My life as a teacher began in Mexico’s National Autonomous University, Latin America’s largest public university which houses approximately three hundred thousand undergraduate students who come from all areas of the country and the world, and from extremely diverse social, cultural, and economic backgrounds. Here I was given the opportunity to teach my first course: an eighteenth-century British novel survey which began with Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders and which I chose to conclude with Frances Burney’s Evelina. Throughout my nearly sixteen years teaching at the undergraduate level, I have enriched my pedagogical praxis through conversations with colleagues, faculty development opportunities, by reading cutting-edge scholarship in my field, and revising my syllabi by listening carefully to student needs and questions.
The lesson I learned when I taught that first course at UNAM still informs my pedagogical praxis: each student has a different way of learning. At the same time, I have also found that the particularities of my own learning experience can be of use to students. In teaching critical reading and writing, research, and Digital Humanities, I draw heavily from my bicultural upbringing. Learning literature and academic writing, I find, has much in common with learning a new language. Critical reading is a process which begins by identifying historical, social, and cultural particularities. Providing students with the means to unlock these particularities is a crucial step in encouraging them to claim these texts, whether they were published in 1720 or in 2020, as their own. This is also why I draw from the vicissitudes that shape my own writing and research. In the everyday classroom, in workshops, and in office hours, I share my experience tackling the challenges of critical inquiry and writing as a means of highlighting what for me is the core of any university or college education—intellectual companionship.
I received PLU’s Faculty Excellence Award in Teaching, 2016-2017.