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Monica VanBladel


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20th-century Latin American literature
Mexican culture
Religion and the postsecular
performance studies

Monica VanBladel

Lecturer in Spanish and Portuguese 
Stanford Language Center

Monica VanBladel specializes in 20th and 21st century Latin American literature and culture, with particular interest in the representation of religions in Mexican literature. Her research and teaching interests include Mexican literature and culture, postcolonial and decolonial studies, and religious studies and the postsecular. She is an enthusiastic teacher of all levels of language and culture courses, and has previously taught Spanish and Portuguese language, as well as Latin American literature and culture. She is the proud recipient of a Stanford Centennial Teaching award. 
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.
Teaching experience

  • Portuguese 2A (Fall 2019) 
  • 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)



Ph.D., Stanford University, Iberian and Latin American Cultures
B.A., University of Notre Dame, Philosophy, Spanish Language & Literature 

Other Information

VanBladel, Monica. “‘La verdad…como un cadáver’: Postsecular Truth and Reconciliation in Bolaño’s Nocturno de Chile. Chasqui, revista de literatura latinoamericana, vol. 49, iss. 2, 2019.