Meet the Staff
María DeGuzmán is Professor of English & Comparative Literature and founding Director of Latina/o Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is the author of two books: Spain’s Long Shadow: The Black Legend, Off-Whiteness, and Anglo-American Empire (University of Minnesota Press, August 2005), Buenas Noches, American Culture: Latina/o Aesthetics of Night (Indiana University Press, June 2012), and Understanding John Rechy (forthcoming August 2019 from the University of South Carolina Press). She has published many articles on Latina/o cultural production. She writes and teaches about relationships between literature and various kinds of photographic practice. Recently, she has published articles on Latina/o poetry and astronomy and on LatinX botanical epistemologies. She is currently at work on a book about LatinX environmentalisms.
She is also a conceptual photographer who produces photos and photo-text work, both solo and in collaboration with colleagues and friends. She has published essays and photo-stories involving her photography. Her images have been chosen as the cover art for books by Cuban American writer Cristina García and the poet Glenn Sheldon and for books by academic scholars. As Camera Query (solo and in collaboration with others) and as SPIR: Conceptual Photography (with Jill H. Casid), she has shown in the Carrack Gallery, the Pleiades Gallery, and Golden Belt Art Studios in Durham, 523 East Franklin Street in Chapel Hill, the Orange County Historical Museum in Hillsborough, and the Joyner Library at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina; Salisbury University Art Gallery in Salisbury, Maryland; the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston; the Watershed Media Centre in Bristol, England; Pulse Art Gallery in New York City; the Center for Exploratory and Perceptual Art (CEPA Gallery) in Buffalo, New York; and El Progreso Gallery in Madrid, Spain. She has worked most notably with co-authors and co-producers, Jill H. Casid and Carisa R. Showden on combinations of text and image. She has collaborated as music composer with visual artist and lyricist Janet Cooling. Most recently, she has been composing original music and lyrics of her own as well as working on her own photo & text stories.
María J. Durán is a PhD Candidate in the Department of English and Comparative Literature and Graduate Assistant for the UNC Latina/o Studies Program. Her dissertation examines grief and public mourning in the works of Chicana/o writers, with a focus on drama. The central question she asks is, to what extent can practices of mourning be understood as tools of political resistance?
Durán has served as a guest blogger for UNC’s Institute for the Study of the Americas (ISA), and she has published in the leading Chicana/o Studies Journal, Aztlán. She has taught ENGL 105, ENGL 105i Business, ENGL 129, ENGL 144, WGST 233, ENGL 364. As a theatre artist, Durán co-directed a sold-out production of In the Heights (Spring 2017), staged at The ArtsCenter in Carrboro, NC. She was invited to share her theatre work at the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures (NALAC) Regional Arts Training in Charlotte, NC (Summer 2017). Last Spring, she directed a staged reading of Just Like Us, a play about undocumented youth by Karen Zacarías (March 2018). She currently serves on the PlayMakers Repertory Company Advisory Council.
Durán is an advocate for underrepresented minority education. She has worked in various capacities with The Moore Undergraduate Research Apprentice Program (MURAP) at UNC-Chapel Hill to assist talented underrepresented undergraduate students from diverse backgrounds in their pursuit of doctoral degrees. In Summer 2015, she received the UNC Graduate School’s Richard Bland Fellowship and interned with Juntos, a North Carolina State University cooperative extension program that helps Latinx students achieve higher education. She is also very involved with the Initiative for Minority Excellence (IME) and serves on the advisory board for the Carolina Grad Student F1RSTS. In her spare time, Durán enjoys hot yoga, traveling, visiting coffeeshops, and spending time with her three pet bunnies. Click here to read about Durán’s decision to pursue graduate studies and what advice she has for prospective graduate students.
Geovani Ramírez is a PhD candidate in the English and Comparative Literature Department at UNC Chapel Hill where he specializes in Multiethnic and Latinx literatures. His dissertation explores the ways Mexican-heritage women writers use the topic of labor in their works to interrogate and re-shape notions of class, race, gender, culture, (trans)national identities, and citizenship.
Geovani joined the UNC Latina/o Studies Program as a Graduate Assistant in the spring of 2019, and he has also been a Graduate Student Fellow at the UNC Center for Faculty Excellence since the fall of 2019. While at UNC, Geovani has enjoyed working with UNC students in various capacities, including as sole instructor for ENGL 105 Composition and Rhetoric, ENGL 105i Social Sciences, ENGL 129 Cultural Diversity and Literature, WGST 233 Introduction to Latina Literature, and ENGL144 Popular Genres. Geovani has also been a graduate research consultant for WMST 465 Gender, Immigration, and Labor and ENGL 364 Introduction to Latinx Studies, an ENGL 105 instructor for the UNC Summer Bridge Program, and an assistant writing coordinator for the Moore Undergraduate Research Apprentice Program, which he will be rejoining in the summer of 2019. From fall 2014 to spring 2018, Geovani worked as a writing coach at the UNC Writing Center where he coached undergraduate and graduate students from all disciplines on a wide range of writing genres and projects. Geovani loves sharing literature and cultural productions with the general public. He has enjoyed giving talks for the Ackland Art Museum and Carolina Performing Arts Center, and he has been an invited panelist for the Playmakers Repertory Company and the UNC-Chapel Hill Department of Art and Art History. He was also a guest speaker on the Aaron Keck Show during an “Oh the Humanities” segment with Max Owre (WCHL 97.9 The Hill).
When he isn’t teaching, researching, or writing, Geovani likes to paint, sketch, and write fiction. He loves music and dancing to his favorite band, The Felice Brothers, with his spouse, Kyra, and his two children Milo (6) and Camila (3). Geovani loves the outdoors, particularly hiking and camping. He delights in natural wonders, and he enjoys hearing leaves rustle in the wind, watching squirrels run up and down trees, and observing bees pollinating flowers.