Odile Cisneros, PhD
Professor, Faculty of Arts - Modern Languages and Cultural Studies Dept
Area of Study / Keywords
Language & Literature; Translation; Comparative Literature; Brazilian Literature; Mexican Literature; Spanish; Portuguese; Ecocriticism; Ecopoetry
I was born and raised in Mexico and received my BA (magna cum laude) with Departmental Honors in Philosophy and a Major in Mathematics from Wellesley College, in Wellesley, Massachusetts, in 1991. From there I went on to live in Europe for several years, mainly Prague, where I taught languages and co-managed a trading company, and briefly in Italy and Portugal. In 1997 I moved to New York to pursue a PhD in Hispanic Literatures at New York University. I received my doctorate in 2003, with a thesis on the question of nationalism in the Mexican and Brazilian avant-garde movements. I was hired by the University of Alberta in 2003, and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2009.
Among my personal interests are cooking and capoeira (Brazilian martial arts).
A multilingual comparatist and translator, I have published on the historical and postwar literary avant-gardes, Latin American poetry (Mexico and Brazil), and literary translation. Recent research focuses on ecopoetics and ecocriticism. My work has been funded by numerous grants. I have earned teaching distinctions, mentored Canadian and international students, and worked with many community partners. I have served the profession in diverse capacities and leadership positions and edit the scholarly journal Revista Canadiense de Estudios Hispánicos. Recent international engagement includes a visiting professorship and research collaboration with scholars at UFSC in Florianópolis, Brazil.
AREAS OF SPECIALIZATION
•Latin American Historical Avant-gardes & Comparative Modernisms
•Modern and Contemporary Brazilian and Mexican Poetry and Literature
•Literary Translation (Theory and Practice)
•Ecocriticism and Environmental Humanities
RESEARCH FUNDING (MAJOR GRANTS)
- 2022-2025: SSHRC Aid to Scholarly Journals: Revista Canadiense de Estudios Hispánicos: $88,537; PI
- 2021-2024: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), Insight Grant; Title: “Haroldo de Campos: Innovative Poetics for a Plural World”; $80,278; PI
- 2019-2022: SSHRC Aid to Scholarly Journals: Revista Canadiense de Estudios Hispánicos: $90,000; PI
- 2018-2021: SSHRC Partnership Engage Grant: Title: “Empowering Communities through Translation: The Case of the Newcomer’s Guide to Edmonton”; $24,959; PI, with co-investigators Sathya Rao and Ann De León
- 2016-2019: SSHRC Insight Development Grant. Title: “ecopoesia.com: An Online Resource on Environment and Poetry in Latin America”; $45,964; PI
- Total (2016-2025): $329,815
Refereed Articles in National and International Journals:
- “Julio Plaza e Héctor Olea. O Brasil concreto de dentro e de fora.” [Julio Plaza and Héctor Olea: Concrete Brazil from the Inside and Out.] Revista da Anpoll 52.3 Special Issue: Augusto de Campos (2021): 85-102. https://doi.org/10.18309/ranpoll.v52i3.1672
- “Haroldo de Campos’s ‘planetary music for mortal ears’: A Latin American Postmodern Global Poetics” Journal of Lusophone Studies 6.1 Special Dossier: Thinking World Literature from Lusophone Perspectives (Spring 2021): 48-66. https://jls.apsa.us/index.php/jls/article/view/424/420
- “The Newcomer’s Guide to Edmonton and Community Translation: Materially and Culturally Situated Practices.” With Ann De León. TTR: Traduction, terminologie, rédaction 33.2 (2020): 95-123. https://doi.org/10.7202/1077713ar
- “O último sopro de Clarice: Um sopro de vida como ars poetica.” Revista da Anpoll 51 (Special Issue: Clarice Lispector) (2020): 83-94. https://doi.org/10.18309/anp.v51iesp.1524
- “Augusto de Campos’s Outro: The Limits of Authorship and the Limits of Legibility.” Journal of Lusophone Studies 5.1 (Spring 2020): 38-63. https://jls.apsa.us/index.php/jls/article/view/371
Refereed Chapters in Books:
- “Divergence and Convergence: Avant-Garde Poetics in Twentieth-Century Spanish America and Brazil (1950-1980).” Latin American Literature in Transition: 1930-1980. Eds. Amanda Holmes and Parvathi Kumaraswami. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2022. 290-305.
