back to news Aug. 8, 2017

Laura Podalsky Named Chair of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese

Laura Podalsky, professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese who specializes in Latin American film and cultural studies, has been named chair of the department, effective Aug. 1, 2017. Her research involves the relationship between Latin American culture, politics and socio-historical formations, urban culture and youth cultures. 

"I'm delighted to take over as chair,” she said. “We have an excellent department with multiple strengths, both in terms of research and teaching. Our professors have developed pioneering research on, among other things, performative practices in Latin America in the colonial period and the present day; language contact situations in Latin America, Spain and in the U.S.; wisdom literature in Medieval Spain; and graphic novels by Latinx authors.”

She said this level of scholarship influences what students see in their classes, from general education courses to advanced graduate seminars. She said she looks forward to working with colleagues to bolster the undergraduate programs and to refine strategies for helping graduate students navigate a challenging job market.

Podalsky’s first book, Specular City: Transforming Culture, Consumption, and Space in Buenos Aires, 1955-1973 (Temple University Press, 2004), was an interdisciplinary, cultural studies project. Through the analysis of new films, literature, magazines, advertising, architecture and car culture, Specular City discusses the material and discursive transformation of the Argentine capital in relation to contemporary struggles between middle-class and working-class sectors following the first Peronist administration.  

She also is the author of The Politics of Affect and Emotion in Contemporary Latin American Cinema: Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, and Mexico (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011) and is working on a monographic study of youth, modernity and film, comparing Argentina and Mexico in the 1950s-1960s and in the 1990s-present.

Podalsky is an associate editor of the Journal of Spanish and Latin American Cinemas (Intellect).