Olga Herrera  portrait

Olga Herrera

Assistant Professor of English
Degree
M.A., Ph.D., University of Texas at Austin
B.A., DePaul University
At St. Thomas since 2009
Office
JRC 357
Hours
(Fall 2016) M/W 11:00am-12:00pm; also by appointment
Phone
(651) 962-5613

My research examines the literary making of Chicago as a mythic place of work and opportunity for migrants and immigrants alike. In particular, I focus on how Chicago Latino and other writers of color have critiqued the image of the "City of Big Shoulders" in order to ask how race, class, and gender can affect one's access to work and urban experience. I am also interested in urban literature more generally and the construction of space, place, and community in fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. In my teaching and research, I enjoy discussing film and pop culture, with a focus on representations of race and gender.

Fall 2016 Courses

Fall 2016 Courses
Course - Section Title Days Time Location
ENGL 201 - W05 City Lights: Urban Experience M - W - F - - 0935 - 1040 JRC 301
CRN: 43421 4 Credit Hours Instructor: Olga L. Herrera This course explores urban experience through the perspective of writers working in fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry. It will focus on the way writers in those three genres use language and literary devices to address the life and landscape of the city. Although most of the writing done in this class will be analytical, we will also look at each of the three genres from a user's perspective, using some of the tools of fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry to make our own sense of the urban environment. Likely authors to be examined include Carl Sandburg, Edith Wharton, Nelson Algren, Sandra Cisneros, Jamaal May, Lon Otto, James Baldwin, Kao Kalia Yang, and Jonathan Franzen. The writing load for this course is a minimum of 15 pages of formal revised writing. This course satisfies the Writing Across the Curriculum Writing Intensive requirement.

Schedule Details

Location Time Day(s)
ENGL 203 - W08 Your Utopia/My Dystopia M - W - F - - 1335 - 1440 JRC 227
CRN: 42456 4 Credit Hours Instructor: Olga L. Herrera What¹s your idea of a perfect world? How would it be different from your friends¹ ideas? Some of our greatest stories have taken up our dreams of utopia and imagined the way competing needs and desires distort those dreams, producing a dystopian reality. In this class, we will discuss literary and cinematic work that revolves around notions of power and the way societies get shaped to privilege power even when the goal is to create a living situation that is equitable to everyone. Sometimes dystopias result from attempts to hoard power; sometimes they result from efforts to create utopias. Is it possible that utopias are never as good as intended? Maybe, as Thomas More¹s UTOPIA suggests, they don't really exist at all except as ideals in the mind of people with power. Possible texts include THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins; BATTLE ROYALE: THE NOVEL by Koushon Takami; NEVER LET ME GO by Kazuo Ishiguro; V FOR VENDETTA by Alan Moore and David Lloyd; THE WATER KNIFE by Paolo Bacigalupi; PARABLE OF THE SOWER by Octavia Butler; HUM by Jamaal May; and the films BLADE RUNNER and V FOR VENDETTA. The writing load for this course is a minimum of 15 pages of formal revised writing. This course satisfies the Writing Across the Curriculum Writing Intensive requirement.

Schedule Details

Location Time Day(s)

J-Term 2017 Courses

J-Term 2017 Courses
Course - Section Title Days Time Location
ENGL 217 - 01 Multicultural Literature - T W R F - - 0900 - 1200 OEC 210
CRN: 10161 4 Credit Hours Instructor: Olga L. Herrera What does it mean to be labeled an African American dramatist? A Latino/a poet? A transgender novelist? An Asian American essayist? A Native American environmental writer? How do the varied experiences and backgrounds of authors writing from diverse subject positions inform, mark, and/or transform their writing? How do the works of these writers fit into, conflict with, actively resist, or even redefine the American Literary canon as it has been traditionally understood? These questions and more will be explored in a chronological framework through extensive reading of literature from: a) American communities of color; b) postcolonial peoples; c) immigrant and/or diasporic peoples; or d) LGBTQ communities. This course will focus on the literary and cultural texts of one or more of these groups with an emphasis on the cultural, political, and historical contexts that surround them. This course fulfills the Historical Perspectives requirement in the English major, and the Human Diversity Requirement in the Core Curriculum. Prerequisites: ENGL 201, 202, 203, or 204.

Schedule Details

Location Time Day(s)

Spring 2017 Courses

Spring 2017 Courses
Course - Section Title Days Time Location
ENGL 204 - W02 Literacy in Contemp Society M - W - F - - 0935 - 1040 JRC 301
CRN: 22160 4 Credit Hours Instructor: Olga L. Herrera Social media, texting, and instant messaging: these are all examples of 21st-century technology that is changing the way we read and write. Instead of declaring the death of the book, we will consider how print and digital literacy converge in a participatory culture that produces creative work, encourages collaboration, and shapes the flow of information. Our approach to what constitutes a "text" will be flexible and may include blogging, texting, video-making, wikis, etc. The writing load for this course is a minimum of 15 pages of formal revised writing. This course satisfies the Writing Across the Curriculum Writing Intensive requirement.

Schedule Details

Location Time Day(s)
ENGL 204 - W04 Literacy in Contemp Society M - W - F - - 1055 - 1200 JRC 301
CRN: 22163 4 Credit Hours Instructor: Olga L. Herrera Social media, texting, and instant messaging: these are all examples of 21st-century technology that is changing the way we read and write. Instead of declaring the death of the book, we will consider how print and digital literacy converge in a participatory culture that produces creative work, encourages collaboration, and shapes the flow of information. Our approach to what constitutes a "text" will be flexible and may include blogging, texting, video-making, wikis, etc. The writing load for this course is a minimum of 15 pages of formal revised writing. This course satisfies the Writing Across the Curriculum Writing Intensive requirement.

Schedule Details

Location Time Day(s)
ENGL 337 - 01 Latina/Latino Literature - T - R - - - 1330 - 1510 OEC 203
CRN: 21873 4 Credit Hours Instructor: Olga L. Herrera Latinos/as, both as a topic for debate and as a voting block, made major headlines during the recent election season. However, the richness of Latino/a culture, language, and experience went undiscussed in most stories. In reality, Latinos are as diverse a group as any major urban population--racially, ethnically, culturally, linguistically and nationally. In this class, we will read contemporary fiction, nonfiction, drama, and poetry by Latino/a authors that grapples with the multifaceted reality of Latino experience in the United States. As we read these texts, we will ask how authors attempt to define, negotiate, and contest American identity, and how these texts struggle with the relationship of Latinos to the nation in the context of a history of U.S. imperialism. Possible authors to be discussed include Junot Diaz, Ana Menendez, Luis Alberto Urrea, Cristina Garcia, Julia Alvarez, Daniel Alarcon, Sandra Cisneros, Ana Castillo, Achy Obejas, Luis J. Rodriguez, Martin Espada, Josefina Lopez, and Ernesto Quinonez. Texts will be in English, with the possibility of occasional Spanish usage by individual authors. This course fulfills the Human Diversity requirement of the core curriculum and the Diversity distribution requirement for English majors. For English majors who started at St. Thomas in Fall 2015 or later, this course also satisfies the Context and Convergences distribution requirement. Prerequisite: ENGL 201, 202, 203, or 204.

Schedule Details

Location Time Day(s)