Doris Sommer

Ira Jewell Williams Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures

Department of Romance Languages and Literatures

Harvard University

Tel.: 617-495-5273



Curriculum Vitae




·        Ph.D., Comparative Literature, Rutgers University, 1977.

Dissertation, “Mann, Midrash, and Mimesis.”

·        M.A., Comparative Literature, Rutgers University, 1975.

·        M.A. Hispanic Literature, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 1970.

·        B.A., English Literature, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 1970.

·        B.A., cum laude, Spanish Language and Literature, Rutgers University, 1968.


Academic and Research Appointments


·        Director of Graduate Studies, Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, Harvard University, 2003 – present.

·        Director, Harvard Seminar of Latino Cultures, Harvard University, 1997-present.

·        Professor of Graduate Studies in Latin American Literature, Harvard University, 1991-present.

·        Visiting lecturer, School for Criticism and Theory, Cornell University, 2001.

·        Professor of Spanish and Women’s Studies, Amherst College, 1989-1991.

·        Assistant, then Associate Professor of Spanish, Amherst College, 1980-1989.

·        Assistant Professor of Spanish and Comparative Literature, Livingston College, 1978-1980.


Administrative Positions


·        Director, Cultural Agency Initiative, David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies (DRCLAS), Harvard University, 2002-present.

·        Coordinator, Harvard Winter Institute (Puerto Rico), DRCLAS.

·        Committees, Harvard University:

-         Executive Committee, DRCLAS

-         Ethnic Studies

-         American Civilization

-         Latin American Studies

-         Committee on Degrees in Literature

-         Committee on Degrees in History and Literature

-         Public Service Committee

·        Conference Coordinator, Harvard University:

-         “Bilingual Aesthetics, II,” March 2001.

-         “Bilingual Aesthetics,” December 1999.

-         Africa in the Americas,” February 1998.

-         “Politics and Performance,” April 1994.

-         “Nationalisms and Sexualities,” April 1989.

-         “The Americas,” an ongoing seminar at the Humanities Center, September 1996-present.

·        Conference Coordinator, “Cultural Agency in the Americas,” Social Science Research Council (SSRC); Cuzco, Peru, January 2001.




  • John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, January-December 1995, and
  • ACLS Fellowship, January-December 1995, for the completion of Proceed with Caution.
  • Program grants for Performance and Politics, DRCLAS, 1994.
  • American Express Grant, Ethics in the Professions, Summer, 1992.
  • Amherst College Faculty Research Grant, Summer, 1988.
  • Fellow, W. E. B. DuBois Institute, Harvard University, 1982‑83.
  • National Endowment for the Humanities Research Fellowship, 1982‑83, for the completion of One Master for Another.
  • Principal for group grants:

-         “Cultural Agency in the Americas,” a multi-year project through the SSRC, funded by the Ford Foundation.

-         “New American Studies,” a 4-year conference series at Harvard University, funded by the Rockefeller Foundation.

-         “Cultural Agency” workshop grant for Bellagio, October, 2001.

-         Radcliffe Institute Exploratory Seminar on Cultural Agency, December 2003.




·        Books:


1. Editor, Cultural Agency in the Americas, forthcoming from Duke University Press and

    Fondo de Cultura Económica (Bogotá).

2. Editor, Bilingual Games. New York: Palgrave, 2003.

3. Bilingual Aesthetics: A New Sentimental Education, forthcoming in 2004 from Duke

    University Press.

4. Proceed with Caution, when engaged by minority writing in the Americas

    (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999).

5. Editor, The Places of History: Regionalism Revisited in Latin America

    (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1999).

6. Editor, with Andrew Parker, Mary Russo, and Patricia Yaeger, Nationalisms &

    Sexualities (New York: Routledge, 1991).   

7. Foundational Fictions: The National Romances of Latin America (Berkeley:

    University of California Press, 1991).  Spanish edition forthcoming, Fondo de Cultura

    Economica, Mexico.

8. One Master for Another: Populism as Patriarchal Rhetoric in Dominican Novels

    (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1984).


·        Articles Related to Proceed with Caution:


1. “Slaps and Embraces: A Rhetoric of Particularism,” Ungovernability, ed. Ileana

    Rodríguez, forthcoming from Duke University Press.

2. “Where the Accent Falls,” Our America and José Martí, ed. Raúl Fernández,

    forthcoming from Duke University Press.