- “Uma viagem à origem da linguagem: Início, percurso e poliglotismo em galáxias de Haroldo de Campos.” [A Journey to the Origins of Language: Beginnings, Itinerary and Multilingualism in galáxias by Haroldo de Campos.] Poesia-Crítica-Tradução: Haroldo de Campos e a educação dos sentidos. Eds. Eduardo Jorge De Oliveira and Kenneth David Jackson. Berlin: Peter Lang Verlag, 2022. 269-82.
- “Disney’s Success in Latin America: A Case of Translation.” Tradução, Comparatismo e Estudos Interartes. Eds. Camilotti, Camila Paula et. al. Campinas, Brazil: Editora Pontes, 2022. 103-26.
- “The Poetry of Garbage in Contemporary Brazilian Culture.” Literature Beyond the Human: Post-Anthropocentric Brazil. Eds. Luca Bacchini and Victoria Saramago. New York: Routledge, 2023. 195-213. DOI: 10.4324/9781003243991-16.
- “Translation and Radical Poetics: The Case of Octavio Paz and the Noigandres.” Transpoetic Exchange: Haroldo de Campos, Octavio Paz and Other Multiversal Dialogues. Eds. Tom Winterbottom and Marília Librandi Rocha. Lewisburg: Bucknell University Press, 2020. 73-83.
- “Concrete North America: Some Questions of Reception.” Concrete Poetry: Translation & Transmission. Eds. John Corbett and Ting Huang. New York: Routledge, 2020. 168-83.
- “Desafios e Oportunidades na Tradução Inglesa das Galáxias de Haroldo de Campos.” [Challenges and Opportunities in the English Translation of Galáxias by Haroldo de Campos.] Haroldo de Campos Tradutor e Traduzido. Eds. Andréia Guerini, Walter Costa, e Simone Homem de Melo. São Paulo: Perspectiva, 2019. 241-52.
- “Can Literature Save the Planet: Lessons from Latin America.” Foreign Language Teaching and the Environment: Theory, Curricula, Institutional Structures. Ed. Charlotte Melin. New York: The Modern Language Association of America, 2019. 95-113.
AWARDS AND HONOURS
•2017: Rutherford Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching
•2016: Faculty of Arts Undergraduate Student Teaching Award
•2015: Faculty of Arts Undergraduate Student Teaching Award Nominee
•2008: Provost’s Award for Early Achievement of Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Nominee
Undergraduate Courses taught at the University of Alberta:
- MLCS 210: Introduction to Cultural Studies: Language(s) of Culture
- SPAN 323: Latin American Literature and Environment
- SPAN 335: The Spanish Caribbean
- SPAN 341: The “Roaring Twenties” in Transatlantic Perspective
- SPAN 342: Urban Poetics: The City and Modernity in the Spanish American Avant-gardes
- SPAN 405: Exercises in Translation: Spanish to English
- SPAN 406: Exercises in Translation: English to Spanish
- LA ST 205: Introduction to Latin American Studies: Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean
- LA ST 399: Performing Brazil: Introduction to Brazilian Culture through Performance
- LA ST 412: From Modernism to Tropicalism: (Post)Modernity in Brazilian Culture
- LA ST 499/C LIT 497: Latin American Culture and the Environment
- C LIT 102: World Literature II: Seventeenth Century to Contemporary
- C LIT 243: Fairy Tales & Folktales
- C LIT 497: World Literature and the Environment
- C LIT 460: Fundamentals of Comparative Literature
- C LIT 512: History of Literary Theory II
- SPAN 538: Nationalizing the Modern-Tensions in the Latin American Avant-gardes: Literature and the Arts
- C LIT 501: Studies in World Literature I
- C LIT 508: Selected Topics in Critical and Cultural Theory (From Aristotle to Cyborgs and Dogs)
- C LIT 507: Contemporary Currents in Critical and Cultural Theory
- SPAN 535: Topics in Hispanic Culture: Visions of Post-Revolutionary Mexico
- SPAN 535: Topics in Hispanic Culture: Nationalizing the Modern-Tensions in the Latin American Avant-gardes
- C LIT 497: Fundamentals of Comparative Literature/ Theories of Comparative Literature
- C LIT 521: Fairy Tales and Folktales
- SPAN 499: Survey of Spanish Philosophy
- SPAN 599: Survey of Latin American Narrative
- SPAN 699: Topics in Hispanic Culture: Visions of Post-Revolutionary Mexico
Professional Development Courses:
- EXGEN 3997: Introduction to Community Translation: Strategies and Best Practices (Faculty of Extension, University of Alberta, August 2017).
