I am a scholar, poet, and educator based at Emory University in Atlanta, GA. My teaching and research focuses on Caribbean and Latinx literature and visual culture.
My research on the legacy of the Cuban rafters in U.S. visual culture is now used as a public teaching tool by Smithsonian Learning Lab, and my lesson plan on representations of Caribbean landscapes appears in the National Humanities Center’s (NHC) Digital Library for Educators.
Across my literature and writing courses, one thing remains constant: I challenge my students to practice a delicate balancing act between critical and creative thinking. Studying the art and craft of literature engages both analytic and imaginative modes of thought. I believe that integrating these modes is crucial to helping students interpret the structures of representation they’ve inherited and imagine their way into a better world.
Comparative Literature (Caribbean, Latin America, and U.S. Diaspora)
Creative Writing (Poetry & Nonfiction)
Scholarly Writing & Composition
Courses & Syllabi
Alternate Documents: (Re)presentation Across Genres
CPLT 101: Intro to Literary Studies / First-Year Composition
From the news we read to the TV shows we watch, issues of representation pervade every facet of our daily lives. Whose stories are represented, and how are these representations actively composed? In this course, we will explore the aesthetic, formal, and political dimensions of representation through literary and visual works that grapple with issues of citizenship and migration, race and identity, and language and memory. Students will compare popular accounts of these issues with personal narratives that re-present them in a new light, acting as “alternate documents” to the dominant narratives that appear in the mass media and conventional historical accounts.
Comparative Caribbeans: Reading Between the Islands
CPLT 201W: Reading Comparatively
In La isla en peso, Cuban poet Virgilio Piñera laments “la maldita circunstancia del agua por todas partes” (the damned circumstance of water on all sides). Taking up the relation he posits between geography and fate (in this case, a curse), this class will examine how writers and artists in the Caribbean and its diasporas have mobilized representations of the landscape and the seascape to grapple with issues of identity, colonization, and “natural” disaster from the colonial period to today.
Creative Forms in Latin American Thought: Visionaries, Vanguards, & Vagabonds
CPLT 201W: Reading Comparatively
What we say and how we say it: does one matter more than the other? How do we distinguish between the two, and is a distinction even possible? Debates on the relationship between content and form are foundational to the field of literary studies. In this course, we will explore how writers experiment with form to challenge and re-envision relationships between the self and the rapidly changing world. Toward this end, we will ask: How do aesthetic forms allow writers to experiment with new ways of thinking about identity, community, and history? We will focus on texts from Latin America and the Caribbean, regions whose complex histories of political transformation, colonial occupation, and independence movements provide rich sites for articulating the importance, and even urgency, behind the search for proper forms. Creative exercises will also provide opportunities to interrogate literary form through creative practice.
Spectacular Visions: Literature & Visual Culture in the Americas
CPLT 202W: Literature, Genres, Media
This course introduces students to theoretical approaches that influence the study of visual culture and its intersections with literary studies. Students will investigate how writers, artists, and theorists address the complex intersections of race, sexuality, gender, class, and nationality in light of subjects such as state violence, immigration, and inter-cultural performance in the Hispanophone Americas and the Latinx U.S. The concepts of spectacle, framing, witness and testimony, and mourning and memory will all be central to our discussions. We will begin by practicing conventional ways of reading and seeing, and we will learn to challenge these as the course advances.
See full description and syllabus here.
Visual Poetics & Poetic Visualities
Comparative Literature or Creative Writing Course, adaptable depending on need
This course serves as an introduction to reading poetry with a focus on how writers from a variety of linguistic and national traditions engage imagery and other visual forms in their work. We will begin by developing a set of foundational tools for poetic analysis, examining “traditional” poems that play with textual arrangement and white space. From there, we will extend our line of inquiry to hybrid works in which writers incorporate photographic images into the fabric of their texts, adding visual analysis strategies to our critical toolkit. Finally, we will expand our focus to video poems and performance art that foregrounds poetic language (textual and spoken) in tandem with moving images. Weekly “critical-creative” exercises will provide opportunities to interrogate literary form through creative practice and critical reflection.
Writing Cuba’s Afterimage: Intro to Archive-Based Creative Writing
Community-based workshop proposed to a Cuban-American cultural organization
This workshop is a space to find modes of expression for transforming your own experiences with Cuba and Cuban American identity into language. We will focus on ekphrastic writing; that is, we will conjure up our impressions of visual materials such as family photos and archival documents to compose poems and short works of fiction and nonfiction. We will read literature by Cuban and Cuban American writers, taking these works as model texts as we delve into a careful study of craft. This means that we will examine not only what these authors write about, but how they write it. The course will provide participants with a toolbox of writing strategies and experiments to help them get their ideas on the page. We will also constructively critique each other’s work, helping one another realize our individual visions for our own writing. Through reading, discussion, writing, and revision, participants will explore the possibilities of voice, take risks with language, and deepen their relationship to Cuban literature and culture.