Hispanic Studies welcomes Dr Andrea Gaytán Cuesta, who recently (re)joined the W&M community as a professor in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures. We interviewed Dr. Gaytán Cuesta about her first semester back with us!
What is the focus of your research? What projects are you working on right now?
In my research, I explore three versions of apocalyptic imaginaries (the end of the world) in Latin America: Eco-apocalypse, Socio-apocalypse and Techno-apocalypse. My research argues that representations of the end of the world in the Latin American city such as chronicle, short story, poetry, theatre, comics and film are not only unveiling and prophetic of a disastrous condition, but perform acts of resistance against neoliberal policies imposed from the 1980’s to the current days. Thus, an earthquake can unmask Mexican corruption, zombies can be depicted as heroes and warrior citizens (instead of monsters and invaders), and the destruction or glitch in a movie can break us from technological dependency.
Currently, I am both finishing my dissertation and an article for a publication on Mexican Zombies, particularly the figures of Aztec Cannibals and Narcozombies. I am passionate about my research, which is also fun!
How your first few weeks have been at William & Mary?
My first weeks were full of excitement and joy, knowing that I am coming back to a place that I love so much. I was longing for the great conversations and environment of William & Mary, and walking through Colonial Williamsburg and the campus brought back many memories of when I worked as a Language House Tutor at La Casa Hispánica. I have reconnected with old friends and met new faculty that are also excited for this new adventure. Although seven years have passed since I taught here for the second time, the good energies and intelligence—typical of of William & Mary students—remain the same, but with new context, technology and ways of socialization
What are you teaching this year?
I am teaching a course on Latin American Cinema called “Cuerpos que cruzan: Fronteras en el cine latinoamericano del siglo XXI” [Crossing Bodies: Borders in Latin American Cinema of the XXIst Century] where we approach different contemporary films through the lens of Border and Embodiment theory. Borders can be crossed not only geographically but also metaphorically, and while reading the body as a text and the film as the skin of this text, we approach the body as affected by the movies, when we sense fear, disgust, thrill, joy, sorrow. Through different genres, mostly body genres as melodrama and horror, but also documentaries, science fiction and indigenous cinema, we try to draw a map of what constitutes the map of contemporary Latin-American cinema and what are the voices of the current representatives of filmmakers in the region. We have analyzed different movies that talk about cyborgs, migration, zombies, ghosts and in general, the Latin-America youth. I am very proud of this course, where the students have actually submitted abstracts for the conference of the Northeastern Modern Languages Association, to take place in Boston, next year. This is a great opportunity for them to experience life as scholars and to show their work to an international community of specialists.
The second course I am teaching is Cross-Cultural Perspectives In(Ex)clusión: Buscando terreno común en las culturas hispánicas [In(Ex)clusion: Looking for common ground in Hispanic Cultures). This is a 207 course inspired by the fabulous work of Doris Sommer in “The Work of Art in the World: Civic Agency and Public Humanities”, that includes examples and the roles of cultural agents in Latin America in changing the world. We explore readings of literature, comics, and films related with issues as disabilities, social exclusion and discrimination, illness, race, ethnicity gender, and how artistic interventions improves the relationships in Latin America.
What classes will you be teaching next semester?
I will be teaching a course on Literary Criticism (HISP 208), that combines literature, cinema and music, and I will be teaching an Intermediate Language course of Spanish (HISP 203). I look forward to working more with the community and doing cultural activities that integrate the language-learning environment and interaction with immigrant population of Latin America in Williamsburg.
What would be your dream class to teach and why?
A class that would focus on my expertise, Apocalyptic Imagination in Latin America: Narratives of Destruction and the End of the World, would be a topic that I will love teaching in the future, probably next year. I am also interested in teaching a class focused on Zombies, on digital destruction and experimental cinema, videogames, ecocriticism and lately I have been thinking about a class in documentaries and music, particularly Rockumentaries in Latin America and Spain, as well as videoclip industry (reggaeton, cumbia and other type of music).