3. “Attitude, its Rhetoric,” The Turn to Ethics, ed. Marjorie Garber et al, (New York:

    Routledge, 2000).

4. “No todo se ha de decir: Cecilia no sabe; Beloved no cuenta,” Casa de las Américas

    (Summer 1999).

5. “Syncopate the State," Performance Studies, ed. Peggy Phelan (New York University

    Press, 1998).

6. “Puerto Rico a flote: Desde Hostos hasta hoy,” El Caribe entre imperios: coloquio de

    Princeton, ed. Arcadio Díaz Quiñones, et al (Río Piedras, PR: Universidad de Puerto

    Rico, 1996).

7. “Conocimiento Interruptus: una ética de lectura,” Las culturas de fin de siglo en

    América Latina, ed. Josefina Ludmer (Rosario, Arg.: Beatriz Viterbo, 1995).

8. “About Face: The Talker Turns,” Boundary 2 23.1 (Spring 1996).

9. “At Home Abroad: El Inca Shuttles With Hebreo,” Creativity and Exile, ed. Susan

    Suleiman, Poetics Today (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1998).

10. “Mosaic and Mestizo: Bilingual Love From Hebreo to El Inca,” Jewish Studies.

11. “Grammar Trouble: Cortázar's Critique of Competence,” Diacritics 25.1 (Spring


12. “Our Ame-Ríca,” Fieldwork, ed. Marjorie Garber, (New York: Routledge, 1995).

13. “Taking A Life: Hot Pursuit and Cold Rewards in Testimonial Novel,” Signs 20.4

      (Summer 1995)

14. “Textual Conquests: On Readerly Competence and ‘Minority’ Literature,” MLQ


15. “Who Can Tell?: Filling in the Blanks for Villaverde,” ALH 6.2 (1994).

16. “Resisting the Heat: Menchú, Morrison, and Incompetent Readers,” Cultures of

      United States Imperialism, eds. Donald Pease and Amy Kaplan, (Durham, NC: Duke

      University Press, 1994).

17. “Cortez in the Courts: The Traps of Translation from Newsprint to Film,” The

      Dissident  Spectator, ed. Marjorie Garber (New York: Routledge, 1993).

18. “Cecilia no sabe, o los bloqueos que blanquean,” Revista de critica literaria


19. “No Secrets,” The Real Thing: Testimonial Discourse and Latin America, ed. Georg

      M. Gugelberger (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1996)

20. “Resistant Texts and Incompetent Readers,” Poetics Today 15.2/3 (Summer/Fall


21. “Rigoberta's Secrets,” Latin American Perspectives, Testimonials Issue, ed. Georg M.

      Gugelburger 18.3 (1991).

22. “Not Just a Personal Story: Women's Testimonios and the Plural Self,  Life/Lines:

      Theoretical Essays on Women's Autobiography, eds. Celeste Schenck and Bella

      Brodzki (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1988).

23. “A Nowhere for Us: The Promising Pronouns of Cortázar's ‘Utopian’ Stories,”

      Dispositio IX/24-26; and in Discurso Literario 4.1.

24. “Whitman: The Bard of Both Americas,” Approaches to Teaching Whitman's Leaves

      of  Grass, ed. Donald D. Kummings (New York: Modern Language Association,


25. “Supplying Demand: Walt Whitman as the Liberal Self,” Reinventing the Americas:

      Comparative Studies of Literature of the United States and Spanish America, eds.

      Gari LaGuardia and Bell Chevigny (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1985);

      and in New Political Science 15 (Summer, 1986).


·        General Articles:


1. “Choose and Lose,” Multilingual America, ed. Werner Sollors, forthcoming from New

    York University Press.

2. “Contrapuntal Languages: The Games They Play,” to be published in a collection

    edited by Marc Shell.

3. “Counterdependency: Puerto Rico, the Semi-Colon(y),” to be published in a collection

    edited by Arcadio Díaz Quiñones.

4. “Nous York, Our Town, y la tuya,” forthcoming in After-Images of the City, eds.

    Dieter Ingenschay and Joan Ramon Resina.

5. “El contrapunteo latino entre el inglés y el español: notas para una nueva educación

    sentimental,” forthcoming in Prácticas, ed. Mabel Moraña (Pittsburgh, PA: Instituto


6. “American Projections of One-derland,” forthcoming in Latin@s in the 21st, ed.

    Marcelo Suárez Orozco (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press).

