and their families. My intellectual activism is also embedded in an unending dialogue with others, people with whom I may never speak but through their scholarship, I get to know. I put no disciplinary boundaries on my scholarly explorations, and I seek no home within those borders.