Brian Gollnick, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
Director, Latin American Studies Program

I work on modern Mexican and Latin American cultural history from a perspective broadly influenced by the thinking of Antonio Gramsci. I am particularly concerned with the interactions between cultures and with how cultural expression relates to social justice. These interests also influence my teaching, which aims to expose students to historical perspectives through objects of study including music, film, art, and literary texts. The study of literature forms part of a Liberal Arts education aimed at helping students find new interests and encouraging the skills and passions necessary for a life of sustained learning and development. This reflects my own experience. I started at university with the goal of becoming a research scientist, but the first two years of undergraduate showed a deeper calling in the Humanities. The greatest gift any teacher can give is the space to make that kind of discovery. Regardless of their career goals, students in my classes are asked to look at problems from unexpected angles and build confidence in their ability to assimilate new ideas and information. As all my research and teaching addresses how ideas move between cultures, I have started to work in recent years with students from our MFA program in Literary Translation. Both my parents were from Wisconsin, but they raised me in the Pacific Northwest. My undergraduate education in Comparative Literature is from the University of Washington in Seattle (1992) and my PhD in Literature is from the University of California, San Diego (1998). I have had the pleasure to work and spend time in a number of Latin American countries, including Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, the Dominican Republic, and Brazil. I encourage everyone to embrace the experience of living abroad as the greatest education of all. 

Professional and Academic Positions

  • Associate Professor of Spanish and Portuguese and Latin American Studies, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, 2006 - present
  • Assistant Professor Spanish & Portuguese, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, 1999 - 2006

Teaching at the University of Iowa

  • Modern Latin American literature, including: Spanish American Literature, Modern Mexico, Narratives of Underdevelopment, Juan Rulfo (undergraduate) and Latin American Literary & Cultural Theory, Spanish American Novel (1900-1960), Spanish American Novel (1960-present) Latin American Subaltern Studies (graduate seminar).

Grants and Awards

  • University Iowa College of Liberal Arts & Sciences Dean's Scholar, 2006-2008
  • Andrew W Mellon Fellowship in the Humanities, 1996-1997
  • Andrew W Mellon Fellowship in the Humanities, 1992-1994


  • 2008 – Reinventing the Lacandón: Subaltern Representations in Chiapas and the Lacandón Jungle. University of Arizona Press.


  • 2007 – "La guerra de alta intensidad: hacia una poética solidaria en John Silas Reed." Revista de Crítica Literaria Latinoamericana 66: 113-31.
  • 2005 – "Silent Idylls, Double Lives: Sex and the City in Salvador Novo's La estutua de sal." Mexican Studies / Estudios Mexicanos 21.5: 231-50.
  • 2003 – "'El color justo de la patria': agencia discursiva en El entenado de Juan José Saer," Revista de Crítica Literaria Latinoamericana 57: 107-24.
  • 1999 – "El ciclón de Chiapas: el desarrollo reciente del indigenismo mexicano Revista de Crítica Literaria Latinoamericana. 49: 199-216.

Book Chapters

  • 2006 – "Un mundo circular: la hegemonía autoritaria a partir de Amor perdido." El arte de la ironía: Carlos Monsiváis ante la crítica, Mabel Moraña and Ignacio Sánchez-Prado, eds. Mexico City: Ediciones Era. Forth-coming.
  • 2005 – "The Regional Novel and Beyond." Cambridge Companion to the Latin American Novel, Efraín Kristal, ed. Cambridge University Press. 44-58.
  • 2003 – "Approaches to Latin American Literature." A Companion to Latin American Studies, Philip Swanson, ed.. Arnold Publishers. 107-21.

Review Essays

  • 2004 – "History on Edge: María Josefina Salaña-Portillo's Revolutionary Imaginatio." A Contracorriente (Raleigh, NC) 1.2. 107-22.
  • 2002 – "Latin American US? (On Stavans's Essential Ilán Stavans and Hopscotch)." Minnesota Review. 55-57 337-44.
  • 1999 – Contested Ground: Comparative Frontiers on the Northern and Southern Edges of the Spanish Empire. Reviewed for the Arizona Journal of Hispanic Cultural Studies (3) 270-71.

Invited Lectures


  • 2004 – "De solicitudes e ilicitudes: El gallo de oro de Juan Rulfo y los estudios de lo subalterno." Instituto Pensar, Universidad Javeriana. Bogotá, Colombia. November 24th.
  • 2000 – "Rulfo en voz menor: textos sociales y autobiográficos en 'Diles que no me maten.'" Instituto de Estudios Literarios, Universidad de los Andes. Mérida, Venezuela, May. Also presented at the Universidad de los Andes branch campus in Trujillo, Venezuela.


  • 2006 – "Zapatista Discourse: Reading Subcomandante Marcos." University of Washington (Seattle). January 13th.
  • 2002 – "On the Threshold of Tomorrow: Imagining the Maya." Wellesley College. March 11th.

Conference Presentations

  • 2006 – "Rebels with a Cause Célèbre: la revolución literaria del subcomandante Marcos." Latin American Studies Association. San Juan, Puerto Rico, March 15th-18th.
  • 2004 – "'La peor de todas y por gusto: Diablo guardián de Xavier Velasco y las tretas del fuerte." Latin American Studies Association. Las Vegas, Nevada. October 7th-9th.
  • 2003 – "Espectros del poder: relecturas de la ciudad letrada." Latin American Studies Association. Dallas, Texas. April 27th-29th.
  • 2002 – "La patria perdida: agencia discursiva en El entenado de Juan José Saer." Instituto Internacional de Literatura Iberoamericana. Iowa City, July 2-6th.
  • 2001 – "Natalia's Lament: New Approaches to the Female Subaltern in Juan Rulfo." Modern Language Association. New Orleans, December 27th-29th. Session Chair.
  • 2001 – "The Bleeding Horizon: Subaltern Representation in Mexico's Neo-Indigenista Literature." Latin American Studies Association. Washington, DC. September 6-8.
  • 2000 – "Recalcitrant Sources: Latin American Subaltern Studies, the Case of Tomóchic." Middle American Conference on Hispanic Literature. Madison, Wisconsin. September 21-23.
  • 2000 – "Onda y re-escritura: Global Cultures and Narrative Arts." Margo Glantz Symposium. Iowa City, Iowa. April 27th, 2000.
  • 1999 – "The Destruction of Lacan-Tum: The Probanza de méritos as a Source of Subaltern History." Modern Language Association Convention, December 27th-30th, Chicago, Illinois.
  • 1999 – "Autoethnography and the Politics fo Representation in Contemporary Chiapas." Modern Language Association Convention, December 27th-30th, Chicago, Illinois.
  • 1998 – "Brother Guillén's Lament: Reading for the Subaltern on the Margins of the Maya Region, 1695." Forum on European Expansion and Global Interaction, April 3rd-4th, Huntington Library, San Marino, California.
  • 1997 – "'Even Better Than the Real Thing': polifonía y parodia en la literatura de la insurrección chiapaneca." Criticism and Art in Mexico, April 4th-5th, University of California, Irvine, Irvine, California. Published in Torre de papel 9.2 (1999) 133-41.
Brian Gollnick
PhD in Literature, University of California, San Diego, 1998
MA in Spanish, University of California, San Diego, 1996
BA in Comparative Literature, University of Washington (Seattle), 1992
Contact Information

683 Phillips Hall (PH)
Iowa City, IA 52242
United States