Transnational and Ethnic Studies
in the Department of English


The English Department distinguishes itself with significant strengths in the fields of transnational, post-colonial, and ethnic studies, brought together by shared interests in issues of race and empire and by the methodologies of comparative, transnational analysis and theory. Our strengths in comparative approaches build on the department's existing work in the study of national language-literatures. The dozen or so scholars who work in these areas of teaching and research include the following interdisciplinary and/or comparative areas, which range geographically from Africa to the Caribbean and Latin America to Asia and its diaspora:

  • African and Afro-diasporic literature and culture
  • Atlantic Studies
  • Caribbean culture, literature, and theory
  • Comparative Americas studies
  • Comparative U.S. ethnic literatures
  • Italian and Italian-American studies
  • Jewish and Jewish-American literature and culture
  • Latin American and Latino literature and culture
  • Postcolonial literature and theory
  • Queer studies



Joseph Alkana (PhD, Texas) works in the fields of Jewish and American literature. He is the author of The Social Self: Nineteenth-Century Psychology and the Writings of Hawthorne, Howells, and William James (1996).

Anthony Barthelemy (PhD, Yale) works on race, sexuality, African-American literature, and early modern literature. He is the author of Black Face, Maligned Race: The Representation of Blacks in English Drama from Shakespeare to Southerne (1987).

Robert Casillo (PhD, Johns Hopkins) works in the fields of Italian and Italian-American studies, modern poetry, Victorian literature and film. His most recent book is Gangster Priest: The Italian American Cinema of Martin Scorsese (2006).

M. Evelina Galang (MFA, Colorado State) is the author, most recently, of the novel One Tribe (2006) and is currently working on a book about Filipina “comfort women” of World War II.

Walter Lew (MA, UCLA and Brown) is the author of Treadwinds: Poems and Intermedia Texts (2002). He works on Korean and Asian-American literature, on translation, and on multimedia cultural production.

David Luis-Brown (PhD, UC Santa Cruz) works on race and empire in African-diasporic, Latino, and Latin American writing. He is the author of Waves of Decolonization: Discourses of Race and Hemispheric Citizenship in Cuba, Mexico, and the United States (2008) and is writing a book on slavery in the U.S. and Cuba.

Brenna Munro (PhD, Virginia) works on African literature and queer theory, with interests in feminism and gender studies, Anglophone Caribbean writing, and contemporary Britain. Her current book project is Queer Constitutions: Sexuality, Literature and Imagining Democracy in South Africa.

Ranen Omer-Sherman (PhD, Notre Dame) works on Jewish and Israeli literature, Orientalism, and postcolonialism, and on diasporic and hybrid identities in literature. He is the author of Israel in Exile:  Jewish Writing and the Desert (2006) and the coeditor of The Jewish Graphic Novel: Critical Approaches (2008).

Sandra P. Paquet (PhD, Connecticut) works on Caribbean literature, African-American literature, and women’s studies. She is the author of Caribbean Autobiography (2002) and the editor of Anthurium: A Caribbean Literary Studies Journal, which is based in the English Department at Miami. 

John Paul Russo (PhD, Harvard) works on critical theory, twentieth-century British and American culture, and Italian and Italian-American cultural studies. He is currently completing a study, co-authored with Robert Casillo, on representations of Italy, Italians, and Italian Americans since the Renaissance.

Patricia Saunders (PhD, Pittsburgh) works on Caribbean literature, gender and sexuality, and popular culture. Her first book is Alien-Nation and Repatriation: Translating Identity in Anglophone Caribbean Literature (2007). With Sandra Paquet, she coedited Music, Memory, Resistance: Calypso and the Literary Imagination (2007). Her current project is on Jamaican dancehall culture.   

Lindsey Tucker (PhD, Delaware) works on African New World cultures. Her most recent book is The Spaces of Conjure: Fiction, Ethnography and Diaspora Time (forthcoming).

Tim Watson (PhD, Columbia) works on British, Caribbean, and transatlantic literatures, and on postcolonial theory. He is the author of Caribbean Culture and British Fiction in the Atlantic World, 1780-1870 (2008).


