News Feature

Faculty Recognition: Dr. Alba Aragón, Global Languages/English

A teacher-scholar introducing students to a world of culture

In her three years at BSU, Dr. Alba Aragón has already notched a fair share of accomplishments.


An assistant professor in both the Global Languages and Literatures and English departments, Dr. Aragón has presented her work at an international conference, published a paper on the artist Frida Kahlo in Fashion Theory, and is developing her dissertation into a book on modern Latin American visual and literary culture and how the dressed body relates to ideas about national and cultural identity.


Perhaps the most exciting news is that, after presenting a paper on the Latin American poet Rubén Darío in Argentina last month, she had two articles accepted for publication and was invited to collaborate on a digital archive project involving a magazine he worked with. 


At BSU, Dr. Aragón teaches Latin American literature in the original Spanish and in translation. 


“It’s one of the most fun parts of my job, getting to have one foot in global languages and one in English,” she said.


One of her favorite courses to teach, offered by the English department, involves border literature. It’s especially timely now, given the heated diatribes against immigrants heard on the presidential campaign trail.


“We talk about controversial issues, and it forces the students to think beyond the hateful rhetoric and to deal with the complexities of the topic of immigration,” she said. “It’s been challenging but very rewarding.”


Teaching Spanish is the backbone of what she does; she enjoys seeing students pick up the basics of the language after just a single semester.


“There’s so much personal growth involved in getting those skills,” Dr. Aragón said.


Her scholarly work is the other half of the equation. Her work on poet Rubén Darío led to her discovering a handful of his articles that had not seen the light of day since 1911. They were included in editions of Elegancias, the magazine that he worked on as literary director, copies of which are extremely rare.


Professor Aragón’s work on painter Frida Kahlo involves examining how the image of this Mexican painter has been commoditized over the past century.


“She co-opted clothing that belonged to traditional ethnic groups and turned it into a symbol of Mexico,” Dr. Aragón said. “Over time it’s become an image of stereotypical Mexico – ornamental and pretty, but no longer political. It’s changed the meanings of her work and image.”


Her scholarship touches on issues surrounding the topic of fashion, and Dr. Aragón uses an interdisciplinary approach, involving politics, history, visual culture, social anthropology and literature.


Since her undergraduate days, Professor Aragón has worked on translating poetry. Specifically, she’s worked on Central American women’s poetry that deals with political and gender issues


“That was my first entry into research, my first research love, making the perspectives of these women understood outside Central America,” she said.


If all this wasn’t enough, Professor Aragón also coordinates the Women’s and Gender/GLBT Studies program and has helped create campus programming to expose members of the BSU community to Latin American culture. (Story and photo by John Winters, G ’11, University News & Media)