The Latin American Cultural and Literary Studies Program at The Ohio State University offers one of the most distinguished and comprehensive MA and PhD programs in Latin American cultural studies in the nation. The program promotes an understanding of the ways in which Latin/@ American cultural production and practices—understood in a broad sense and including literature, performance, film, and music—interface with larger social, economic, political, and historical processes. As one of the largest public research universities in the United States, Ohio State offers many resources to support the study of Latin American cultures and literatures from different perspectives—most notably, the Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS), which is home to 112 faculty members among 9 colleges and 32 departments. CLAS offers a Master of Arts in Latin American Studies as well as FLAS Fellowships for undergraduates and graduates studying Portuguese or Quechua.
Our faculty members have many overlapping areas of research and are by no means limited to the following concentrations. However, the following descriptions give an idea of how our collaborative and individual work has developed thus far. Please refer to individual faculty web pages for further information.
The research of several faculty members delves into the role of affect and emotion in larger socio-cultural and political processes through studies of women and trans writers, contemporary filmmaker, and performative dynamics.
Affect has become a major concern in cultural as well as literary studies. Not always clear what the conceptual distinctions are between affect, emotion and feeling, many critics decided to use them interchangeably. Ana Del Sarto built her work differentiating these notions to articulate an imbricated understanding of the complexities and nuances of contemporary cultural, political, economic, and social events and environments (atmospheres). Departing from a reading and critique of Kristeva's semiotic-psychoanalysis, Zizek's Marxist-Lacanian psychoanalysis, Butler's gender and feminist performativity with Deleuzian squizoanalysis from a Latin American perspective, Del Sarto's analyses focus on the multidimensional processes of capturing affects into affective dynamics or force-field constellations, which reconfigure subjectivities and subjects.
Laura Podalsky departs from a Deleuzian framework. Her book, The Politics of Affect and Emotion in Contemporary Latin American Cinema: Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, and Mexico (2011) explores the sensorial appeals of contemporary Latin American films (1990s-2000s) in the context of larger public debates about past traumas and current anxieties - from the emergence of the thriller as a preferred genre, to the proliferation of transnational productions by "traveling" filmmakers.
Fernando Unzueta’s research focuses on the formation of national identities and modern subjectivities in nineteenth-century Latin America, particularly in the Andes. Michelle Wibbelsman’s interests and areas of specialization include South American indigenous cultures, ethnographic studies and ethnomusicology. She is the author of Ritual Encounters: Otavalan Modern and Mythic Community (2009). Her work in Andean Ecuador has focused on symbolic and semiotic analytical approaches to indigenous performances, ritual practices and politics, while her current research explores indigenous transnational migration, diaspora and cosmopolitanism. Lisa Voigt studied indigenous participation in festivals in the Andean mining town of Potosí during the colonial period in her 2016 book project, Spectacular Wealth: The Festivals of Colonial South American Mining Towns. Ulises Juan Zevallos Aguilar works on indigenous literatures and cultures in the Andean, Amazonian, and transnational contexts. He is the author of Literatura y cultura en el sur Andino Cusco Puno (siglos XX y XXI) and Las provincias contraatacan: Regionalismo y anticentralismo en la literatura peruana del siglo XX (2009). Lúcia Helena Costigan is another specialist on Andean and Amazonian literatures and cultures. The Department also offers language instruction in Quechua, and graduate students who wish to study Quechua may apply for summer or academic-year FLAS fellowships from the Center for Latin American Studies.
Faculty research on colonial Latin America has a strong comparative focus, engaging topics, texts, and individuals who cross borders between the Spanish and Portuguese empires on both sides of the Atlantic. Lúcia Helena Costigan is the author of A sátira e o intelectual criollo na colônia: Gregório de Matos e Juan del Valle y Caviedes (1991), a comparative study of Brazilian and Peruvian satirical poetry, and Through Cracks in the Wall: Modern Inquisitions and New Christian Letrados in the Iberian Atlantic World (2010), which analyzes early modern literary writings and inquisition testimonies produced by descendants of Jews forced to convert to Christianity in Iberia and Latin America. Lisa Voigt’s first book, Writing Captivity in the Early Modern Atlantic: Circulations of Knowledge and Authority in the Iberian and English Imperial Worlds (2009), examined captivity narratives in a transatlantic and comparative context, and her second book, Spectacular Wealth: The Festivals of Colonial South American Mining Towns (2016), compared festivals in Potosí (Spanish viceroyalty of Peru) and Minas Gerais (Brazil). She is now working on representations of Amerindians in European performance and print in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
Many of our faculty members engage in comparative research and teaching on Brazilian and Spanish American cultures: in the colonial period, Lúcia Helena Costigan and Lisa Voigt; in the modern and contemporary period, Isis Barra Costa, Ignacio Corona, Ana Del Sarto, Paloma Martinez-Cruz, Laura Podalsky, and Ulises Juan Zevallos Aguilar. PhD students in Latin American Cultural and Literary Studies may pursue a secondary concentration or minor in Luso-Brazilian literatures and cultures by taking comparative courses as well as those offered in the PhD Program in Studies of the Portuguese-Speaking World.
