Odile Cisneros, PhD

Associate Professor, Faculty of Arts - Modern Languages and Cultural Studies Dept


Associate Professor, Faculty of Arts - Modern Languages and Cultural Studies Dept



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).


My research areas and interests include:

  • The Latin American historical avant-gardes
  • Modern and contemporary Brazilian poetry
  • Mexican literature
  • Comparative literature
  • Literary translation
  • Ecocriticism

My current research project, "ecopoesia.com: An Online Resource on Environment & Poetry from Latin America," is funded by Canada’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.




 2003-2020: Undergraduate courses designed, redesigned, and/or taught at the U of A


  • SPAN 323: Latin American Literature and the Environment
  • SPAN 335: The Spanish Caribbean
  • SPAN 341: The “Roaring Twenties” in Transatlantic Perspective
  • SPAN 342: Urban Poetics: City and Modernity in the Spanish American Avant-gardes
  • SPAN 405: Exercises in Translation: Spanish into English
  • SPAN 406: Exercises in Translation: English into Spanish

Latin American Studies:

  • LA ST 205: Intro 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: Latin American Culture and the Environment

Modern Languages & Cultural Studies:

  • MLCS 210: Introduction to Cultural Studies: Language(s) of Culture

Comparative Literature:

  • C LIT 243: Fairy Tales and Folk Tales
  • C LIT 497: Fundamentals of Comparative Literature
  • C LIT 497: World Literature and the Environment: From Pastoral to Ecoambiguity

Honors Students Mentored:

  • 2014-15: Jinglong Tan
  • 2016: Jobey Willis and Artemis Aliaj

Undergraduate Research Initiative (UARE) International Interns Hosted:

  • Helena Cury Cunha, U Campinas, Brazil, Summer 2012, Anthology of Canadian Poetry
  • Julia Martins, UFRJ, Brazil, Summer 2013, Environmental Poetry Project
  • Maria Fernanda Mosquera, U del Rosario, Colombia, Winter 2017, ecopoesia.com
  • Bruno Soares, UFRJ, Brazil, Winter 2017, ecopoesia.com 

Community Service Learning:

Since 2012, I have incorporated community service-learning (CSL) into my translation courses, SPAN 405 and SPAN 406. In the CSL component, students do projects translating documents for community partners in and receive real life work experience while also earning academic credit. 

Education-Abroad Teaching:

In May 2014 and May 2015 I participated as instructor in the University of Alberta’s newly launched e3 in Brazil program. On site in Curitiba, Brazil, I taught the course “LA ST 399: Performing Brazil,” an interdisciplinary introduction to Brazilian culture through the lens of performance. In addition to in-class lectures, discussions, films, and presentations, the course included an experiential learning component in the form of visits to sites and attendance at cultural events. Below is a summary of those experiential learning opportunities:

Curitiba, Paraná, Brazil, 2014

11 Students

  • Visit to an Afro-Brazilian Umbanda temple
  • Attendance at outdoor Maracatu drumming event
  • Attendance and participation in Capoeira martial arts class
  • Attendance at Samba do Compositor—Samba circle
  • Attendance and participation in samba dance lesson 
  • Attendance at choro music performance


Curitiba, Paraná, Brazil, 2014

  • Visit to an Afro-Brazilian Umbanda temple
  • Attendance at local soccer match
  • Attendance at Capoeira & Maracatu martial arts, dance & drumming event at historic Afro-Brazilian worker’s club
  • Attendance and participation in Capoeira martial arts class
  • Attendance at Samba do Compositor—Samba circle

Learning Technologies Use and Training:

  •  I use a multimedia approach to teaching, involving audiovisual resources as well as many online learning components, managed through eClass/Moodle. Among other innovations, I introduced online screencasts of my lectures in LA ST 205 in Fall 2015.
  • Currently I’m working with Arts Pedagogy Research and Innovation Laboratory (APRIL) to implement more online learning strategies.
  • In summer 2016, I attended a CTL Workshop, "What's the Best Way to Grade Participation?" and introduced student self-assessments in my fall 2016 classes.
  • In summer 2014 I attended the three-session CTL course “Back to Basics Before You Flip: Course Design for F2F and Online Environments.”
  • In spring 2006 I attended a 2-day writing workshop led by Toby Fulweiler on writing across the curriculum.