Courses Taught at Other Institutions:
- 2020: Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Florianópolis, SC, Brazil; “Versões do Brasil” (graduate).
- 2020: Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Florianópolis, SC, Brazil; “Oficina de Ecopoesia e Tradução” (graduate).
- 2020: Universidade Estadual de Londrina, Paraná, Brazil: Centro de Letras e Ciências Humanas-Programa de Pós-graduação em Letras; “Ecocrítica e ecopoesia na América Latina” (graduate)
- 2002: Facultad de Filosofía y Letras, UNAM, Mexico City, Mexico; Guest Lecturer, summer course: “Caleidoscopio de las vanguardias” (undergraduate).
- 2000-02: Dept. of Spanish and Portuguese, New York University, NY, USA; Spanish Language Instructor and Course Coordinator (summer ‘01). Spanish 4 (Fall ‘00, Spring & Summer ‘01): Intermediate Spanish II; Spanish 10 (Fall ‘01): Intensive Spanish for Beginners; Spanish 3E (Spring ‘02): Intermediate Spanish I
- 2000: Morse Academic Plan, NYU in Spain Program, Madrid, Spain; Preceptor in the Expressive Culture-Words Program. Course: “Reflexivity in the Novel.”
- 1999: Morse Academic Plan, New York University, New York, NY, USA; Preceptor in the World Cultures Program. Course: “Aztec and Maya Culture.”
- 1990-91: Writing Department, Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA, USA. Writing Instructor in the English as a Second Language Program.
Guest Lectures in Courses:
- 2017: Guest Lecture in HIST 241 Colonial Latin America, Department of History and Classics. On Colonial Brazil.
- 2017: Guest Lecture (via Skype): PORT 405, Amazonia, Department of French, Hispanic and Italian Studies, UBC, taught by Prof. Alessandra Santos, on Poetry, Animals, and Amerindian Perspectivism
- 2017: Guest Lecture (via Skype): Course: “Brazilian Avant-Gardes,” Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, The University of Chicago, taught by Prof. Victoria Saramago, on Haroldo de Campos and translation.
- 2016, 2017: Guest lecture: SPAN 405, Exercises in Translation: Spanish into English, on poetry translation.
- 2015: LA ST 313, Women in Latin America, on the figure of the Brazilian singer and movie star, Carmen Miranda.
- 2012-21: Yearly guest lecture (fall and winter): MLCS 210 Intro to Cultural Studies MLCS 210, on the history, architecture, and politics of the Brazilian capital, Brasília.
- 2015: Guest lecture at University of Calgary: Graduate seminar Female Voices in Latin America with Elizabeth Montes on Mujeres en la vanguardia brasileña,”
- 2014: Guest lecture in LA ST 210, Intro to Latin American Studies, on constructions of identity in Latin America, with a special focus on Brazilian modernism.
