photo Carmen Serrano

Carmen Serrano

Assistant Professor of Hispanic and Italian Studies

Degree/Institution: PhD University of California, Irvine
Office: HU 227
Phone: (518) 442-4222/4100


Academic Focus

Research: 20th – 21st century Latin American narrative; Magical Realism, the Fantastic, and the Gothic in Latin American literature; Transatlantic Studies; Latin American Historical Fiction; U.S. Latina and Latino Literature and Cultural Studies. 

Teaching: History and the Novel in Latin American Literature,
The Novel of the Mexican Revolution, Latin American Literature: Illusion, Fantasy, and Magical Realism, From Novel to Film: Latin American Texts on the Big Screen, Myth, Apparitions and the Haunted in Latin American Literature, Introduction to Latin American Short Story


Carmen Serrano graduated with a Ph.D. in Spanish with a specialization in Latin American literature from the University of California, Irvine in the fall of 2009.  Prior to joining our department, she was a Visiting Assistant Professor at Colgate University in Hamilton, New York and at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine.

Her book project Monsters, Vampires and Doppelgängers: Innovation and Transformation of Gothic Forms in Latin American Narratives is broadly situated within the interdisciplinary field of cultural studies framed in a transatlantic context. She explores the ways in which Augusto Roa Bastos in Yo El Supremo (1973), Carlos Fuentes in Aura (1962) and Juan Rulfo in Pedro Páramo (1955) mobilize Gothic discursive practices and imagery to create alternative versions of the past that question national historical narratives.  At the same time, she discusses how the use of fear and the monstrous serve to articulate contemporary anxieties in a specific Latin American social-political crossroads. In addition to working on themes of the supernatural in literature and historical fiction, she has also written papers on the Novel of the Mexican Revolution and film. She has presented conference papers at the Mexican Conference, The International Gothic Association, Latin American Studies Association Conference, MESEA and the Latina/o Literary Theory & Criticism Conference.

Carmen Serrano's “Duplicitous Vampires Annihilating Tradition and Destroying Beauty in Froylán Turcios’s El vampiro” will appear in the 2018 edited collection Latin American Gothic in Literature and Culture (Routledge Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Literature). In the chapter she analyzes the understudied short novel El vampiro (1910) by Honduran modernista writer Froylan Turcios.  El vampiro (1910) syncretizes indigenous beliefs and colonial folktales with traditions found in Gothic-inspired literature to produce a modernista expression of the Gothic. Set in La Antigua, Guatemala, Turcios’s novel reverts to a Latin American era that commemorates colonial traditions and the indigenous past. Yet his novel also articulates feelings of displacement and dread for his contemporary world by evoking haunted spaces featuring a malevolent clergy, a vampire, and revenants, among other ominous creatures. To emphasize the perils of the industrial age on Central American culture, Turcios also evokes Guatemalan folktales and the nahual in the construction of his vampire villain, Fray Félix—a duplicitous priest and vampire in fiery pursuit of the novel’s young heroine. In El vampiro Turcios creates a socio-cultural amalgamated response through his artistic synthesis of the Guatemalan landscape, pre-Columbian worldviews, and local folktales, all of which further inform the novel’s Latin American Gothic identity. Additionally, the elicitation of the vampire and ill-omened doubles in the novel further allegorizes how science and progress, characterized as destructive forces in the text, subvert long-standing religious beliefs, threaten cultural heritage, and destroy beauty.