Joanna O'Connell

My research and teaching has always been oriented around the ways that writing functions to express and create multiple possible affiliations, and the ways that literary and educational institutions are terrains of negotiation and struggle over those possibilities. In the context of Mexican and Carribean studies, I look at ethnic and racial conflict in the context of nationalisms, women's entry into the sphere of cultural production, and the long history of literacy technologies (from precolonial Maya writing to use of emerging digital technologies) in the Americas. I am currently seeking to understand and communicate the impact of emerging social media on the study of Spanish at universities in the U.S.

Educational Background & Specialties

Educational Background

  • Ph.D.: Comparative Literature (Spanish, French, English), University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, 1998.
  • B.A.: Comparative Literature, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, 1979.


  • Latin-American literature and culture
  • issues of colonialism, race and nationalism
  • women's writing
  • feminism and feminist theory
  • Mexico
  • indigenous revitalization movements and writing
  • the Caribbean
  • African and Caribbean writing in French and English
Courses Taught
  • Span 5940: "TransmisiĆ³n de la palabra" from precolonial to digital writing
  • Span 8900-Seminar: Feminist Approaches
  • Span 5528 - Popular Literary Consciousness: 1900-1950
  • Span 5525-Caribbean Literature
  • Span 3222 - Discourses of Nation Building and Modernization in Latin America
  • Span 3972W - Graduation Seminar
  • Span 3512-Latin American Cultures
  • Span 3104W - Analysis and Interpretation of Texts
Research & Professional Activities


  • Mexico-Minnesota Research Collaborative: Institute for Advanced Studies supported research collaborative examining the history and current state of migration and imagination of relations between Mexico and Minnesota.
  • The future of "Spanish departments" in the context of emerging social media: The production of knowledge and the transmission of words through new technologies of writing has a particular history in Latin America: precolonial indigenous literacy and education were suppressed and to some extent replaced by alphabetic writing; emerging digital technologies are transforming our notions of writing, audience, public, literacy and our practices of producing and transmitting knowledge. How will we, in the humanities an language departments, understand and adapt to these realities? how can we historicize these changes?
  • Prospero's Daughter: The Prose of Rosario Castellanos. O'Connell, Joanna, University of Texas Press, 1995.
  • Pre-Columbian Literatures in Mexico. O'Connell, Joanna, 1994.
  • Co-editor of Post-Colonial, Emergent, and Indigenous Feministms, Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 20:4. O'Connell, Joanna, June 1995.