Extra-curricular teaching events organized:

In April 2016 and September 2016 I organized two cooking demos for Spanish and Latin American students where we taught students how to prepare simple Hispanic dishes and discussed their cultural origins.


  • “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, 2017. (forthcoming)
  • Ann De León and I authored the paper “The Allure of the Real: Teaching Translation through CSL” presented at: Meeting of the Association of Canadian Hispanists of the Atlantic Provinces, St. Francis Xavier University, Antigonish, Nova Scotia, October 18, 2014.
  •  International Translation Day Conference, University of Alberta, September 30, 2013.


University Service:

  • 2015-2018: Appointed Academic Director of the Certificate for International Learning, a University-wide initiative administered by U of A’s Global Education.
  • 2013: Participated in Guadalajara self-funded trip with members of the Faculty of Engineering to develop student exchange opportunities with Tec de Monterrrey and Universidad de Guadalajara.
  • 2011-2012: Member of the Brazil Regional Council, new council intended to expand and strengthen the U of A’s relationship with Brazil and Brazilian educational institutions. 

Faculty Service:

  • 2012-2018: Member of the Academic Affairs Committee: Committee is responsible for the assessment of new program and curriculum proposals, including examining the structure and the relationship of a new proposal to existing programs.
  • 2012 BA Review Working Group: Global Connections for the 21st Century. Contributed ideas to the Faculty of Arts BA Review with members of working group.

Department Service:

  • 2014-present; 2006-2009: Undergraduate Advisor for Spanish and Latin American Studies; Program has over 1200 enrolments and circa 70 majors per 4-year cycle. esponsible for advising students regarding course placement, course & program requirements, study-abroad credit issues, and evaluation of credit transfer proposals.
  • 2012-present: Undergraduate Coordinator for Program in Comparative Literature. 
  • 2012-2014: Spanish and Latin American Studies Area Coordinator and Member of Chair’s Advisory Committee
  • 2008-2009: Teaching Awards Committee member: Attended meetings and prepared the nomination package for the Spanish Graduate Teaching Award (Karla del Carpio, successful), and with Peter Rolland prepared other nomination packages.
  • 2007-2010: Organized and coordinated creation of Spanish Section website with graduate assistant. Collected information, designed main page structure, performed updates.


  • Recipient of a 2016 Faculty of Arts Undergraduate Teaching Award
  • Nominated for a 2017 Rutherford Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching


C LIT 102 - World Literature II

An introduction to major works of the world's literary heritage, presented in their historical, social, and cultural contexts. Covers the period from the 17th century through the present day. Not open to students with credit in C LIT 100.

Winter Term 2022
MLCS 300 - Introduction to Translation

Translation problems and strategies illustrated with examples from a variety of languages. Prerequisite: *6 in a foreign language at the 150-level or above.

Fall Term 2021
SPAN 323 - Latin American Literature and the Environment

The study of the relationship of Latin American writing and writers to the environment with a focus on the landscape and current ecological concerns. Prerequisite: SPAN 300 or 306 or consent of Department.

Winter Term 2021
SPAN 406 - Exercises in Translation: English into Spanish

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.

Winter Term 2021
SPAN 506 - Exercises in Translation: English to Spanish

Prerequisite: consent of Department.

Winter Term 2021

Browse more courses taught by Odile Cisneros

Scholarly Activities

Research - ecopoesia.com: An Online Resource on Environment and Poetry in Latin America

201607 - 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. 


Historical Dictionary of Latin American Literature and Theater
Author(s): Richard Young, Odile Cisneros
Publication Date: 2011