- 2012-2013: Guest lecture: MLCS 204, Forms of Folklore, on the Internationalization of the Afro-Brazilian martial art Capoeira.
- Wei Zeng, PhD, PhD Supervisor, 2021-
- Rupert Thorough, PhD co-supervisor with Raleigh Whitinger. Completion: December 2018
- Axel Pérez Trujillo, PhD Supervisor. Completion: May 2018.
- Mirela Butnaru, PhD Supervisor. Fall 2004-Winter 2005. Transferred to another program.
- Claudia Cubillos, PhD Supervisor, Fall 2004-Spring 2005. Transferred to MA program. Completion: September 2007.
- Ana Juana Vicente Foster, MA Co-supervisor with Ann De León, 2020-
- Sofia Parrila, MA, 2020-
- Bruno Soares dos Santos, MA Supervisor. Completion: January 2021
- Jamie Kadoglou, MA, Supervisor. Completion: April 2014.
- Adriana Onita, MA, Supervisor. Completion: April 2014.
- Sandra Gaviria-Buck, MA, Supervisor. Completion: May 2013.
- Joseph Iyekekpolor, MA Supervisor. Completion: July 2010.
- Geraldine Barandiarán-Muñoz, MA Supervisor. Completion: April 2009.
- Mariana Paredes, Co-supervisor. Completion: April 2009.
Committee Member or Examiner:
- Shahab Nadimi, PhD Candidacy Examiner and Supervisory Committee, 2020-
- Mimi Okabe, PhD Exam Chair, 2019
- Sylvia Madueke, PhD Examiner, 2018
- Anton Iorga, PhD Candidacy Examiner, 2018
- Bashair Alibrahim, PhD Candidacy Examiner, 2017
- Elli Dehnavi, PhD Exam Chair, 2017
- Haiyan Xie, PhD Candidacy Examiner, 2017
- Viktoriya Yakovleva, PhD Exam Chair, 2016
- Mimi Okabe, PhD Candidacy Exam Chair, 2015
- Wenjuan Xie, PhD Examiner, 2015
- Sabujkoli Bandopadhyay, PhD Exam Chair, 2015
- Mingxing Wang, PhD Candidacy Examiner, 2015
- Brana Milic-Brett, PhD Exam Chair, 2014
- Nadia Roscoff, PhD Doctoral External Examiner, 2014
- Pushpa Acharya, PhD Exam Chair, 2014
- Daniel Johnson, PhD Doctoral Final Examiner, 2014
- Diana Ivanychiva PhD Doctoral Candidacy Examiner, 2014
- Volha Isakava, PhD Doctoral Final Examiner, January 2012
- Dennis Kilfoy, PhD Doctoral Candidacy Examiner, March 2010
- Argelia González-Hurtado, PhD Doctoral Candidacy Examiner, May 2008
- Tanya Ball, Second reader MA Thesis, complete
- Sarah Delano, Second reader MA Thesis, complete (July 2008)
- Delma Gil Wilson, Second reader MA Thesis, complete (July 2008)
- Slava Gratchev, Second reader, MA project, complete
- Celia Flores, Second reader MA Thesis, complete
- Mónica Ruiz, Second reader MA Thesis, complete
Committee Member or Examiner in Other Departments:
- Angela Ferreira, PhD, Candidacy Examiner, Department of Drama, 2021
- Fabiola Amorim, PhD, Examiner, Department of Music, 2018
- Annika Rosanowski, PhD Candidacy Examiner, Department of English and Film Studies, 2018
- Vladimir Rufino, PhD, Examiner, Department of Music, 2017
- Daniel Johnson, PhD, Proposal Examiner and Examiner, Program in Comparative Literature, Dissertation Defence, March 2014
- Lidiane Da Cunha, PhD, Exam Committee Chair, Program in Comparative Literature, Dissertation Defence, May 2012.
