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Ramapo Success Story

“During my tenure at Ramapo I have been moved by our students’ determination to receive a quality college education. Many of our students must work to pay for ever-rising tuition fees and many others are first-generation in college. Yet they forge ahead, undeterred by the innumerable challenges they face. As someone who came to the U.S. as a refugee when I was about to enter college and had to work as a college student, I empathize with my students. I also have been impressed by my colleagues’ strong, ongoing involvement in College affairs, which sets Ramapo apart from other institutions. This exemplary commitment manifests itself in curricular and extra-curricular innovations; a search for best practices in pedagogy; a robust, usually interdisciplinary research agenda tied to teaching; collegial collaboration; and a continuing quest for shared governance. Both students and colleagues have made my years at Ramapo a stimulating, inspiring, and enjoyable experience.

Ramapo’s humanities-oriented instruction and small classes offer the ideal setting for the optimum relationship between faculty and students. I get to know my students well and stay in touch with them years after they graduate. I take pride in their accomplishments, such as pursuing graduate studies in highly regarded universities, securing a coveted or exciting job, raising a family, or traveling the world.

Fostering a keen curiosity about the world is part of what a language and literature professor should excel at. I feel vindicated every time my students take advantage of an opportunity to go abroad—such as a Fulbright scholarship in Spain, a Peace Corps assignment in Ethiopia, an internship in Chile, or graduate studies in Great Britain. Ramapo College has placed a premium on the liberal arts and international studies since its inception. The kind of instruction that is available prepares our students for the challenges they encounter abroad as well as in the United States.

Faculty-student research is another area from which I derive satisfaction. Students have worked with me on translating texts from Spanish into English, a hands-on task with a concrete outcome—the publication of works in translation. Others have transcribed complex interviews in Spanish. One student worked with me in rewriting an academic essay in Spanish in order to make it accessible to the average reader. Given the culturally-inflected texts and their practical uses, these efforts have provided a layer of meaning, enrichment, and nuance to classroom instruction while requiring a different set of skills. I am pleased that I have been given the opportunity to engage in both traditional and innovative pedagogy at this institution, and have also enjoyed the latitude and support to pursue my own scholarly interests. Without this support, it is unlikely that I would have successfully applied for a Fulbright award.”

– Iraida is a Professor of Spanish Language and Literature and first joined Ramapo in 2001. For more information, please visit Iraida’s Faculty Page.

School:
Salameno School of Humanities and Global Studies

Recent Publications

Books:

Let’s Hear Their Voices: Cuban-American Writers of the Second Generation.  Coedited with Eliana S. Rivero.  Forthcoming from SUNY Press.

Impossible Returns: Narratives of the Cuban Diaspora.  Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2015.

Book Chapters and Journal Articles:

“Los niños tienen la palabra: apreciaciones intergeneracionales del exilio argentino y chileno en Cuba”.  La experiencia del exilio y el exilio como experiencia.  Ed. Mariela Cecilia Avila.  Ediciones Universidad Católica Silva Henríquez.  Forthcoming.

“Going Back to Cuba: How the Enclaves of Memory Stimulate Returns and Repatriations.” Caribbean Reflections: Postcolonialism, Migration, and the Arts.  Eds. Anke Birkenmaier and Vivian Halloran.  Forthcoming.

“Entre el ideal de la nación mestiza y la discordia racial: ‘Memories of a Black Cuban Childhood’ y otros textos de Lourdes Casal,” Cuban Studies/Estudios Cubanos 46 (2018): 63-84.

“La intersticial literatura cubanoamericana, acápite inédito de los estudios cubanos”. Temas: Cultura, ideología, sociedad 91-92 (2017): 58-66.   

“La vuelta se repite: representaciones cubanas del retorno en el periodo revolucionario y el postsoviético”, Revista ZAMA (University of Buenos Aires), 7.7 (2015): 43-53. http://revistascientificas.filo.uba.ar/index.php/zama/article/view/2186/1917.

Another version of this essay appeared under the title “Esto no es un emigrado que retorna: sobre la representación del regreso” in Espacio Laical (2016) http://www.espaciolaical.org/contens/44/020_Esto_no_es_un_emigrado_que_retorna.pdf

“The Notion of Volver in Cuban-American Memoirs: Gustavo Pérez Firmat’s Next Year in Cuba as a Case of Mistaken Coordinates.”  South Atlantic Review 77.3-4 (2015): 59-76. https://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-413785868.html

Book Reviews:

On Mette Louise Berg’s Diasporic Generations: Memory, Politics and Nation among Cubans in Spain.  New York: Berghahn Books, 2011.  Oral History Forum d’Histoire Orale, Special Issue on “Generations and Memory: Continuity and Change” 37 (2017).

On Odette Casamayor Cisneros’s Utopía, distopía e ingravidez: reconfiguraciones cosmológicas en la narrativa postsoviética cubana. Madrid: Iberoamericana-Vervuert, 2013.  Letras femeninas XL.1 (2014): 232-234.

Awards and Accomplishments

Received a Fulbright scholarship that will allow Iraida to teach postgraduate courses and conduct research at the Universidad de Chile and the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile in the fall 2019.

Secured funding from the Social Science Research Council to organize a panel for the 2019 Latin American Studies Association Congress.

Member of the Executive Board of Directors of Cubanabooks, an independent press specializing on Cuban women’s writings.

Editorial Advisor of Revista Iberoamericana (Journal of the Instituto Internacional de Literatura Iberoamericana).

Curated the Lourdes Casal dossier published in Cuban Studies/Estudios Cubanos (2018).

Elected as co-chair of the Cuba Section of the Latin American Studies Association for 2016-2017.  Chair of the Elections Committee of the Cuba Section, 2014.

Invited to review submissions to Oxford University Pressthe University of Texas Press, the Children’s Literature Review, the Cuban Research Institute at Florida International University, the Latin American Research Review, Literatura: Teoría, Historia, Crítica (Universidad Nacional de Colombia), and Letras femeninas.

Education

Ph.D., The Graduate School and University Center, City University of New York
M.A., The University of Seville/City University of New York
B.A, Magna Cum Laude, The City College, City University of New York

Classes Known For

Hispanic Caribbean Literature and Pop Culture
Latin New York
Hispanic Women’s Voices and Images
Rewriting Hispanic Identity Constructions