Another Review of my Young Lords Book

The most recent issue of Rhetoric and Public Affairs has a review my book on the Young Lords written by J. David Cisneros, an associate professor at the University of Illinois. Cisneros says that the book “provides a theoretically rich and thoughtful set of challenges to rhetorical studies and critical theory that are worth serious consideration,” adding that it “represents the fullest and most skillful work to date bringing together de/coloniality theory and rhetorical studies.” He concludes the review like this: Continue reading “Another Review of my Young Lords Book”

Decolonizing Rhetorical Studies: A Discussion About The New York Young Lords and the Struggle for Liberation at NCA

On Saturday, November 18, from 11:00 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., there will be a panel discussion about The New York Young Lords and the Struggle for Liberation at the National Communication Association’s annual convention. Sponsored by the American Society for the History of Rhetoric, the panel features three critical engagements of the book by a diverse group of scholars in rhetorical studies, and will be followed by a response from me. Continue reading “Decolonizing Rhetorical Studies: A Discussion About The New York Young Lords and the Struggle for Liberation at NCA”

Another Positive Review of the Book!

With the semester plucking along, I’ve fallen a little behind on my posting. Tomorrow, I head to the University of Oklahoma for two events sponsored by the Center for Teaching Excellence and the Center for Social Justice. On 3/3, I will be presenting the chapter “Figural, Not Foundational: The New York Young Lords and Revolutionary Nationalism” in a campus lecture at Gaylord Hall Auditorium, Room 1140, from 7:00-9:00 p.m. On 3/4 from 9:00-11:00 a.m., I will be facilitating a teaching workshop on “Decolonial Love,” at Bissell Library, Helmerich Collaborative Learning Center Classroom.

Last month, La Respuesta Magazine published a review The New York Young Lords and the Struggle for Liberation. The review, titled “Writing With the Oppressed,” offers a strong endorsement.  Here’s a small taste:

“Wanzer-Serrano offers a critical interpretation of the writings, speeches, and actions of The Young Lords Party in a way that emphasizes their geographic and socio-political situatedness…. The New York Young Lords and the Struggle for Liberation shares the story of The Young Lords Party in a refreshing way by employing a methodology that privileges their own voices, all while expanding conversations throughout various fields in the academy. In this, the work’s importance cannot be understated as it is not merely a regurgitation of The Lords story but rather a conversation with them. For that…this work deserves praise.”

The Great (?) Scrivener Experiment

Friends of mine know that I’m a lover of technology, especially when it has the potential to keep me better organized and make certain tasks easier. For example, I’ve become an avid user of digital solutions in archival research because they can make your work more meaningful and useful down the road. A friend’s recent request on Facebook for information about software to aid in an ongoing research/writing project got me thinking about my next project … and that led me (again) to Scrivener.

I flirted with Scrivener long ago, first after reading about it on ProfHacker and then after a friend mentioned using it for his dissertation. “Flirt” may be an overstatement — really, I glanced across the room and proceeded on without any sustained engagement. Last week, however, I decided to download the app and really give it a fair shake by running through its extensive tutorial. I’m very glad I took a shot at it.

Scrivener seems great because it can keep all of your research, outlines, drafts, notes, fragments, and whatever else you want, all bundled up in one place where you can easily access individual documents, use tags, search efficiently, and more. Basically, it’s a one-stop-shop for the early-stage work that goes into a book project and the drafting process. It certainly has its idiosyncrasies (e.g., you have to “compile” text and export it in order to finalize your documents for submission); but I’m interested and convinced enough that I’ve decided to start my next book project — tentatively titled Possession: Crafting Americanity in Congressional Discourse about Puerto Rico — using this app and see where it takes me.

At present, my toolkit will be centered on Scrivener. I also plan to keep using Sente for citation management, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom for photographs, and will probably fall back on Microsoft Word or Apple Pages for final manuscript prep (although I’m entertaining Nisus Writer Pro and Mellel for that task).

