Ilka Kressner

Ilka Kressner

Associate Professor of Hispanic Studies, LLC Chair
Department of Languages, Literatures & Cultures
Department of Latin American, Caribbean & U.S. Latino Studies


Humanities 223

PhD University of Virginia

Ilka Kressner



My scholarship and teaching examine Spanish American literature, film and visual arts (20th to 21st centuries) within a Pan-Latin American perspective, often with a comparative focus. I am interested in contemporary Latin American film, literature and visual cultures, environmental humanities, ecofeminisms, conceptions of space in art and of art in space, and intermediality (word, sound, image). I am currently researching portrayals of water in Latin American eco-cinema (contamination, inundations, water shortage…); and examining alternatives to colonial and neocolonial conceptions of ecology in literature, film and ‘artivism’ from the region.



My book Sites of Disquiet: The Non-Space in Spanish American Short Narratives and Their Cinematic Transformations (Purdue UP, 2013) analyzes representations of alternative spaces, among those, sites of deferral, merging perspectives, darkness and emptiness, in Spanish American short narratives and their adaptations to the screen. I have co-edited Walter Benjamin Unbound (2015, special issue of Annals of Scholarship Vols. 21:1 and 2; together with Alexander Gelley and Michael Levine). My second joint publishing venture, with colleagues Ana María Mutis (Trinity U) and Elizabeth Pettinaroli (Rhodes C) is Ecofictions, Ecorealities and Slow Violence in Latin America and the Latinx World (Routledge, 2020). Our edited volume examines the topic of ecological violence, particularly in the context of “slow violence” (Rob Nixon; acts of violence that are invisible because they are dispersed across time and space) in Latin American and Latinx writings, films, visual arts and performances. We are currently at work towards a new edited volume on ecologies of resistance in Latin American and Latinx contexts.

My individual book project analyzes a selection of Latin American films from an elemental vantage point. It examines documentaries and feature films that represent water, air, fire and earth as powerful agents that connect the organic with the inorganic, expand beyond our human timeframes and spatial constructs. By doing so, such an elemental ecocriticism invites us to engage in more capacious modes of hospitality.


In fall of 2013, I was a Visiting Scholar at the Department of Comparative Literature at Harvard University. My research has received the support of an NEH Humanities Summer Stipend; Individual Development Awards (College of Arts and Sciences, University at Albany), Faculty Research Awards (FRAP-B, University at Albany), a Dr. Nuala McGann Drescher Award (semester-long leave, NYS/UUP Joint Labor-Management Committees), and a Conversations in the Disciplines Grant (The State University of New York, SUNY Central). 


Ecologies in Latin American Literature and Film (516)
Research Methods in Spanish American Literature and Cultural Studies (603)
Contemporary Spanish American Fiction (537)
Spanish American Film (514)
Legacy of the 60’s in Spanish American Literature (ASPN 513)
Colonial Literature from a Postcolonial Perspective (ASPN 644)
Literature and Human Rights (ASPN 446)
Popular Cultures in Latin America (ASPN 517)

Doctoral students working with me have worked or are currently working on topics such as: the female detective in contemporary Latin American fiction; Spanish American experimental poetry; imagination and the imaginary in the short stories by Colombian author Marvel Moreno and British writer Angela Carter; portrayals of the female body in the literature about the feminicidios in Ciudad Juárez; baroque bodies in Post-Franco literature; the figure of the cyborg in contemporary Spanish American novels; memory writing from legacies of neglect in contemporary Spanish and Peruvian novels; forms of resisting cultural, social and religious repression against women in Ecuadorian fiction and film; narrative and filmic responses to  the 1989 U.S. led 1989 invasion of Panama, and portrayals of female figures in narco novels, feature films and telenovelas from Colombia, Mexico and Puerto Rico.