African and African Disapora Studies Department
African and African Disapora Studies Department

Deborah Paredez

Associate ProfessorPh.D., 2002, Interdisciplinary‚Ä©Theatre, Northwestern University

Associate Professor of Theatre and Dance and of English
Deborah Paredez



U.S. Latina/o performance and popular culture, Women and Migration in the US-Mexico Borderlands, Selena Quintanilla Perez


Deborah Paredez holds a Ph.D. from the Interdisciplinary Theatre and Drama Program at Northwestern University. She teaches courses about race and performance in the Department of Theatre, the Center for Mexican American Studies, and the Center for African & African American Studies. Her recent scholarship has focused on U.S. Latina/o performance and popular culture. Her articles, "Remembering Selena, Re-membering Latinidad," (Theatre Journal, 2002) and "Becoming Selena, Becoming Latina" (Women and Migration in the US-Mexico Borderlands, Duke University Press, 2007) comprise part of her book, Selenidad: Selena, Latinos, and the Performance of Memory (Duke University Press 2009), that explores the afterlife of the Tejana performer, Selena Quintanilla Perez. Her recent article, "All About My (Absent) Mother: Latina Aspirations in Real Women Have Curves and Ugly Betty," will appear in the anthology, Beyond El Barrio: Everyday Life in Latina/o America, under contract with New York University Press. Her next project, for which she received a 2008-09 AAUW Postdoctoral Fellowship, will focus on arts activism among communities of color in the Bronx.

Deborah will serve as Associate Director of the Center for Mexican American Studies for the 2009-2010 year and will also continue her work as Director of Arts and Community Engagement (ACE) in the Vice President's Office for Diversity and Community Engagement.

In addition to her work as a theatre scholar and performer, Deborah is also a poet. She is the author of This Side of Skin (Wings Press, 2002) and the recipient of the Alfredo Cisneros del Moral Foundation Writing Award founded by Sandra Cisneros. Her poems have also appeared 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), and The Wind Shifts: New Latino Poetry (University of Arizona Press, 2007). 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.


AFR 372E • Black And Latina/O Performance

30370 • Fall 2013
Meets MW 3:00PM-4:30PM SAC 5.102
(also listed as E 376M)

Instructor:  Paredez, D            Areas:  V / G

Unique #:  35955            Flags:  Cultural Diversity

Semester:  Fall 2013            Restrictions:  n/a

Cross-lists:  AFR 372E, MAS 374 (pending approval)            Computer Instruction:  No

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

Description: In recent years, numerous public discussions and critical commentaries have focused on the purported tensions between Black and Latino communities. By examining Black and Latino artistic products and cultural practices from the 1940s to the present, the historical trajectory of this course encourages students to challenge recent constructions of Black/Latino relations as inherently conflictual. We will pay particular attention to both thematic resonances between Black and Latino art and to actual Black/Latino artistic collaborations in theatre, dance, performance art, performance poetry, music, fashion and style. We will also study works by Afro-Latino artists whose art disrupts the discrete categories that often separate the two communities. Throughout the course, students will 1) chart a history of collaborations and resonances between Black and Latino artists; 2) identify Black and Latino aesthetic styles and traditions; and 3) develop and practice analytical skills for approaching the question: "What is Black and/or Latino performance?"

Texts to be selected from the following among others: (description approved by DP for posting as is, 3/11/13; no narrowing down of texts yet.)

Elam, Harry. Taking It to the Streets: The Social Protest Theater of Luis Valdez and Amiri Baraka

Gamson, Joshua. The Fabulous Sylvester: The Legend, the Music, the Seventies in San Francisco

shange, ntozake. for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf

Baraka, Amiri/Jones, Leroi. "AM/TRAK." Jazz Poetry Anthology. Eds. Sascha Feinstein & Yusef Komunyakaa. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1991.

_____. Dutchman. New York: Harper, 1971.

7_____. "A Jazz Great: John Coltrane." Black Music. New York: W. Morrow, 1967. 56-62.

_____. "The Revolutionary Theatre."

Flores, Juan. "Cha-Cha with a Back Beat: Songs and Stories of Latin Boogaloo." Situating Salsa: Global Markets and Local Meanings in Popular Music. Ed. Lise Waxer. New York: Routledge, 2002. 75-100.