Miami: A Global City

Miami is an ideal crossroads for our work on ethnicity, race,  and postcolonialism in literature and culture. As what Saskia Sassen has termed a "global city," Miami is a center for Latin American entertainment and finance industries and a magnet for immigration from the Caribbean, Latin America and Europe, as well as numerous streams of migration from within the U.S.  Miami is an extraordinarily diverse city, with established African American, Haitian and Cuban exile communities. According to estimates provided by the U.S. Census Bureau, the population of Miami-Dade County stands at 2.37 million people. Ethnic minorities now constitute the majority of the greater Miami area:  60.1% are Hispanic/Latino, 20.6% are black, 19% are white (non-Hispanic), and 1.5% are Asian American (estimates of 2004 population).  Miami-Dade contains an extremely cosmopolitan population:  50.9% of the population is foreign-born, and 67.9% speak a language other than English--there were 1.25 million Spanish-speakers in the county in 2000.  Because Miami represents the future of urban America--with minorities in the majority, a huge Latino population and a strikingly cosmopolitan makeup--it presents unique challenges and opportunities for scholars of culture. 


Research groups and interdisciplinary fields of study

The following research groups and fields of study provide important forums for our comparative work:
Atlantic Studies Research Group, convened by Tim Watson and Ashli White.
Caribbean Literary Studies Group, convened by Sandra Paquet and Patricia Saunders.
Haiti Research Group, convened by Kate Ramsey.
Program in Africana Studies, directed by Edmund Abaka.
Program in American Studies, directed by Robin Bachin.
Program in Judaic Studies, directed by Haim Shaked.
Center for Latin American Studies, directed by Steve Stein.
Program in Latin American Studies, directed by Lillian Manzor.
Program in Women's and Gender Studies, directed by Tracy Ardren.


Recent graduate courses in ethnic studies, Caribbean studies, transatlantic studies, and postcolonial studies

Comparative Caribbean Literature (Paquet)
Studies in African-American Literature (Barthelemy and Tucker)
The Holocaust in Theory and Representation (Omer-Sherman)
Queer Postcoloniality: Africa (Munro)
Caribbean Popular Culture (Saunders)
The Transatlantic 1950s/1990s (Watson)
Monstrous Transformations: Kafka and Roth (Omer-Sherman)
Caribbean Women Writers (Paquet)
Transnationalism in Early Latino Literature and Culture (Luis-Brown)
Pynchon, Postmodernism, and Post-American Narrative (Tucker)
Routes and Roots:  Caribbean Writers and the Practice of Diaspora (Saunders)
Orientalism and Occidentalism (Omer-Sherman)
Caribbean Literature and Theory (Paquet)


Recent courses in other departments

Modern Languages and Literatures

  • Antillaises en Mouvement(s): La question du genre dans la littérature antillaise du XX siècle (Brudzinski)
  • Théâtre francophone: identité, alterité, exil (Lamar)
  • Borders and Bridges: Insularism in the 20th Century French and Hispanic Caribbean (Brudzinski)
  • Francophonie de l'intérieur et polyphonie métisse dans la France post-coloniale (Heyndels)
  • Estudos Culturais do Brasil: Musica e Sociedade (Guzman)
  • Intertextualidad y Reescritura en el Caribe Hispano (Civantos)
  • Literary and Social Authority among 19th-Century Women Writers (Civantos)
  • Latin American Fictions and/as Theory (Manzor)
  • Latin American Theater and Its Communities (Manzor)
  • Contemporary Latin American Narrative (Achugar)
  • Historia Cultural do Brasil (Guzman)
  • Modernismo y Generación del 98 (narrativa) (Grau-Lleveria)
  • La pugna por la inscriptión del amerindio durante los siglos coloniales (Diaz Balsera)
    Latin American Thought (Yudice)


  • Studies in Latin American History: Consumption and the Making of the Modern World (Elena)
  • Afro-Caribbean Religion and the Law (Ramsey)
  • Travel and Tourism in the Americas (Bachin)
  • Atlantic Histories (White)
  • Slavery in the Atlantic World (White)
    Haiti in History (Ramsey)


Recent dissertations in English:

Alfonso-Forero, Ann Marie Theorizing the Postcolonial Female Immigrant: Diaspora and Ethnic Identities in the Fiction of Bharati Mukherjee, Cristina Garcia, Edwidge Danticat, and Jhumpa Lahiri (in progress).

