Valentina Montero Román

Picture of Valentina Montero Román
Assistant Professor, English
School of Humanities
Ph.D., University of Michigan, 2019, English Language and Literature
University of California, Irvine
373 Humanities Instructional Building
Irvine, CA 92697
Research Interests
20th- and 21st- Century US, Chicanx/Latinx Studies, Critical Race and Feminist Theory, Novel Studies/Narrative Theory
• “Telling Stories That Never End: Valeria Luiselli, the Refugee Crisis at the U.S.-Mexico Border, and the Big, Ambitious Archival Novel.” Genre, Duke University Press.

This essay argues that Valeria Luiselli's Lost Children Archive (2019) experiments with literary techniques often associated with the “big, ambitious novel” to represent the pervasive problems created by US racial construction. More specifically, it contends that Luiselli's novel evokes the archive in its fragmentation, recombinant organization, and narrative multiplicity as a means for demonstrating the complexity and relentlessness of the refugee crisis and the constructions of Latinx difference that develop alongside it.

• “Feeling Angry: White Creole Cognition in Jean Rhys’s Novels of Slow Futurity.” Studies in the Novel, Johns Hopkins University Press, Winter 2023 (forthcoming).

Jean Rhys is a white Caribbean author whose representations of “stalled” or “failed” women characters are often understood to highlight the challenges of personal growth in colonial space and time. In this article, I contextualize this language of stalled maturity through an attention to eugenics discourse, arguing that an analysis of Rhys’s slow storytelling demonstrates the nuanced ways colonial narratives of cognitive development were mobilized in the early twentieth century.

• “Race, Gender, and ‘Real Brains’: Interrogating Unreliability in Nella Larsen’s Passing.” Modern Fiction Studies, Johns Hopkins University Press.

This article analyzes narrative reliability in Nella Larsen’s Passing by putting it in the context of eugenics discourse and circulating ideas of gendered modernity. Larsen’s use of focalization – the formal separation of narrating voice and focalizing consciousness – illuminates how race and gender bias can be naturalized in ascriptions of reliability. I argue that narrative unreliability is inextricable from cultural and social contexts and that reading Passing with this in mind highlights the frame structures (both narrative and sociopolitical) that function to challenge Black women’s articulations of independence and intelligence in the early twentieth century.

• “Crafting a Chinese American Modern Girl: Edith Eaton in The Modern Priscilla.” Legacy, University of Nebraska Press, volume 41, number 1, June 2024 (forthcoming).

In this essay, I analyze a newly recovered short story of Eaton’s called “Draught of Bewilderment: A Tale of Modern China.” Noting how this story fits into her broader oeuvre, the article considers Eaton's repeated return to representations of gendered modernity as an exploration of the varied ways ableism, classism, and racism play out in the construction of seemingly neutral ideas of progress and modernity.

• “Latinas in Biographical Film: Analyzing the Cultivation of a Genealogy of Latina Feministas in the United States.” Latinx Ciné: Filmmaking, Production, and Consumption in the 21st Century, edited by Frederick Luis Aldama, University of Arizona Press.

Because of the way biographical films are interpolated into historical memory, the genre serves as a particularly rich space for thinking about the stakes of and strategies for diverse and equitable representation. In this chapter, I analyze how biographical films position their subjects as a part of a genealogy of “Latina” feminism and I consider what we learn about different conceptualizations of Latinidad and feminism when we look at how biographical films are promoted, produced, and received. In the end, I suggest that concentrating on the representation of Latinas in biographical cinema provides insight into the complex and always political process of representing historically marginalized people in nuanced and productive ways.
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