Biography Writing Teaching Appearances  

Teaching Philosophy

“I am an artist.  I am here to live out loud.”  --Emile Zola

Art defines who we are as a people and plays a significant role individually and communally within a society.  When we create art, we make meaning of our lives. We deepen our understanding of our humanity and our ethics.  It is through art that culture and history are transmitted.  Because literature is art, I believe the creation, the reading, the discussion of literature brings us closer to an understanding of who we are in all our complexities while appreciating the aesthetic qualities of literary craft.  Literature does save lives! 

I have taught literature at the junior high, high school, and presently at the university level. I seek to help students understand that the process of becoming better thinkers, writers, and individuals does not stop at the end of the semester.  I wish for them to nurture a passion for learning, to continually seek out knowledge on their own.  I wish for each of them to be models for others, to be “passionate learners” or “passionate seekers of knowledge.”

Like Paolo Freire, I encourage my students to “deal critically with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world.” This is key in understanding how to live a passionate and meaningful life.  Also within the classroom, I consider bell hooks an excellent guide.  She wrote, “teaching is a performative act.”  I invite students through this “act” into a “more engaged and active participation in learning.”  Therefore, I place texts within their appropriate cultural frameworks and encourage students to consider each work on its own individual aesthetic and historical terms.  Craig Womack’s pedagogical philosophy (Red on Red: Native American Literary Separatism) supports this thinking.  If we are to delve into the connections between and among tribal literatures and Chicana/o and Latina/o literatures, then we must read each literary piece within the context of the particular community from which it emerged.  For example, in addition to teaching the literary text Telling To Live:  Latina Feminist Testimonios, I may have students view two films: “Boricua” by Marisol Torres (a Puerto Rican filmmaker from Chicago) and “Sudor Amargo” by Sonia Valentín (filmmaker from the island of Puerto Rico).  After discussing the various viewpoints of Latinas in the literary text, we apply these particularized experiences to the two films which, written and directed by women who identify as Puerto Rican, come from two distinct cultural experiences (mainland/Midwest and the island of Puerto Rico).  Students begin to think not only across cultures but within a geographic transnational context.  This is vital preparation for living in a transhemispheric world. 

Download her CV here.


Courses Taught

University of Nebraska-Lincoln

  Chicana and Latina Literature and Theory, Eng. 971
  Chicana and Latina Literature (special topics, Eng. 498/898) 
  Chicana and Chicano Literature, Eng. 245D
Ethnic Studies 100 
  Ethnic Studies 400
  Gay and Lesbian Literature, Eng. 212
  Novels After Dreiser 4/805
  American Novels II 4/805 
  Survey of Late American Literature, 361B
  Advanced Creative Writing, Fiction, Eng. 452
  Introduction to the Writing of Fiction, 252 

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

  Reconfiguring Traditional Borderlands in Chicana and Latina Literature, LLS 296, Section #4