Jacobi, Kara Articulating Trauma: Creating Survival: Trauma and Narration in
20th-Century Ethnic American Women’s Writing (in progress).

Navarrete, Debbie-Ann Ecowomanist Endeavors: Sociopolitical Landscapes in Contemporary Caribbean Women’s Literature (in progress)

Arva, Eugene "The Traumatic Imagination;  Shock Chronotopes and Hyperreality in Magical Realist Writing"  (2006)

Damian, Jessica "The Lucid Silver and the Blazing Ore:  Romantic Women Writers Mine South America, 1740-1855" (2006) Winner of the 2006 Bernard Benstock Dissertation Prize.

Stone, Joshua "American Ethni/Cities:  Subjection and Possiblity in the 20th Century"  (in progress)

Gillota, David “Crude Comedy: Body Humor in Postmodern Literature and Film" (in progress)

Tucker, Amanda "At Home in the World:  Globalism in Modern Irish Writing (2007)

Giovannucci, Perri "The Modernizing Mission:  Literature and Development in North Africa" (2005)

Brooks-Jones, Marjorie "Bahamian Womanspeak:  The Caribbean Connection" (2004)

Erritouni, Ali "Nation-States, Intellectuals and Utopias in Postcolonial Fiction" (2004)

Hyppolite, Joanne "Everybody's Folk:  Representations of Southern Black Culture in Nineteenth Century Ethnography and Literature" (2004)

Layne, Prudence "Towards an Erotics of Hybridity:  Bodies at the Crossroads of a Nation" (2004)

Shaw, Andrea "The Fat Woman's Unruly Political Body" (2004)

Montes, Rafael "Making Places/Haciendo Lugares:  Generational Traumas in Contemporary Cuban-American Literature"  (2003)

Dismont Robinson, Kim "Probing the Wound:  Re-Membering the Traumatic Landscape of Caribbean Literary Histories" (2003)

Morris, Kathryn "Skirting History:  Decolonizing Strategies in Caribbean Women's Literature" (2002)

Page, Kezia "'Kingston 21':  Diaspora, Migranncy and Caribbean Literature"  (2002)

Gercken-Hawkins, Rebecca "Authentic Reservations:  The Rhetorical War for Native American Identity" (2001)

Ink, Lynn "Decolonizing the Tropics:  Gender and American Imperialism in the Pacific and Caribbean" (2001)

McGarrity, Maria  "Washed by the Gulfstream:  the Historic and Geographic Relation of Irish and Caribbean Literature"  (2001)

Monti, Stephen  "'I Circle Questions of Blood':  The Politics and Poetics of Representing AIDS by Writers of African Descent" (2001)

Nester, Deborah "'Gwine By':  Colonial Women's Travel Literature and the West Indian Marketplace" (2001)


Recent conferences:

“Sexuality, Nation, Diaspora” (March 2008), panelists Gayatri Gopinath, Juana Maria Rodriguez, and Rinaldo Walcott.

The Asian Experience in the Caribbean and the Guyanas (November 2007): keynote speakers Walton Look, Willi Chen, Brinda Mehta.

Caribbean Literary Studies & Small Axe Conference: Archaeologies of Black Memory (June 2007): speakers Saidiya Hartman, M. NourbeSe Philip, Krista Thompson, Michael Hanchard, Gordon Rohlehr, Robert Hill, Verene Shepard.

Calypso and the Caribbean Literary Imagination (March 2005); keynote speakers Earl Lovelace, M. NourbeSe Philip, and Gordon Rohlehr.

Screaming Monkeys: Critiques of Asian-American Images (November 2003).  Artists included: Anida Yoeu Esguerra, Sunaima Maira, Pearl Ubungen, and Helen Zia.

Caribbean Currents: Navigating the Web and the Word (March 2003); keynote speaker Kamau Brathwaite.

In addition, video of readings and talks by the dozens of Caribbean writers who participated in the Caribbean Writers Summer Institute at UM in the 1990s can be found at the Caribbean Literary Studies website Writers include Antonio Benitez-Rojo, Kamau Brathwaite, Erna Brodber, Maryse Condé, Fred D’Aguiar, David Dabydeen, Edwidge Danticat, J. Michael Dash, Joan Dayan, George Lamming, Earl Lovelace, and Olive Senior.


