Introducing New Assistant Professor José Juan Villagrana
Tell us about your background as a scholar and teacher.
I’ve been engaged in research on sixteenth- and seventeenth-century English and Spanish literature and culture since my first year of college because the writings in this period, to my fascination and frustration, reflect and fuel the religious chauvinism and ethno-cultural bigotry that I saw growing up in my community. My teaching is grounded in the principle that all students can gain proficiency in reading the difficult texts of this era and that this proficiency translates into an elevated cultural and linguistic literacy. With this literacy, students are equipped to think critically about and communicate policy in their chosen profession.
What are you working on now?
I’m working on a book that shows how a sixteenth-century Spanish Dominican friar invented the myth that Indigenous peoples are innately innocent and then how European colonists appropriated for themselves this fiction of biological innocence to justify colonial violence and possession.
Why Santa Clara?
I came to SCU because the curriculum is flexible and invites innovation. Right away, for example, I can design and offer special topics courses in premodern literature such as Medieval Women Writers or Indigenous Voices in European Colonial Literature. I am also eager to have students take part in research opportunities that speak to their own interests and that examine the most pressing questions in the field of premodern literature and its significance today.
What do you do in your spare time?
In my spare time, I spoil my cat, Catricia, with treats and pets, and I play guitar in a local cover band.