- Marco Katz, PhD, Committee Member and Proposal Examiner, Department of English and Film Studies, Dissertation Defence, December 2010.
- Lidiane da Cunha, Committee Member, Program in Comparative Literature, Field Papers passed
- Pauline Hung, PhD, Field Papers Examiner, Program in Comparative Literature, Field Papers passed
- Andy Weaver, PhD Examiner-Dissertation Defense, Department of English and Film Stuides, complete
- Colleen Irwin, PhD Candidacy Examiner, Program in Comparative Literature, Candidacy Exam passed
Committee Member or Examiner at Other Institutions:
- Mary Anne Warken Sobbotka, PhD, External Examiner, PPGET, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Brazil
- Izabel Cristina Medina Brum, PhD, Qualifying Exam Examiner, Estudos Literários, UNESP-Araraquara, São Paulo, Brazil
- Antonia de Jesus Sales, PhD, Committee Member and Co-Supervisor with Andréia Guerini, 2020- , PPGET, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Brazil
- Claudio Palomares, PhD. External Examiner, Spanish, University of Toronto, Successful Dissertation Defence August 2013.
- Aarnoud Rommens, PhD, External Examiner, Centre for the Study of Theory and Criticism, University of Western Ontario, Successful Dissertation Defence, August 2012
- Desiree Jung, PhD, External Thesis Reader/Examiner, Comparative Literature, University of British Columbia, Successful Dissertation Defence, August 2011.
- Andrés Villar, PhD, External Examiner, Department of Visual Arts, University of Western Ontario, Successful Dissertation Defence, July 2011.
- Jocemar Celinga, MA, Qualification Exam, PGET, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, April 2021.
- Marina Zorzetto, MA, External Examiner, School of Translation and Interpretation, University of Ottawa, January 2021.
- Pedro Henrique Reis, MA, Examiner, March 2020, Universidade de Brasília.
Graduate Mentorship Activities:
- March 2021: NeMLA Job Clinic—Advised Student one-on-one on CV, virtual.
- June 2018: Led workshop for graduate students “Publicación en revistas académicas” [Publishing in Academic Journals]; ACH Conference, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC.
- June 2018: Led workshop for graduate students “Publicación en revistas académicas” [Publishing in Academic Journals]; ACH Conference, University of Regina, Regina, Saskatchewan.
- November 2012: Participated in ProSeminar on “The Job Application.” Comparative Literature MLCS, University of Alberta.
- February 2010: Co-organized and participated in Pro-Seminar: Applying for a Job MLCS, University of Alberta.
- March 2007: Delivered presentation “The Academic CV” at graduate Pro Seminar. Also led discussion in small groups and with entire group on the subject
- April 2004: Co-organized and participated in Pro-Seminar: Job Search: Letters of Application, MLCS, University of Alberta.
COMMUNITY SERVICE LEARNING
Since 2012, I have engaged in numerous partnerships with community organizations that require translation services—including NGOs, historic sites, and schools—through the University of Alberta’s Community Service-Learning (CSL) initiative. In the CSL component in my translation courses SPAN 405 and SPAN 406, students translate documents for community partners and receive real life work experience while earning academic credit. Organizations and projects include:
- City of Edmonton, Fire Rescue Services – Information Sheets and Manuals
- Escuela Gabriela Mistral (Language school) – Website
- Change for Children (NGO) – Reports and grant documents
- École Grandin School (School) – Pedagogical materials
- Learning Disabilities Association of Alberta (NGO) – Driver Learner’s Kit
- Rutherford House – Provincial Historic Site (Historic Site) – Self-guided Tour
- Sombrilla International – Website; Uro-gynecological patient info sheets
- Memoria Viva Society of Edmonton –Oral history interviews with Chilean immigrants to Edmonton
- Edmonton Immigrant Services Association (EISA)—Licences, birth certificates, school records
Translation problems and strategies illustrated with examples from a variety of languages. Prerequisite: *6 in a foreign language at the 150-level or above.
