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Monica VanBladel


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20th-century Latin American literature
Technology and media studies
Religious studies
New materialisms

Monica VanBladel

Ph.D. Candidate in Iberian and Latin American Cultures
Mellon Dissertation Fellow, Stanford University 

Monica VanBladel is a Ph.D. Candidate in Iberian and Latin American Cultures at Stanford University, where she teaches and researches 20th- and 21st-century Latin American literature and culture. 
Dissertation: Postsecular Community: Religion as Literary Form and Political Theory in Post-1959 Mexican Fiction.
This project analyzes three Mexican novels for how they engage religious thought to present alternatives to Mexico’s failing Revolutionary state. My postsecular analysis considers how authors Rosario Castellanos, Carlos Fuentes, and Yuri Herrera dismantle the religious/secular binary, engaging Catholic, Mexica, and Maya religious thought as essential conceptual resources for theorizing alternative collectivities in Mexico’s 20th century. Following decolonial thinkers like Nelson Maldonado-Torres, I argue that these novels present a novel communitarian response to the limitations of the nation-state paradigm. My demarcation date of 1959 indexes the Cuban Revolution, watershed for renewed utopian stirrings throughout Latin America; I situate these novelists’ articulations of community among those desires, as well as current theoretical debates on models for Latin American political subjectivity. Further, my elaboration of a Latin Americanist postsecular literary criticism contributes to the emerging field of postsecular humanities from the postcolonial vantage of Latin American literary studies.
Before coming to Stanford, Monica earned her B.A. in Philosophy and Spanish Language and Literature from the University of Notre Dame, and then worked in legal services in Washington State. 
Teaching experience

  • Spanish 101 (Spring 2018; with the Prison University Project,
  • Confluences and Conflicts in the Spanish-Speaking World (Spring 2017, course assistant, University of San Francisco; core requirement in the USF Spanish major) 
  • Spanish 5B (Summer 2016; intensive summer equivalent of Spanish 2)
  • ILAC 131: Introduction to Latin America (Winter 2016; co-taught with Professor Héctor Hoyos)
  • Portuguese 1A (Fall 2015)
  • Spanish first-year sequence: Spanish 1, Spanish 2, Spanish 3 (Fall 2014, Winter 2015, Spring 2015)

Previously served as graduate coordinator of the Humanities Education Focal Group (, as well as materia, a research group investigating various strands of post-anthropocentric thought (