If you have experience using Scrivener for a large project or even have a different workflow that you want to share, please feel free to comment below.

Feeling the Love

This is a short post on something that’s been on my mind the past few days — something I felt like I needed to get in print before the feeling left me. First a preface: the biggest surprise to my about my move to Iowa is how much I’d gotten used to and taken for granted the diversity of people in Texas. This isn’t to say that Iowa is homogenous. In fact, Iowa City is a lot more diverse (racially, class-wise, etc.) that I was expecting. Still, there’s a difference of degree that had a bigger impact on me that I had expected. It’s strange, for example, having students who had never met a non-white person prior to coming to college — students who grew up in entirely white towns. It’s also been strange being without my camaradas, with whom I’d grown close in my last year in Texas. Add to that new preps, the process of moving, the process of adjusting to a new institution, being so far away from mi amor … and it all adds up to a general intellectual funk. Not the good kind of funk, mind you; there was no George Clinton helping me get my groove on. Well … the funk is gone.

Last week (Thursday through Saturday), Iowa hosted an AMAZING symposium called The Latino Midwest. This intellectually stimulating conference was filled with some people I already knew and a bunch of people whom I’m excited to now know. All of the presentations were on Latin@s in the midwest (obviously, from the title), most were about Chican@s and Mexican Americans; so they weren’t necessarily presentations that spoke directly to my research interests. That said, they were all incredibly interesting, exciting talks.

Just as importantly for me, though, was the feel of the conference. It was a space full of mutual interest, mutual care, and love. From the loving suggestions of a long-time mentor, to the loving embrace of new friends, to the ethic of decolonial love exhibited by Junot Diaz — it was a transformative experience. It inspired me to call friends and co-conspirators; and it inspired me to get back to work. As soon as the morning panel on Saturday was complete, I locked myself in my office and hammered out more writing than I’ve done in months. I even managed to follow it up with a repeat performance on Sunday.

Why write all of this down? Two reasons. First, I don’t want to forget this feeling and this inspiration, and hope that committing it to the blogosphere will help. Second, I want to remind people how important our intellectual and affective communities of connection are. It’s easy to get lost in the daily grind of this or that (service, bureaucracy, classes your heart’s not in, etc.). But it’s important to remember those communities of folks that animate us. I’ve been dreading the coming National Communication Association convention for months; but now I can’t wait to see my friends, my intellectual family, my brothers and sisters who make me who I am and keep me moving with my work.

Abrazos. Pa’lante.

Ch-ch-ch-changes (and Other Goings On)

So if you don’t really know me and/or aren’t friends with me on Facebook, Twitter, and the like, then you may not already know that I’m making a big career change this summer. I’ve been at the University of North Texas for the last three years and have had a GREAT time. In fact, Denton, TX has been the first place that really felt like home to me since I left Washington state for grad school at Indiana over a decade ago. But with as many friends and great colleagues as I’ve met in TX, the time has come for me to move on; and as you might be able to tell from the new color scheme (or updated CV) I’m headed back to the midwest to start a new job in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Iowa.

While it’s going to be hard to leave friends and loved ones behind in Texas, it’s an exciting time to be joining some good friends and new colleagues at Iowa. Not only do we have a great department overall and particularly in rhetoric (though I’m certainly biased on that front), interesting developments are also afoot in Latin@ studies and across the university. For example, the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies will be hosting a symposium next year entitled The Latino Midwest, which will bring some amazing speakers to campus and serve as a catalyst for some critical conversations in a state with a fast-growing Latin@ population.

In preparation for my move, I’m trying to wrap up some projects in TX — a short article starting the project to delink rhetoric from modern/coloniality, my book proposal and sample chapters, etc. At some point, I should probably also pack up my stuff and (UGH!) get ready to move. With all of this stuff, I hope to start using my blog a little bit more to work/test out some ideas, vent some frustrations, transition myself to life outside of TX and the metroplex and back into the land of corn and soy, and once again provide some tips for professional development (e.g., stay tuned for a post on how I’ve come to accept my new Google overlords).

