Cultural Vaivén: Celebrating the Life and Work of Judith Ortiz Cofer

June 28, 2018 edited by Michele Shaul and Kathryn Quinn-Sánchez
Filed under: Special Issue on Judith Ortiz Cofer 

Introduction: Cultural Vaivén: Celebrating the life and work of Judith Ortiz Cofer

By Melissa D. Birkhofer

Melissa D. Birkhofer is a lecturer in the Department of English at Western Carolina University. She teaches in the Writing, Rhetoric, and Critical Studies program and facilitates the Josefina Niggli Latinx Speakers Series. She has published articles on Latinx Literature in Rocky Mountain Review of Language and Literature and The Latin Americanist.

Visiting Your Grave

By Ilan Stavans

Ilan Stavans is Lewis-Sebring Professor of Humanities, Latin American and Latino Culture at Amherst College and publisher of Restless Books. His books include Latino USA: A Cartoon History (2000), On Borrowed Words (2002), Spanglish (2004), Dictionary Days (2008), and Quixote (2015). He is general editor of The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature. The host of the PBS podcast In Contrast, he has translated Jorge Luis Borges, Pablo Neruda, and Juan Rulfo into English, Emily Dickinson, Elizabeth Bishop, and Richard Wilbur into Spanish, Isaac Bashevis Singer from Yiddish, Yehuda Halevi from Hebrew, and Shakespeare and Cervantes into Spanglish. The recipient of numerous awards and honors, his work has been adapted into film and theater.

From Silence to Song: Reading the Therapeutics of Expression in Judith Ortiz Cofer’s The Meaning of Consuelo

By Paula Michelle Rawlins

Paula Rawlins earned an MA in English from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in 2010 and is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Georgia, where she teaches composition, serves as Assistant to the Writing Center Coordinator, and studies American literature, focusing on African-American and southern women writers of the 20th century.

“Those Who Should Know Better”: Teaching Judith Ortiz Cofer’s “The Myth of the Latin Woman” at a Predominately White Institution

By Sarah K. Cantrell, Ph.D. 

Sarah K. Cantrell is on the faculty at The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, where she currently teaches first-year composition and world literature. She earned her doctorate in comparative literature from The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in 2010. Her scholarship has appeared in Children’s Literature Association Quarterly, Children’s Literature, Children’s Literature in Education, and The Lion and the Unicorn. Her most recent essay appears in the collection Time Lords & Tribbles, Winchesters & Muggles (2017).

An Interview with Judith Ortiz Cofer: A Latina Writer in the Piney Woods of Georgia.

The Landscape Has Changed Us

By Rafael Ocasio

Rafael Ocasio (PhD, Latin American Literatures, University of Kentucky, 1987) is Charles A. Dana Professor of Spanish at Agnes Scott College, Decatur-Atlanta, Georgia. He is the author of Cuba’s Political and Sexual Outlaw (UP of Florida, 2003), Latin American Culture and Literature (Greenwood Press, 2004), The Making of a Gay Activist (UP of Florida, 2007) and Afro-Cuban Costumbrismo: From Plantations to the Slums (UP of Florida, 2012). He has completed a book manuscript under revision: Franz Boas in Porto Rico: Retention and Reinvention of Puerto Rican Folklore and is currently working on a major project that explores the under-documented slave trade between Cuba and Rhode Island. His email is

A Tribute to Judith Ortiz Cofer

By Marilisa Jiménez García

Marilisa Jiménez García is Assistant Professor of English and Latin American Studies at Lehigh University. She is an interdisciplinary scholar specializing in Latinx literature and culture. She is particularly interested in the intersections of race, gender, nationalism, and youth culture in Puerto Rican literature of the diaspora. Jiménez García also specializes in literature for youth and how marginalized communities have used children’s and young adult texts as a platform for artistic expression, collective memory, and community advocacy. Her research appears in publications such as Latino StudiesThe Lion and the Unicorn, and CENTRO Journal. Her book project, Side-by-Side: The Puerto Rican Roots of American Youth Literature and Culture, is under contract with University Press of Mississippi. She is graduated with her PhD from the University of Florida and completed postdoctoral work at the Center for Puerto Rican Studies, Hunter College, City University of New York.


Para la prima Judith Ortiz Cofer

By Ricardo Nazario y Colón

Ricardo Nazario y Colón is a co-founder of the Affrilachian Poets a multicultural regional collective of writers and artist, which was established in Kentucky in 1991. He is the author of “Of Jíbaros and Hillbillies” from Plain View Press, 2010 and Recital chapbook from Winged City Press, 2011. He has been published in various publications and anthologies including Resisting Arrest – Jacar Press 2016, and Hard Lines – University of South Carolina 2016. He has studied at Fordham University, The University of Kentucky and Pace University. Currently, he serves at the Chief Diversity Officer for Western Carolina University and was recently appointed to the Advisory Council on Latino/a-Hispanic Affairs for the Governor of North Carolina.


Or, perhaps when people ask what I wish to do when I grow up, I could respond, “be Latina.”

 By Alli Rios

Alli Rios (Puerto Rican) is a recent graduate of Western Carolina University. She holds a BA in English and Spanish and plans to continue her education with a Master’s in museum studies and a concentration on Latin American Art. Vitiligo is her first publication.

A Literary Inspiration

By Kelsey Woodburn

Kelsey Woodburn is a first-year graduate student in English Studies at Western Carolina University. Her concentration is in Professional Writing. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in English Professional Writing. Her publications can be found in Asymptote: International Literary Translation Journal (online).