Isis Barra Costa specialized in Afro-diasporic studies with a focus on Afro-Brazilian oral literature and cosmologies. Ignacio Corona’s research includes work on contemporary indigenous practitioners of chronicle writing in Mexico. Mexico’s indigenous cultures are also included as thematic units in several of his UG and G courses, such as Mexican Studies, Globalization in the Mayan Country, Transnationalism and Border Politics at the U.S.-Mexico Border, and the Introduction to Latinx Studies.
Several subfields and theories, such as History and social imaginaries, Body studies and Trauma studies as well as Feminist and Subject/subjectivities theories, populate this important research area in Latin American cultural studies. Ana Del Sarto has published extensively on issues of memory and trauma studies in relation to the (re)configuration of contemporary subjectivities/subjects. Isis Barra Costa has been working on Afro-Diasporic constructions of time and space. Ana Del Sarto has published extensively on issues of memory and trauma studies in relation to the (re)configuration of contemporary subjectivities/subjects.
Ana Del Sarto is the co-editor (with Alicia Ríos and Abril Trigo) of the groundbreaking collection The Latin American Cultural Studies Reader (2004) and Los estudios culturales latinoamericanos hacia el siglo XXI, a special issue of Revista Iberoamericana (2003). She is also the editor of alter/nativas, latin american cultural studies journal, which publishes scholarly articles and multimedia essays on Latin American arts, literatures, films, music, performances, and other cultural practices. She is the author of Sospecha y goce: Una genealogía de la crítica cultural chilena (2011). Laura Podalsky is the author of Specular City: Transforming Culture Consumption and Space in Buenos Aires 1955-1973 (2004). Ignacio Corona is the co-editor of Postnational Musical Identities: Production, Marketing, and Consumption in a Globalized Scenario (2007). Isis Barra Costa has been working on Argentine and Brazilian interrelated cultural productions. She is the co-author (with Eduardo Muslip) of Passo da Guanxuma: contactos culturales entre Brasil y Argentina (2013) and Brasil: ficciones de argentinos (2013).
Faculty teaching and research focus on the historical transformations of literary culture in Latin America from the nineteenth century to the cultural impact of neoliberalism; the intersection of cultural, media and literary studies; innovative critical and theoretical approaches to literature and the sociology of literature, narrative, and intermediality, among other related topics. Ignacio Corona is the author of Después de Tlatelolco: las narrativas políticas en México (1976-1990). Un análisis de sus estrategias retóricas y representacionales (2001) and the co-editor of The Contemporary Mexican Chronicle. Theoretical Perspectives on the Liminal Genre (2002). Fernando Unzueta has published many articles on the ideological role of periodicals in the nineteenth century and is the author of La imaginación histórica y el romance nacional en Hispanoamérica (1996) and Cultura letrada y proyectos nacionales: periódicos y literatura en Bolivia (siglo XIX) (2018). Ulises Juan Zevallos Aguilar has studied the participation of avant-garde groups in Peru and the creation of literary journals in that context. He is the author of Indigenismo y nación: Desafíos a la representación de la subalternidad quechua y aymara en el Boletín Titikaka (1926-30) (2002) .
Isis Barra Costa has been working on Afro-Brazilian ritual emblems drawn/written on the ground. She is a member of the Afro-digital museum committee of Rio de Janeiro. Michelle Wibbelsman is faculty curator of Ohio State’s Andean and Amazonian Indigenous Art and Cultural Artifacts Research Collection focused on research inquiry and engagement with Indigenous meaning-making practices. Ulises Juan Zevallos Aguilar has been working on the materiality of indigenous "libros cartoneros."
PhD students in Latin American Cultural and Literary Studies may pursue a secondary concentration or minor in Latino/a literatures and cultures or a Graduate Interdisciplinary Specialization in Latino Studies. Working at the intersection of Latinx popular culture and food studies, Paloma Martinez-Cruz's book Food Fight! Millennial Mestizaje Meets the Culinary Marketplace (University of Arizona Press, 2019) takes a decolonial approach to examine the human rights aspect the national food provisioning system. Ana Elena Puga's most recent book, Performances of Suffering in Latin American Migration: Heroes, Martyrs, and Saints (2020), interrogates the reliance on melodrama in late twentieth and twenty-first century artistic and social performances featuring undocumented migrants from Latin America, especially women and children. A translator and a dramaturg, she co-founded LaMicro Theatre, dedicated to the staging of contemporary Spanish, Latin American and US Latino plays in English and bilingual productions. Michelle Wibbelsman broaches topics of Latin American Identities "on the move." In her courses she elicits nuanced approaches to theories of migration, globalization, diaspora, transnationalism, locality, displacement, mobility and immobility, identity, and border studies.
