Deborah Paredez

Associate FacultyPh.D., 2002, Interdisciplinary
Theatre, Northwestern University

Deborah Paredez



Deborah Paredez (Ph.D., Northwestern University) is a poet and scholar who teaches courses about race and performance in the Department of Theatre, Department of African Diaspora Studies, and the Center for Mexican American Studies. She is the author of Selenidad: Selena, Latinos, and the Performance of Memory (Duke University Press 2009), winner of the 2010 Latino Studies Book Award Honorable Mention sponsored by the Latin American Studies Association. Her articles include: “Remembering Selena, Re-membering Latinidad,” (Theatre Journal 2002), “Becoming Selena, Becoming Latina” (Women and Migration in the US-Mexico Borderlands, Duke University Press 2007), and “All About My (Absent) Mother: Latina Aspirations in Real Women Have Curves and Ugly Betty” (Beyond El Barrio: Everyday Life in Latina/o America (NYU Press 2010). Her recent research explores the work of Black and Latina divas; her current articles in process include “'Queer for Uncle Sam': Anita's Diva Citizenship in West Side Story” and “Keeping Diva Time with Ms. Jomama Jones.” She is the recipient of a 2008-09 AAUW Postdoctoral Fellowship.

She is also the author of the poetry collection, This Side of Skin (Wings Press, 2002), recipient of the Alfredo Cisneros del Moral Foundation Writing Award founded by Sandra Cisneros. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Daughters of the Fifth Sun: A Collection of U.S. Latina Fiction and Poetry (Putnam, 1995), This Promiscuous Light (Wings Press, 1996), Floricanto Sí! A Collection of Latina Poetry (Penguin, 1998), The Wind Shifts: New Latino Poetry (University of Arizona Press, 2007) and Mandorla: Writing from the Americas (2011). She is currently at work on her second poetry volume, After the Light. Beyond the university, Deborah has taught writing workshops with young people of color in a range of venues and is a founding member of CantoMundo, a national organization dedicated to fostering Latina/o poets and poetry.

Deborah has held a number of administrative posts including the Director of Arts and Community Engagement (2007-2010) and Associate Director of the Center for Mexican American Studies (2009-2010). She is currently serving as the Interim Director of the Center for Mexican American Studies.



WGS 345 • Poetry/Performance As Witness

47360 • Spring 2013
Meets MW 300pm-430pm GAR 3.116
(also listed as E 370W)

Instructor:  Paredez, D            Areas:  V / G

Unique #:  35640            Flags:  Cultural diversity

Semester:  Spring 2013            Restrictions:  n/a

Cross-lists:  WGS 345            Computer Instruction:  No

Prerequisites: Nine semester hours of coursework in English or rhetoric and writing.

Description: What does it mean to bear witness? How, when, and why do acts of witness become feminist acts? This course examines selected works by 20th and 21st century U.S. poets and performers whose works can be classified as feminist acts of witness. The points of view of the works we will study include: 1) autobiography; 2) persona or "characters" (mythic or everyday); and 3) reportage (author/performer/dramatist as reporter who remains just outside the frame). Throughout the semester, students will engage the questions: What particular insights or affects arise as a result of the artist's chosen point of view? How are prevailing concepts of "witnessing" illuminated or challenged by these works? What makes poetry or performance especially suited to the act of bearing witness?

Preliminary List of Readings [subject to additions and deletions]:

The Feminist Press Special Issue, "Witness"

Alicia Partnoy, The Little School

Gloria Anzaldúa, selections from Borderlands/La Frontera

Carmelita Tropicana, Milk of Amnesia

Suheir Hammad, selections from Born Palestinian, Born Black

Carolyn Forsche, "The Colonel"

Valerie Martinez, Each and Her

Naomi Wallace, Slaughter City

Marie Howe, What the Living Do

Linda McCarriston, Eva-Mary

Natasha Trethewey, selected poems

Paula Vogel, How I Learned to Drive

Lucille Clifton, "Shapeshifter Poems"

Robbie McCauley, Sally's Rape

Sharon Olds, selected poems

Rita Dove, "On the Bus with Rosa Parks"

Patricia Smith, Blood Dazzler

Rena Fraden, Imagining Medea: Rhodessa Jones and Theater for Incarcerated Women

Sara Warner, "The Medea Project: Mythic Theater for Incarcerated Women"

Preliminary Requirements & Grading: 25% Creative Response Project; 25% Critical Response Paper; 20% Class Participation; 30% Final Project.

Awards & Honors

Awards & Honors

  • National Association of Chicana/o Studies Book Award Honorable Mention for Selenidad
  • Latin American Studies Association Latina/o Studies Book Award Honorable Mention for Selenidad
  • 2008-9 American Association of University Women Postdoctoral Fellowship
  • 2002 Alfredo Cisneros del Moral Foundation Award for This Side of Skin


Other Departmental and Center Affiliations

  • Department of African and African Diaspora Studies
  • Center for Mexican American Studies
  • Center for Women and Gender Studies

  • Center for Women's and Gender Studies

    University of Texas at Austin
    Burdine Hall 536
    2505 University Avenue, A4900
    Austin, Texas 78712