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Esther L. Gabara, E. Blake Byrne Associate Professor of Romance Studies and Associate Professor of Art, Art History & Visual Studies


    20th Century Latin American Visual Culture and Literature
    Theory & Criticism

Research Interests:

Current projects:

    "Non-Literary Fictions: Inventions and Interventions in Contemporary Latin American Art"

Esther Gabara received her PhD from Stanford University in 2001. Her main area of specialization is the relationship between literature and visual culture in modern and contemporary Latin America. Her research has examined photography in the Americas in terms of its impact on theories of ethics and aesthetics, the formulation of non-mainstream modernisms, and questions of race and gender. Her book, Errant Modernism: The Ethos of Photography in Mexico and Brazil, was published by Duke University Press in 2008. Her teaching in the departments of Romance Studies and Art, Art History & Visual Studies at Duke University covers topics of Mexican visual culture and politics, Latin American modernisms, and contemporary urban cultural production in the Americas. She is currently working on a new book project on theories of fiction in contemporary artistic and popular visual culture, entitled "Non-Literary Fictions: Invention and Interventions in Contemporary Latin American Visual Culture."


  • Ph.D. Stanford University 2001
  • M.A. Stanford University 1997
  • B.A. University of Pennsylvania 1993

Contact Info:

Office Location:  212 Language Center, Department of Romance Studies, Durham, NC 27708-0257
Office Phone:   (919) 660-3100
Email Address:   egabara@duke.edu
Web Page:  

Office Hours:

Tuesdays 10:30-12 and by appointment. Location varies between 212 Languages and Global Brazil Lab, Smith Warehouse, Bay 5.Teaching (Fall 2016):

  • Romst 590s.01, Sem romance studies(top) Synopsis
    Smith wrhs b189, M 01:40 PM-04:10 PM

Representative Publications   (More Publications)

  1. Gabara, E. Errant Modernism: The Ethos of Photography in Mexico and Brazil. .A John Hope Franklin Center BookDuke University Press, (November, 2008). [ref=sr_1_1]
  2. Gabara, EL. "Fighting It Out: Being Naco in the Global Lucha Libre." Journal of Decorative and Propaganda Arts. Mexico Issue vol. 26 (2010): 277-300. [html]
  3. Gabara, EL. "Perspectives on Scale: From the Atomic to the Universal." Art and Globalization. Edited by Elkins, J; Kim, AS; Valiavicharska, Z.  (2010): 200-204. [html]
  4. Gabara, EL. "Recycled Photographs: Moving Still Images of Mexico City, 1950/2000." Double Exposure: Photography and Literature in Latin America. Edited by Schwartz, M; Tierney-Tello, MB.  (2006): 139-172. [ref=sr_1_1]
  5. Gabara, EL. ""Cannon and Camera": Photography and Colonialism in the Américas." ELN  vol. 44 no. 2 (Winter, 2006): 45-64. [pdfviewer]
  6. Gabara, EL. "Facing Brazil: The Problem of Portraiture and a Modernist Sublime." CR: The New Centennial Review  vol. 4 no. 2 (2004): 33-76. (Special issue entitled “Phosphorescent Memory: Visual Culture in the Americas”) [html]
  7. Gabara, EL. "’Nunca olhei tão olhado em minha vida e está sublime’: O (auto)retrato e a fotografia na obra de Mário de Andrade." A Historiografia Literária e as Técnicas de Escrita. Do Manuscrito ao Hipertexto. Edited by Süssekind, F; Dias, T.  (2004): 169-190.

Selected Invited Talks

  1. Nostalgic Critique: Contemporary Photography as Non-literary Fiction, December 03, 2010, The Itinerant Languages of Photography. Princeton University, Princeton, NJ    
  2. Modernist Tourists in Mexico., October 14, 2010, Paul Strand in Mexico. Aperture Foundation, New York, New York    
  3. Gesture: Signs of the Body in Visual Studies, May 28, 2010, The 2010 Visual Culture Studies Conference. Institute for Modern and Contemporary Culture at University of Westminster, London, United Kingdom    
  4. “Drawn: The New Art of Making Fiction”, December 02, 2009, Centre for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, University of Manchester. Manchester, United Kingdom.    
  5. "Queer Surrealism: As peripheral surrealism", July 23, 2009, Surrealism and Non-Normative Sexualities. Seminar at The Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. Cambridge, MA.    
  6. "The “Quasi-Corpus," Habeas Corpus, and Relative Democracy: The Cutting Intimacy of Non-Literary Fiction, April 13, 2009, Department of Romance Studies, Cornell University. Ithaca, New York.    
  7. "Misplaced Influence: Art Histories of and from Continental America", February 14, 2009, Courtauld Institute of Art, London, England [pdf]    
  8. “Errant Landscapes: Mário de Andrade Surveys Brazil”, April 14, 2008, University of California, Berkeley    
  9. “Juro que es mujer: El increíble archivo fotográfico de Conchita Jurado y don Carlos Balmori.”, October 11, 2007, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana (UAM)-Cuajimalpa, Mexico City, Mexico.    
  10. "What Women Do to and in the Casasola Archive, and What it Means About Mexican Photography Today", May 25, 2005, El Museo del Barrio, New York, NY.    
Selected Conference Talks

  1. “Modernist Ethics: Really Engaging Popular Culture”, September 06, 2007, LASA (Latin American Studies Association) Convention    
  2. “Incarnating Fiction, Dissecting Violence: Artur Barrio’s Livro de Carne”, October 13, 2006, Brazilian Studies Association, Vanderbilt University    
  3. Obscuring Vision: Puerto Rican Marginality and Visual Culture, March 17, 2006, Latin American Studies Association. Puerto Rico.    
  4. Arte acción— Acción histórica— Acción textual, April 01, 2005, Carolina Conference on Romance Literatures, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill    
  5. Apprentice Tourist, Expert Modernist: Mário de Andrade and a (Brazilian) Theory of Modernism, February 20, 2004, College Arts Association Annual Conference. Seattle, WA    
  6. “Interdisciplinary Caribbean Studies.”, April 12, 2002, Annual Conference of the American Comparative Literature Association. Universidad de Rio Piedras, San Juan, Puerto Rico