Fusco, Coco. "Performance and Power of the Popular." Let’s Get It On: The Politics of Black Performance. Seattle: Bay Press, 1995. 158-176.

George-Graves, Nadine. "Basic Black." Theatre Journal 57.4 (2005): 610-612.

Habell-Pallán, Michelle & Mary Romero, "Introduction." Latino/a Popular Culture, Ed. Habell-Pallán & Romero. New York: New York University Press, 2002. 1-7.

Hall, Stuart Hall. "What is this Black in Black Popular Culture?" Black Popular Culture. Ed. Gina Dent. Seattle: Bay Press, 1992. 20-33.

Jacques, Geoffrey. "CuBop! Afro-Cuban Music and Mid-Twentieth Century American Culture." Between Race and Empire: African Americans and Cubans Before the Cuban Revolution. Eds. Lisa Brock & Digna Castenada-Fuertes. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1998. 249-265.

Kelley, Robin D. G. "The Riddle of the Zoot: Malcolm Little and Black Cultural Politics During World War II" Race Rebels: Culture, Politics, and the Black Working Class. New York: Free Press, 1994. 161-182.

Lott, Eric. "Double V, Double Time: Bebop's Politics of Style." Jazz Among the Discourses.  Ed. Krin Gabbard. Durham: Duke University Press, 1995. 243-255.

McCauley, Robbie. Sally's Rape. Moon Marked and Touched by Sun: Plays by African-American Women. Ed. Sydne Mahone. New York: Theatre Communications Group, 1994. 211-238.

_____. "Thoughts on My Career, The Other Weapon, and Other Projects." Performance and Cultural Politics. Ed. Elin Diamond. New York: Routledge, 1996.

Muñoz, Jose. "Performing Disidentifications." Disidentifications: Queers o Color and the Performance of Politics. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press,1999. 1-13.

Neal, Larry. "The Black Arts Movement."

Pagán, Eduardo Obregón. "Chapter 5: Dangerous Fashion." Murder at the Sleepy Lagoon: Zoot Suits, Race, and Riot in Wartime L.A. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003. 98-125.

Parks, Suzan-Lori. "Black Math." Theatre Journal 57.4 (2005): 576-583.

_____. "An Equation for Black People Onstage. The American Play and Other Works. New York: Theatre Communications Group, 1995.19-22.

Perdomo, Willie. "Nigger-Reecan Blues." Where a Nickel Costs a Dime. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1996. 19-21.

Ramírez, Catherine. "Crimes of Fashion: The Pachuca and Chicana Style Politics," Meridians: Feminism, Race, Transnationalism 2:2 (Spring 2002): 1-35.

Rivera, Raquel. "It's Just Begun" & "Whose Hip Hop?" New York Ricans from the Hip Hop Zone. New York: Palgrave, 2003. 49-96.

Sanchez, Sonia.  "a/coltrane/poem." Jazz Poetry Anthology. Eds. Sascha Feinstein & Yusef Komunyakaa. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1991. 183-186.

El Teatro Campesino, "Los Vendidos." The Harcourt Brace Anthology of Drama. 3rd Edition. Ed. W.B. Worthen. New York: Heinle & Heinle, 1999. 1008-1012.      

Troyano, Alina. "The Conquest of Mexico as Seen Through the Eyes of Hernan Cortes' Horse." I, Carmelita Tropicana: Performing Between Cultures. New York: Beacon Press, 2000. 173-76.

_____. Milk of Amnesia. I, Carmelita Tropicana: Performing Between Cultures. New York: Beacon Press, 2000. 52-71.

Valdez, Luis. "Notes on Chicano Theatre." Early Works: Actos, Bernarbe, and Pensamiento Serpentino. Houston: Arte Publico Press, 1994. 6-10.

Requirement and Grading: In addition to regular attendance and active participation, there are THREE ASSIGNMENTS required for this course:

1) Creative Response        25%

2) Performance Analysis        25%

3) Final Project        50%

a.  Presentation component    20%

b.  Written component    30%

1) Creative Response

DUE: During the second week of class, each student will sign up for a day to share their response.

A response to the performance/music/play/dance/style that is in a form other than a written analysis. This could be visual art:  a collage, a drawing, a painting; sculpture or a "prop" or tool or machine; music or sound; food; movement, gesture, or dance; or another written form: poetry, for example. The purpose of this approach is to encourage a different, perhaps more intuitive response to and analysis of the performance. Also, please include a short (less than one page typed, double-spaced) explanation of your response.

