Department of Spanish & Portuguese GAANN Graduate Fellowship Recipients

The Department of Spanish & Portuguese received a four-year Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) grant from the U.S. Department of Education to support graduate student fellowships in 2016. Five PhD students in the department were awarded GAANN fellowships for the 2017 - 2018 academic year.

Samari Batres received an MA from the University of California, Irvine in Spanish and Portuguese and a BA from the University of Redlands in Spanish and Religious Studies. She is interested in how ironic world views expressed in 20th century Latin American poetry challenge the established metanarratives that had previously given meaning to human existence. Through her work, she will explore the tensions that arise out of the destabilizing effect that this kind of poetry has and how this tension becomes a productive way to engage with ideas and concepts that were previously unquestionable.

Araceli Calderón is the first member of her family to pursue a doctoral degree. She received her first Masters degree in Education in 2005 from National University where she completed her dissertation entitled Cooperative Learning in the Classroom. She completed a second Masters degree in Spanish at California State University, Fullerton in 2011. Currently, she is a fourth year Ph.D. student in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University California, Irvine where she has completed a Latin American Studies Emphasis and Visual Studies Emphasis. Araceli was awarded the UC-Mexus Dissertation Grant for her project “Representations of Ideologies of Motherhood during the Mexican Revolution in Film and Literature.” Her research interests explore how artistic representations of the Mexican Revolution 1910-1920 redefined our ideas of motherhood, mothering subjects, and spaces designated for maternal practices. Representations of intimate maternal moments were altered and practiced in public spaces creating alternate modes of mothering, she calls this mothering in movement.

Christina García received an MA from New York University in Humanities and Social Thought and a BA from Florida International University in English and Art History. Her interest in materiality and writing as an inoperative practice has brought her to focus on Hispanophone Caribbean neo-vanguard texts and visual culture. She examines the ethico-political implications of certain modes of aesthetics, specifically, an aesthetics of impenetrability and excess in relation to an ethics of non-identitarian community. Her work also examines friendship and hospitality as minor and extra-institutional political practices in Caribbean cultural production.

Fernando G. Hernandez:  I studied literature at the Universidad de Guadalajara (Mexico) and completed my B.A. in Spanish at Whittier College. My research interests focus on 20th and 21st century Latin American poetry and poetics, particularly their relationship and conceptualization vis-à-vis society.  This perspective necessarily engages critical theory as well as historical contexts and current events in Latin America. As such, I completed the Latin America Studies and the Critical Theory seminars. The focus of my dissertation centers on poetry that in different ways disturbs the binary commitment—autonomy and, in doing so, asks us to reconsider notions of aesthetics, ethics and politics. The first chapter of my dissertation is dedicated to the Argentinean poet Roberto Juarroz, the second to the Chilean poet Raúl Zurita and the third to very recent Mexican poetry that takes on the political, social and often violent strife of its historical context.  Some of the poets included in this third section are María Rivera, Luis Felipe Fabre, Sara Uribe, Cristina Rivera Garza and Román Luján. In 2016, I received the Humanities Commons Research Travel Grant to do archival research at the Biblioteca Nacional in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I have also worked for many years as a healthcare interpreter, translator and instructor, maintaining an interest in translation theory and practice.
Leopoldo Peña is a Mexican-immigrant, photographer and Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at University of California, Irvine. Currently, he is working on his dissertation project, which focuses on photography and indigenismo within the twentieth century Mexican avant-garde. He is also doing research on Zapotec literary production and is working on a public scholarship project that combines photography and literature as a way of doing socially-engaged humanities work.

Photo, from left to right: Leopoldo Peña, Samari Batres, Araceli Calderon, Fernando Hernandez, Christina Garcia.