Literary and cultural theory from classical times to the twentieth century from around the world. Students will read primary texts. Prerequisite: consent of Department.
Prerequisites: *3 in SPAN at the 300 level excluding 300 and 306, or consent of the Department. Note: This course can also be applied to the MLCS Certificate in Translation Studies.
Prerequisite: consent of Department.
Research - ecopoesia.com: An Online Resource on Environment and Poetry in Latin America
201607 to 20190630
ecopoesia.com: An Online Resource on Environment & Poetry from Latin America
Summary of Project
This research project aims at creating a trilingual (Spanish, Portuguese, English) online resource mapping the relationships between contemporary Latin American poetry and the environment. This website will be addressed to both general readers of poetry and to students and researchers in the areas of environment and literature.
Though nature has always been present in literature as a theme, the scholarly study of these connections—green literary studies or ecocriticism—only really blossomed in the last twenty years. With the rise of environmentalism and parallel to this scholarly interest, contemporary poets have also consciously begun to address ecological issues in their creative work. In Europe and North America, anthologies of ecopoetry and scholarly works on ecocriticism and ecopoetics attest to the growth of this field.
Latin American writers have also, in word and deed, long engaged with the environment, but their contributions are less known. As early as 1985, the Mexican poet Homero Aridjis successfully called for action against air pollution and lobbied to protect vulnerable species such as tortoises and whales. Aridjis’s activism is exemplary, but arguably his most enduring contribution, as that of many other fellow poets, lies in his words. In an indirect yet powerful way, his eco-centered poetry teaches us about the connection between humans, others forms of life, and the environment. Ecocriticism convincingly argues that the ways we imagine nature shape our relationship to it. Poetry is a privileged medium in this process for its ability to generate compelling images that reach deeper levels of consciousness. As the Canadian critic Jonathan Butler argues, “for real change [in environmental attitudes] to occur, we must look to the language of the poets who understand that human thought, human embodiment, and the natural world, are not separate from each other but intertwined and interconnected” ( This proposal believes that making such poetry widely available is an invaluable tool in generating environmental responsibility.
Our goal is to bring this important poetry, scattered across many venues and often untranslated, to the attention of both academic and general audiences in Canada, Latin America, and beyond. As a research and pedagogical tool, this online resource will feature biographical notes, critical commentaries, bibliographies, and a generous selection of poems, both in the original as well as in translation. We will showcase established figures such as Homero Aridjis, Ernesto Cardenal, and José Emilio Pacheco, and newer voices, including Astrid Cabral and Sérgio Medeiros, highlighting their unique environmental vision. General audiences will be able to read this poetry in various languages, and experts in the academy will have access, for the first time, to a rigorous corpus of environmental poetry from an important region of the world. In my own program of research, this project will serve as spadework towards a scholarly monograph I plan to write.
The resource’s digital platform will make access possible from any location and will allow different ways of mapping texts. Beyond the traditional “author/work” format, the website will create digital maps of poetry focusing on specific topics (for instance, pollution, endangered species, indigenous ecological knowledge). Through links to actual maps, images, and sounds, it will also allow readers to link poetry to place, text to geography.
Supervised by the principal investigator, two graduate students and two undergraduates will participate in all stages of the project: from selecting the authors and works, to translating, writing commentaries, and designing the website. Besides creating awareness of the field of environment and poetry, the project will train students in a number of specific areas: literary scholarship, editorial work, literary translation, digital humanities & web design, and knowledge mobilization.
Latin America is a key region for Canada in many ways. Latin American populations are growing, and Canada has a presence there, particularly in terms of natural resource extraction. This project mobilizes environmental poetry and insights from that region to new audiences within the academy and beyond. It challenges audiences to rethink our obligations to the environment and generates knowledge about populations and cultures that Canada needs to thrive responsibly in an interdependent world.