2) Performance Analysis

DUE: On the day we discuss the performance you are analyzing.

A 2-3-page, typed, double-spaced paper (around 500-750 words) in which you offer your own original interpretation of a performance form or cultural style studied this semester. Your essay should begin with Observation: What do you read or see or hear or feel? Then expand to Analysis: How does this observation connect to other elements of the performance or cultural artifact or create a pattern? And finally move to: Interpretation: What is significant about this observation? What does it mean? How does it contribute to the total meaning of the performance or cultural product?

3) Final Project

The final project is comprised of the following steps:

1) Proposal Draft (1 page typed abstract)

2) Presentation/Performance (15 min)

3) Completed Written Project (10-15 pp)

This project provides each seminar participant the opportunity to critically investigate and/or creatively produce Black or Latino performance. The project includes both an oral and written component. The oral component can take the form of a scholarly presentation or lecture, an original performance, an art installation, or an interactive workshop. The written component can take the form of a theoretical or historical research paper, an original script accompanied by an introductory "Artist's Statement," or a curatorial essay. We will explore other options as the semester proceeds.

E 380F • Literature For Writers

35760 • Spring 2013
Meets W 10:00AM-1:00PM PAR 214

Gender and Contemporary American Poetry

The 2010 report, "The Count" released by VIDA: Women in Literary Arts has sparked lively debate in a range of public forums—from AWP panels to Twitter feeds—about the status and representation of women in poetry publishing.  In light of this report, this course explores the various spaces women writers have created, occupied, and re-mapped within American poetry during the past thirty years.  We will approach the readings with questions that include: How do these works shape and challenge my own writing practices and preoccupations?  What literary genealogies are present in these works and how is my own work positioned vis-à-vis this lineage?  What insights do these works offer with regards to gender, genre, feminism, and form(alism)?

Course Assignments:

  1. Portfolio of poems
  2. Artist Statement
  3. Critical Reflection Paper

Preliminary Course Readings Include:

  • Gabrielle Calvocoressi, The Last Time I Saw Amelia Earhart
  • Lucille Clifton, Blessing the Boats
  • Carrie Fountain, Burn Lake
  • Suheir Hammad, Zataar Diva
  • Marie Howe, What the Living Do
  • Valerie Martinez, Each and Her
  • Sharon Olds, The Gold Cell
  • Kay Ryan, The Best of It
  • Juliana Spahr and Stephanie Young, "Numbers Trouble" (article)
  • Natasha Trethewey, Native Guard
  • VIDA, "The Count 2010" (report)

WGS 345 • Poetry/Performance As Witness

47360 • Spring 2013
Meets MW 3:00PM-4:30PM 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.

AFR 387D • Divas: Perf Race/Gender/Sexlty

30360 • Fall 2011
Meets W 11:00AM-2:00PM DFA 4.104
(also listed as E 389P, MAS 392, T D 387D)

What makes a diva a diva?   How are our ideas about performance, spectatorship, space, and capital shaped by the diva figure?  This course explores the central role of the diva—the celebrated, iconic, and supremely skilled female performer—in the shaping and re-imagining of racial, gendered, sexual, national, temporal, and aesthetic categories. Students in this course will theorize the cultural function and constitutive aspects of the diva and will analyze particular performances of a range of divas from the 20th and 21st centuries.

MAS 392 • Race And Performance

35865 • Fall 2010
Meets W 2:00PM-5:00PM WIN 1.148

Please check back for updates.

MAS 392 • Divas: Perf Race/Gender/Sexlty

36301 • Fall 2009
Meets W 2:00PM-5:00PM WIN 1.130

Please check back for updates.

AFR 374F • From Zoot Suits To Hip-Hop

34310 • Spring 2006
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM WIN 1.130
(also listed as MAS 374)

Please check back for updates.

MAS 374 • Latino Cultural Production

32000 • Spring 2004
Meets TTH 2:00PM-3:30PM WIN 1.114

Please check back for updates.

MAS 374 • Seminar In Theatre And Dance-W

32608 • Fall 2003
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM WIN 1.114

Please check back for updates.

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