7. “For Love and Country, Fundar y fundir: Latin America’s Romances with Modernity,”

    forthcoming in  l romanzo, ed. Franco Moretti.

8. “Invitation to Bilingual Aesthetics,” MLA, Profession (2002).

9. “For Love and Money: Of Pot-Boilers and Precautions,” PMLA (Spring 2001).

10. “Puerto Rico Afloat,” The Cultures of the Hispanic Caribbean, ed. Conrad James and

      John Perivolaris (Gainseville, FL: University of Florida Press, 2000).

11. “Ilán Stavans, el José entre sus hermanos,” Revista Iberoamericana (Fall 2000).

12. “Be-longing and Bi-Lingual States,” Diacritics 29.4.

13. “A Vindication of Double Consciousness,” A Companion to Postcolonial Studies, ed.

      Henry Schwarz (New York: Blackwell, 1998); and forthcoming in a collection edited

      by Carlos Rincón.

14. “Either And,” with Alexandra Vega, the introduction to Yo-Yo Boing!, Giannina

      Braschi (Pittsburgh, PA: Latin American Literary Review Press, 1998).

15. “La pienezza della narrativa romantica: Mármol, Mera, Galván,  Issacs,” Storia della

      civilità letteraria ispanoamericana, vol. 2, eds. Dario Puccini and Saúl Yurkievich,

      (Torino: UTET, 1995).

16. “Irremediablemente humana: El Cetro de Sor Juana,” Lazarrillo 8 (1995).

17. “Introduction” and “Mirror, Mirror, in Mother's Room,” Mama Blanca's Memoirs,

      Teresa de la Parra, trans. Harriet de Onís and Frederick Fornoff (Pittsburgh, PA:

      Pittsburgh University Press, 1993).

18. “Borrón y cuenta nueva: Comienzos tardíos y (t)razas tempranas en Enriquillo,

      Cumandá, y Tabaré,” Casa de las Américas 187 (1992).

19. “Irresistible Romance: The Foundational Fictions of Latin America,” Nation and

     Narration, ed. Homi Bhabha (New York: Routledge, 1990).

20. “Allegory and Dialectics: A Match Made in Romance,” Boundary 2 18.1 (1991).

21. “El mal de María: (Con)fusión en un romance nacional,” MLN (March 1989).

22. “When History Was Romance in Latin America,” Salmagundi 82-83 (Spring 1989).

23. “Sab c'est moi,” Hispamérica 48 (1987); and in Genders 2 (Summer 1988).

24. “El género desconstruido: Cómo releer el canon a partir de La Vorágine,” Ensayos

      sobre  La vorágine, ed. Montserrat Ordóñez (Madrid: Alianza, 1988).

25. “Plagiarized Authenticity: Sarmiento's Cooper and Others,” Do the Americas Have a

      Literature?, ed. Gustavo Pérez Firmat (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1990).

26. “Galván's Foundational Fiction and Populist Revisions by Bosch and Marrero

      Aristy,” Revista Iberoamericana 142 (1988).

27. “The Boom in Spanish American Literature: A General Introduction,” with George

      Yúdice, Postmodern Fiction: A Bio‑Bibliographical Guide, ed. Larry McCaffery

      (Westfield, NY: Greenwood Press, 1986).

28. “America as Desire(d): Nathaniel Tarn's Poetry of the Outsider as Insider,” American

      Poetry (Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico, 1984); and in Dialectical

      Anthropology  2.2-4 (1986).

29. “National Romance and Populist Rhetoric in Spanish America,” Europe and its

      Others  (Colchester: Essex University, 1985).

30. “Thomas Mann's Gentle Prophetic Voice,” Poetic Prophecy in Western Literature,

      eds. Jan Wojcik and Ramond-Jean Frontain (Cranbury, NJ: Fairleigh Dickenson

      University Press, 1984).

31. “Populism as Rhetoric: The Dominican Republic," Boundary 2 XI.1-2  (Fall/Winter


32. “Good‑bye to the Revolution and the Rest: Aspects of Post‑1965 Dominican

      Narrative,”  Latin American Literary Review (Sept. 198l).

33. “Pattern and Predictability in the Stories of Julio Cortázar,” The Contemporary Latin

       American Short Story, ed. Rose Minc (New York: Senda de ediciones, 1979).

34. “History and Romanticism in Pedro Mir's Cuando amaban las tierras comuneras,”

       Revista de Estudios Hispánicos (Río Piedras, PR: Unversidad de Puerto Rico, 1979).