Several of our faculty members engage musical themes in their research and teaching. Ignacio Corona’s research includes work on music and post/trans/nationalism; U.S.-Mexico border musical cultures; and Latin American and U.S. Latin rock. He is co-editor of Postnational Musical Identities: Cultural Production, Distribution, and Consumption in a Globalized Scenario (2007) and author of The Cultural Location/s of (U.S.) Latin Rock (2016). He has designed a sequence of courses on Musical Landscapes of Latin America including a survey course of Latin American music in social context and various regional courses that offer unique perspectives on issues of nationalism, ethnic identity, social struggle, cultural change, globalization and mobility viewed through the lens of music production and consumption. Michelle Wibbelsman holds a courtesy faculty appointment in the School of Music. She directs Ohio State’s Andean Music Ensemble. Her current research explores Latin American indigenous musical production and performance in transnational contexts. Ulises Juan Zevallos Aguilar’s most recent project involves research on urban musical fusions based on the traditional genre of the Peruvian huayno. Paloma Martinez-Cruz has participated in U.S. Latinx popular music as a performer and scholar of alternative music, publishing on the areas of ska, reggae, punk, Pachuco jump blues, and jazz.
Paloma Martinez-Cruz’s research addresses performance studies in a contemporary hemispheric context. Ana Elena Puga is a scholar, translator, and dramaturg whose research focuses on the intersection of aesthetics and politics in Latin American and US Latino performance. She is the author of Memory, Allegory, and Testimony in South American Theatre: Upstaging Dictatorship (2008) and Performances of Suffering in Latin American Migration (2020). Michelle Wibbelsman is director of Ohio State’s Andean Music Ensemble and Principal Investigator of the Working Group “Performance as Pedagogy.” By way of performance, she explores decolonial practices as well as affective, mimetic and practice-based pedagogical approaches that engage Andean epistemologies. Her 2009 book focuses on Andean indigenous festival performances and ritual practices. Lisa Voigt works on public festivals of the sixteenth through eighteenth centuries in various contexts. She studied indigenous and Afro-Brazilian festive performance in Spectacular Wealth: The Festivals of Colonial South American Mining Towns (2016), and is currently working on the representation and participation of Africans and Amerindians in early modern Portuguese festivals, in conjunction with RITUALS: Public Rituals in the Portuguese Empire. Isis Barra Costa works on Afro-diasporic performances with a focus on Afro-Brazilian sacred and secular performances in its various expressions.
Many of our PhD students pursue a Film Studies minor and write their dissertations on aspects of Latin American film (digital filmmaking in Bolivia, whiteness in Mexican classic cinema; female youth idols and modernity in Mexican films from the 1960s-1980s; contemporary Brazilian comedies). Others incorporate the analysis of visual culture as part of larger research projects. Our program supports these lines of investigation through coursework designed and led by a variety of faculty members. Isis Barra Costa has been working on contemporary Brazilian cinema and visual arts with a focus on Afro-digital production. Laura Podalsky has published extensively on Latin American film, including The Politics of Affect and Emotion in Contemporary Latin American Cinema: Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, and Mexico (2011) and as the co-editor of The Routledge Companion to Latin American Film (2017). Ulises Juan Zevallos Aguilar has been working on Latin American Photography, Graphic Novel, and comics. Michelle Wibbelsman is faculty curator of Ohio State’s Andean and Amazonian Indigenous Art and Cultural Artifacts Research Collection focused on research inquiry and engagement with Indigenous meaning-making practices.
Ignacio Corona is the co-editor of the collection Gender Violence at the U.S.-Mexico Border: Media Representations and Public Intervention (2010). Ana Del Sarto is working on a book project entitled Irreverent Passions: Affect and Writing focused on Southern Cone women and trans writers,addressing the issues of female and feminized bodies, subjectivities, and violence. Paloma Martinez-Cruz engages women of color feminism and alternative epistemologies in her monograph Women and Knowledge in Mesoamerica: From East L.A. to Anahuac (2011), her translation of Ponciá Vicencio, a novel by Afro-Brazilian author Conceição Evaristo, and her edited collection Rebeldes: A Proyecto Latina Anthology, which features stories and art from 26 Latina women from the Midwest and beyond.