Ralph E. Rodriguez Associate Professor of American Studies, Associate Professor of English

Ralph E. Rodriguez (Ph.D. University of Texas at Austin) is Associate Professor of American Studies and English. He is the author of Brown Gumshoes: Detective Fiction and the Search for Chicana/o Identity (University of Texas Press, 2005; winner of the MLA Best Book Prize in Latina/o and Chicana/o Studies, 2006). He has also published articles on a range of Latina/o authors, critical pedagogy, queer theory, detective fiction, and film. Latina/o literature and culture, aesthetics, graphic novels, cultural theory, and critical race studies constitute his active research and teaching interests.

His projects have received funding from the National Endowment for the Humanites, the Woodrow Wilson and Andrew Mellon Foundations, the Cogut Center for the Humanities, the Rock Ethics Institute at Penn State University, and Oregon State University's Center for the Humanities. He has received teaching awards from the University of Texas, Penn State University, and Brown University. He sits on the Executive Committee of the Chicana/o Division of the Modern Language Association. He is a past member of the editorial boards of the PMLA and Aztlan: A Journal of Chicana/o Studies. He regularly referees for a host of journals in American Studies, literary studies, and film studies.

Brown Affiliations

Research Areas

scholarly work

"On Teaching, Radical Love, and Community." (op-ed) The Brown Daily Herald 4 November 2015.

"I Digress: Reading Chicano Narrative and Manuel Muñoz's 'Monkey Sí'" in New Chicano/a Narratives: History, Nation, and Form in the 21st Century. Eds. William Orchard and Yolanda Padilla (forthcoming University of Pittsburgh Press).

“Changing Sides or, The Assimilation Blues” (review essay). Los Angeles Review of Books. (https://lareviewofbooks.org/review/changing-sides-or-the-assimilation-blues). 6 July 2015.

“In Plain Sight: Reading the Racial Surfaces of Adrian Tomine’s ShortcomingsDrawing New Color Lines: Transnational Asian American Graphic Narratives. Ed. Monica Chiu. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2015: 87-106.

“Chicano Studies and the Need to Not Know” (review essay). American Literary History 22.1 (Spring 2010): 180-190.

"Unearthing the Past in 1972: Literary Antecedents and Cultural Capital." Aztlán: A Journal of Chicano Studies 32.1 (Spring 2007): 205-218

"Race and Ethnicity" The Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory 2nd Edition. Ed. Michael Groden, Martin Kreiswirth, and Imre Szeman. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 2005: 788-793.

Brown Gumshoes: Detective Fiction and the Search for Chicana/o Identity. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2005

"A Poverty of Relations: On Not 'Making Familia from Scratch', But Scratching Familia." Velvet Barrios: Popular Culture and Chicana/o Sexualities. Ed. Alicia Gaspar de Alba. NY: Palgrave, 2003: 75-88.

"Cultural Memory and Chicanidad: Detecting History, Past and Present, in Lucha Corpi's Gloria Damasco Series." Contemporary Literature 43.1 (Spring 2002): 138-170. Reprinted in Contemporary Literary Criticism Vol 205 (CLC 205). Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Group, 2005.

"Brown v. Higher Education: Pedagogy, Cultural Politics, and Latina/o Activism." Beyond the Corporate University. Ed. Henry Giroux. Lanham, MD, 2001: Rowman and Littlefield: 89-107

"Men With Guns: The Story John Sayles Can't Tell." The End of Cinema as We Know It. Ed. Jon Lewis. Syracuse: New York University Press, 2001: 168-175.

"Chicana/o Fiction: From Resistance to Contestation" MELUS: The Journal of the Society for the Study of the Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States 25.2 (Summer 2000): 63-82.

research overview

I am currently writing a new book called "Latina/o Literature Unbound," which puzzles through the question of whether there is such a thing as Latina/o literature. In working through that problematic, the study may very well unbind the writing we have come to know as Latina/o literature from the parameters through which we define and (mis)understand it. Such an unbinding would give us a more robust understanding of the multivocal and polycultural traditions alive in the literature.

research statement

In my critical study of the Chicana/o detective novel, Brown Gumshoes: Detective Fiction and the Search for Chicana/o Identity (2005), I examined the struggles of Chicanas/os with feminism, homosexuality, familia, masculinity, mysticism, the nationalist subject, and U.S.-Mexico border relations. Chicana/o novels register crucial new discourses of identity, politics, and cultural citizenship that cannot be understood apart from the historical instability following the demise of the nationalist politics of the Chicana/o movement of the 1960s and 1970s. In contrast to that time, when Chicanas/os sought a unified Chicano identity in order to effect social change, the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s have seen a disengagement from these nationalist politics and a new trend toward a heterogeneous sense of self. The detective novel and its traditional focus on questions of knowledge and identity turned out to be the perfect medium in which to examine this new self.

My current book project and my recent critical essays demonstrate a continued interest in aesthetics, textual politcs, and literary form.

funded research

Cogut Center for the Humanities Faculty Fellow, Fall 2014

Rock Ethics Institute Grant for Latina/o Ethics Interest Group, 2004 ($2,000)

Woodrow Wilson/Andrew W. Mellon Career Enhancement Fellowship, 2002-2003 ($30,000)

Oregon State University Center for the Humanities Fellow, 1998-1999

Summer Mellon Fellowship, 1996

National Endowment for the Humanities Younger Scholar, 1991