Anyway, I’ll move on up to Iowa sometime in July … hopefully just in time to escape the worst of the Texas summer. In the meantime, I hope everyone in Internetland has a great summer full of productive work, delightful relaxation, and the love of good friends and family.


PS, please note the change in my website address and bookmark this one if you’re so inclined.

On Saying “No”

Thinking back to the first time I was asked to review for a big journal in my field, I remember being so excited that someone was asking for my opinion about the quality of a complete stranger’s scholarship. That was right after I got my degree. Then the requests steadily increased in frequency. Still a tenure-track assistant professor, I find myself in a little bit of a bind. On the one hand, I fully recognize the importance of peer reviewing and the obligation we have to our disciplines and each other to contribute to that process. On the other hand, in a tenure-track where it’s hard enough to strike a balance between research, teaching, and non-work life, sometimes you’ve just gotta say no.

For me, I’ve set my limit at about 3 journal reviews a year (plus conference reviewing), with first priority going to the places where I’m on the editorial board (and generally just won’t say “no” to them at all unless there’s a very good, specific reason). Why 3 reviews? Aside from 3 being the magic number, I have no idea — seemed about right is all. But now I find myself in the uncomfortable position of saying “no” more than I say “yes” to reviewing. At the end of the day, however, I recognize that reviewing isn’t going to get me tenure. And it’s not going to help me maintain a work/non-work balance. As hard as it is for me to say “no” to people’s requests (I inevitably feel like I’m letting them down), I’ve come to see it as a necessary evil — key to preserving productivity and maintaining some king thin grasp on my sanity.

What about you? What is/was your limit as an assistant professor? Did/will that change post-tenure? Are there (or do you fear) negative consequences to saying “no” on a regular basis?

Please comment below and share your thoughts!

New Essay and an Addendum

My new essay on Nuyorican cultural production in East Harlem was just published in Communication Theory. Unfortunately, it looks like the production team at Wiley-Blackwell accidentally omitted a couple of key things.

1. The article is supposed to be dedicated to Nathaniel “Nacho” Córdova, may he rest in peace. Nacho was my friend and mentor — one of the few other Puerto Rican rhetorical scholars in my home discipline of communication studies. Nacho passed away this summer and this essay was to be dedicated in his honor, especially since he gave me some valuable feedback early on.

2. They also omitted the acknowledgements. Again, I don’t think this is something that was intentional and certainly wasn’t anything in the editor’s hands (Angharad Valdivia is, as anyone who knows her will tell you, awesome). Anyway, I wanted to post them here:


I want to extend special thanks to the many people who have commented on earlier versions of this essay, especially Nathaniel Córdova, Suzanne Enck-Wanzer and all of the wonderful participants from the 2010 UNT Summer Workshop on Critical Latina/o Communication Studies. I also wish to thank Angharad Valdivia and the reviewers for their guidance and suggestions.

I probably should also mention that this essay was originally presented at the 2009 American Studies Association convention. Its completion was made possible through a 2010 UNT Junior Faculty Summer Research Fellowship. The full citation, PDF, and link to the journal page are under the “Research” tab in the header of this site.


R.I.P., Nacho Córdova

Nacho Córdova

It is with a heavy heart that I write of the passing of my friend, colleague, and mentor, Nathaniel I. Córdova, who most of us knew as Nacho. A beloved teacher and gifted scholar, Nacho was an associate professor and chair of rhetoric and media studies at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon. In addition to being an academic, Nacho was a skilled photographer (both iPhoneography and more conventional dSLR work), a devoted partner, and a loving father.  I’m still pretty shocked to hear this news and remain speechless, so I’ll keep this post fairly brief…. Continue reading “R.I.P., Nacho Córdova”