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Shanna Salinas

Book that changed your life?Shanna Salinas

Sandra Cisneros's The House in Mango Street. While there have been innumerable books that have had a great impact on me, both professionally and personally, none as much as this one. I first read it as an undergrad and it spoke to me in a way that no book had previously or ever has again. Everything about that book struck me as magical. It still does, actually. It is the book I return to every year. I still get goosebumps when I get to the ending vignette. Never fails. It's the book that convinced me I couldn't do anything other than be a Chicana/o literary scholar, simply because I knew I had to write about it. I've written about it three times now: as an undergraduate, in my honors thesis; as a graduate student, in my dissertation; and, now, as a published essay in a forthcoming collection.


What made you decide to become an English major?

I didn't so much choose as give in to the inevitable. Whenever I talk to advisees about how I chose my major, I simply say, "English just made sense. It felt like home."  I always loved literature. I'd look at the course catalog and want to take every literature course offered. Initially I tried to talk myself into different majors, the so-called more "practical" ones; however, I soon found that, while I liked other disciplines and did well in my courses, nothing excited me or clicked in my brain the way my lit courses did. Ultimately, I decided to stop resisting what I enjoyed and declared my American Literature and Culture major. The best thing I ever did was let go of the idea that my major would decide my future. (As it turns out, my major did eventually help decide my future.)


How did you end up a college prof?

Countless years of school, supportive academic mentors and peers, a steadfast belief in my dissertation project, sheer relentless determination, the ability to take constructive criticism, a willingness to evolve as a scholar and educator, and a lot of luck during a semi-decent job market year.



Shanna Salinas is an Assistant Professor in the English Department at Kalamazoo College, where she teaches 19th, 20th, and 21st century American Literary and Cultural Studies, with an emphasis on American race and ethnicity and Chicana/o literature. She received her B.A. in American Literature and Culture, with a minor in Chicana/o Studies, from UCLA and her M.A. and Ph.D. in English from UC Santa Barbara. She is currently working on converting her dissertation into a manuscript that will examine the co-constitutive relationship between U.S. national identity and Chicana/o racialized identity via the site of the U.S.-Mexico border. Her essay, "Raced Bodies, Corporeal Texts: Narratives of Home and Self in Sandra Cisneros's The House on Mango Street," will be included in the forthcoming collection _Virginia Woolf and 20th-Century Women Writers_ (November 2014).


Courses Taught:

ENGL 109 Introduction to Literary Theory and Research Methods
ENGL 155  Reading the World: Identities, "Rac(e)ing the Border: The U.S.-Mexico Border within the National Imagniary"
ENGL 156  Reading the World: Social Justice, "Chican@ Social Activism"
ENGL 230  U.S. Ethnic Literature
ENGL 245  Electronic, Hypertext, and Multimedia Literature
ENGL 276  Modernism and Postmodernism: U.S. Literature, 1914-Present
ENGL 310  Constructing Blackness
ENGL 323  Chicanx Literature
ENGL 435  Advanced Literary Study: NOLA Divided: Race in the Big Easy"