Clara Román-Odio, recipient of the Senior Faculty Trustee Teaching Excellence Award (2017), joined the Kenyon faculty in 1992. Professor of Spanish, Latin American Literature and Latino Studies, Román-Odio’s research aims at understanding the impact of decolonial theory, critical gender and race studies on cultural productions from Latin American and the U.S.-Mexico borderland. Her scholarship in transnational feminisms and oral history examines how women of color helped to shape and transform the spaces where society produces its laws and social norms. Author of several books and numerous scholarly publications in her areas of expertise, Román-Odio recently had her Ohio Humanities Digital Exhibition Latinos in Rural America (LiRA) included in The Smithsonian Institution’s Traveling Exhibition Series. 

'Spiritist Women in Puerto Rico (1880-1920)'

Recipient of the PEN of Puerto Rico International Award  in the Category of Essay, second place Literature Prize in the the Category of Research and Criticism from the The Instituto de Literatura Puertorriqueña, and the 2023 International Latino Book Award (Honorable Mention) in the Category of Non-Fiction - Women's Theme.  

In her award-winning book, Román-Odio rescues and examines the literature of pioneer spiritists who, as practitioners of Spiritism, helped transform Puerto Rican society during its disruptive colonial transition from Spain to the United States. A related digital project: "Spiritism by Puerto Rican Women: From Remarkable Pioneers to Contemporary Heirs" preserves this element of Puerto Rican history, religious culture and literature.

Areas of Expertise

Latin America / Latino cultural productions, border studies, transnational feminisms


1993 — Doctor of Philosophy from UNC Chapel Hill

1983 — Master of Arts from Purdue Univ West Lafayette

1981 — Bachelor of Arts from Univ Puerto Rico Mayaguez

Courses Recently Taught

This course presents an overview of the Spanish American short story from 1940 to the present. It examines the antecedents of the new Spanish American narrative, the so-called "Spanish American Boom," and a narrative of the periphery. The national literature of the "boom" is read with attention to subgenres such as the fantastic, magic realism and the marvelous real. It shows how these subgenres are transformed and eventually challenged by an ethnic, feminine and postmodern narrative, which instead of focusing on the representation of the nation explores other social subjects and forms of cultures. Among the authors included are Jorge Luis Borges, Juan Rulfo, Julio Cortázar, Carlos Fuentes, Gabriel García Márquez, Luisa Valenzuela, Isabel Allende, Ana Lydia Vega, Diamela Eltit, Ricardo Piglia and Elena Poniatowska. Prerequisite: SPAN 321 or equivalent. Generally offered every three years.

This course is designed to introduce students to the literary trends and the poetics that underlie 20th-century Spanish American poetry, including those labeled "modernism," "avant-garde," "social poetry," "anti-poetry" and "conversationalism." Through close readings of representative works, the course examines the representation of nation, class, gender, ethnicity and sexuality by the practice of these poetics. Some of the authors included are: Martí, Darío, Mistral, Vallejo, Storni, Girondo, Huidobro, Borges, Guillén, Neruda, Lezama Lima, Burgos, Paz, Parra, Cardenal, Castellanos, Benedetti, Varela, Gelman and Pacheco. Prerequisite: SPAN 321 or equivalent. Generally offered every three years.

This course offers an opportunity to study on an individual basis an area of special interest — literary, cultural or linguistic — under the regular supervision of a faculty member. It is offered primarily to candidates for honors, to majors and, under special circumstances, to potential majors and minors. Individual study is intended to supplement, not to take the place of, regular courses in the curriculum of each language program. Staff limitations restrict this offering to a very few students. To enroll in an individual study, a student must identify a member of the MLL department willing to direct the project and, in consultation with him or her, write a one-page proposal for the IS, which must be approved by the department chair before it can go forward. The proposal should specify the schedule of reading and/or writing assignments and the schedule of meeting periods. The amount of work in an IS should approximate that required on average in regular courses of corresponding levels. Typically, an IS earns the student 0.25 or 0.5 units of credit. At a minimum, the department expects the student to meet with the instructor one hour per week. Because students must enroll for individual studies by the end of the seventh class day of each semester, they should begin discussion of the proposed individual study by the semester before, so that there is time to devise the proposal and seek departmental approval.