Ilka Kressner

Ilka Kressner

Associate Professor of Hispanic Studies, LLC Chair
Department of Languages, Literatures & Cultures
Department of Africana, Latin American, Caribbean, and Latinx Studies


Humanities 223

PhD University of Virginia

Ilka Kressner



My scholarship and teaching examine Latin American film, literature, and visual arts (20th to 21st centuries) within a Pan-Latin American perspective, often with a comparative focus. I am interested in 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 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; with Alexander Gelley and Michael Levine). My second joint publishing venture, with 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 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.

Currently, I work on two individual book projects: the first one dedicated to the works of Colombian author William Ospina, tentatively titled, ‘“Man Doesn’t Know, But the Stone Remembers”: William Ospina’s Ecocritical Writings.’ The second one examines documentaries and feature films from Latin America 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.


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). In the summer of 2024, I will be a fellow at UTulsa’s Second Book Institute.  


Ecologies in Latin American Literature and Film (516)
Research Methods in Spanish American Literature and Cultural Studies (603)
Contemporary Latin American Fiction (537)
Latin American Film (514)
Legacy of the 60’s in Latin 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: portrayals of female figures in narco novels, feature films and telenovelas from Colombia, Mexico and Puerto Rico and their adaptations in the Global North; narrative and filmic responses to  the 1989 U.S. led 1989 invasion of Panama; forms of resisting cultural, social and religious repression against women in Ecuadorian fiction and film; memory writing from legacies of neglect in contemporary Spanish and Peruvian novels; the figure of the cyborg in contemporary Spanish American novels; baroque bodies in Post-Franco literature; portrayals of the female body in the literature about the feminicidios in Ciudad Juárez; imagination and the imaginary in the short stories by Colombian author Marvel Moreno and British writer Angela Carter; Spanish American experimental poetry; the concepts of consciousness and nothingness in the oeuvre of Venezuelan poet Hanni Ossott; and female detectives in contemporary Latin American fiction.