Library resources:

Richter library has an outstanding collection of titles in ethnic studies and anglophone literatures in English, especially Caribbean literature.  There are extensive rare print and manuscript resources in Caribbean, Florida, and Latin American studies in the library’s Special Collections Division and in the Cuban Heritage Collection.  Richter digital initiatives of interest to students and scholars in the field include: Anthurium: A Caribbean Studies Journal and the Cuban/Latino Theatre Archive. Index and database resources include: American Slavery: A Composite Autobiography (commonly known as the WPA Slave Narratives); African-American Newspapers: The 19th Century; Ethnic NewsWatch (an interdisciplinary, bilingual—English and Spanish—and comprehensive full text database of the newspapers, magazines and journals of the ethnic, minority and native press); the Handbook of Latin American Studies; The Making of the Modern World, a full text database with thousands of texts in the history of slavery, imperial expansion, and commerce through the 1850s; the Latin American Microform Project (LAMP), with especially strong holdings in Brazil and Haiti.


Faculty from other Departments and Schools

The English Department encourages its graduate students to engage in dialogues with scholars in transnational and ethnic studies from other departments and schools at the University of Miami.  Selected scholars include:

Department of History

  • Edmund Abaka.  African and African-diasporic history, Pan-Africanism.
  • Robin Bachin.  Urban Studies, race and ethnicity. 
  • Richard Godbeer.  Sex and gender in early America.
  • Michael Miller.  Atlantic Studies, maritime history.
  • Kate Ramsey.  Haiti, Caribbean history, Atlantic Studies, Afro-diasporic studies, performance studies.
  • Donald Spivey.  African-American history.
  • Ashli White.  Atlantic Studies; comparative slavery, the Haitian Revolution, early republican U.S. history.

Department of Modern Languages and Literatures

  • Hugo Achugar.  Contemporary Latin American literature and culture
  • Marc Brudzinski.  Francophone and Hispanic Caribbean literature, colonial discourse and postcolonial theory. 
  • Christine Civantos.  Nineteenth-Century Latin American studies, postcolonial theory, orientalism.
  • Steven F. Butterman.  Luso-Brazilian literature and culture, queer theory. 
  • Viviana Díaz Balsera.  Spanish American colonial studies. 
  • Elena Grau-Lleverra. Twentieth-century Spanish and Spanish American literature, Hispanic women writers
  • Tracy Guzmán. Cultural studies and literature in Brazil and the Andes, critical race theory.
  • Lillian Manzor.  Latin American and Latino/a cultures, performance studies, gender studies.
  • Gema Pérez-Sánchez.  Contemporary Spanish Peninsular literature, queer theory. 
  • Vargas, Claret.  Latin American and Brazilian avant-gardes, twentieth-century poetry, indigenismo and indigenous rights activism. 
  • Subha Xavier. Migrant literature, Francophone African literature and culture, postcolonial theory.
  • George Yudice. Cultural policy. globalization and transnational processes, race and ethnicity, contemporary Central America

Department of Geography

  • Jan Nijman.  Comparative urbanism, globalization, world cities and geopolitics, with special interests in South Florida and Mumbai, India. 
  • Ira Sheskin.  Ethnic geography (particularly American Jews).

Department of Sociology

  • Elizabeth Aranda.  Latino Studies, particularly Puerto Rican migration and Latin American immigrants in South Florida. 
  • George Wilson.  Racial and ethnic inequality.

School of Law

  • Anthony V. Alfieri.  Critical race theory.
  • Mario L. Barnes.  Critical race theory.
  • Donna Coker.  Race, poverty and domestic violence.
  • Mary Coombs.  Transgenderism and sexual orientation in the law.
  • Marc Fajer.  Antidiscrimination law, with an emphasis on sexual orientation and housing.
  • Zanita E. Fenton.  Critical race theory; race and gender violence.
  • Elizabeth Iglesias.  LatCrit theory, critical race feminism, Critical race theory.
  • D. Marvin Jones.  Critical race theory; law and the social construction of the black male. 
  • Martha Mahoney.  Critical race theory; social construction of whiteness.
  • Irwin P. Stotzky.  Haiti and human rights.
  • Francisco Valdes.  LatCrit theory, queer legal theory.