Alex Brostoff joined the Kenyon community in 2022, and is a writer, translator, and Assistant Professor of English. Their research and pedagogy converge at the crossroads of cultural criticism, critical theory, and queer and transfeminist cultural production in twentieth and twenty-first century hemispheric American Studies. Brostoff’s current book project probes the political potentiality of genre-defying bodies of theory — from “theory in the flesh” to “autotheory” and beyond. The study compares the historically and culturally specific ways marginalized writers have reconceived the relationship between self-figuration and structural critique across the Americas.

They are the guest co-editor of a special issue of ASAP/Journal on “autotheory” and their scholarship, translations, and public writing have appeared in journals including Critical Times, Synthesis, Assay, and Hyperallergic, among others. At UC Berkeley, they were honored to receive the Professor Norman Jacobson Memorial Teaching Award, the Lili Fabilli and Eric Hoffer Essay Prize, and the Andrew W. Mellon-funded Cal Performances Grant in arts-integrated curricula. 

Brostoff has taught at UC Berkeley, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Middlebury-Monterey Language Academy, as well as in bilingual education in New York City, Buenos Aires, and Salvador, Brazil.

Areas of Expertise

20th and 21st century hemispheric American studies; queer & transfeminist cultural production; autotheory.

Education

2021 — Doctor of Philosophy from Univ. of California Berkeley

2013 — Master of Arts from University of Alabama

2009 — Bachelor of Arts from Sarah Lawrence College

Courses Recently Taught

Each section of these first-year seminars approaches the study of literature through the exploration of a single theme in texts drawn from a variety of literary genres (such as tragedy, comedy, lyric poetry, epic, novel, short story, film and autobiography) and historical periods. Classes are small, offering intensive discussion and close attention to each student's writing. Students in each section are asked to work intensively on composition as part of a rigorous introduction to reading, thinking, speaking and writing about literary texts. During the semester, instructors will assign frequent essays and may also require oral presentations, quizzes, examinations and research projects. This course is not open to juniors and seniors without permission of the department chair. Offered every year.

Each section of these first-year seminars approaches the study of literature through the exploration of a single theme in texts drawn from a variety of literary genres (such as tragedy, comedy, lyric poetry, epic, novel, short story, film and autobiography) and historical periods. Classes are small, offering intensive discussion and close attention to each student's writing. Students in each section are asked to work intensively on composition as part of a rigorous introduction to reading, thinking, speaking and writing about literary texts. During the semester, instructors will assign frequent essays and may also require oral presentations, quizzes, examinations and research projects. This course is not open to juniors and seniors without permission of department chair. Offered every year.

What gives a literary text its meaning? Does a text simply contain meaning, or is that meaning shaped by social contexts, history, even the act of reading itself? Literary theory attempts to answer these questions by examining the ways in which we interpret the texts we read. This course will introduce students to some of the most important movements in literary theory over the last century with a particular focus on structuralism and poststructuralism, Marxism, feminism, deconstruction and postcolonialism. In addition, we will read short stories and two or three novels to develop our skills at reading and writing with theory. This counts toward the approaches to literary study or methods requirement for the major. Open only to first-year and sophomore students. Prerequisite: ENGL 103 or 104.

This course serves as an introduction to the literature and film produced by and about U.S. Latinos and Latinas, and to the theoretical approaches, such as borderlands theory, which have arisen from the lived experience of this diverse group. By focusing on the Latino/a experience, and situating it squarely within an American literary tradition, the course examines the intersections of national origin or ancestry with other identity markers such as gender, race and sexuality. We take an interdisciplinary approach that seeks to connect literature and film with history, political science, psychology, art, sociology and so on. Thus, students read not only literary works, both visual and written, but also related works in other disciplines that speak to the issues raised by the texts. Specifically, the course critically explores the effects and literary expressions of internal and external migration, displacement and belonging, nation and citizenship, code switching and other ways in which Latinos and Latinas have made sense of their experiences in the United States. Beginning with 16th-century accounts by Spaniards in areas that would eventually become part of the United States, and moving to the present day, the class familiarizes students with the culture(s) of a group that plays an important role in our national narrative, and with the issues that this group grapples with on our national stage. This counts toward the post-1900 or diversity requirement. Open only to first-year and sophomore students who have taken ENGL 103 or 104.

This course serves as an introduction to the literature in English of Latin American and U.S. Latino(a) writers. Through both written works and films, we examine the themes, critical issues, styles and forms that characterize the literature of this "other" America. The course expands the notion of what is widely considered as "American" literature by examining works (some originally written in English and others translated into English) produced in both the hemispheric and U.S. contexts of "America." We begin with the Cuban Alejo Carpentier, the Colombian Gabriel García Márquez and the Mexican Laura Esquivel, using rhetorical and cultural analysis to discuss how issues of colonization, slavery, the clash of cultures and U.S. intervention are represented within the texts. We then migrate north into the United States to read essays by Gloria Anzaldúa and Chérrie Moraga, poetry by Miguel Piñero, and a memoir of migration by Esmeralda Santiago. These and other texts help us to explore questions such as: What general similarities and differences can we identify between Latin American and Latino(a) literature? How are individual and national identities constructed in popular films by Latin Americans, and by U.S. filmmakers about Latino(a)s? Is there a difference between Hispanic and Latino(a)? This counts toward the approaches to literary study or the post-1900 requirements for the major. Prerequisite: junior standing or ENGL 210-291 or permission of instructor.