Monique R. Balbuena

Monique Balbuena

Associate Professor of Comparative Literature and Jewish Studies | 541-346-2311 | 322 Chapman Hall

Winter 2022 Office Hours:

• Monday & Wednesday, 11:35am-12:35pm @ 313-A Villard

• Friday, 9-11 via Zoom

ACADEMIC AREAS: Comparative Literature and Jewish Studies, Sephardic Languages, Ladino, Poetry, French and Francophone Literatures, Latin American Studies

Past Courses

HC 221H In the Beginning…

HC 222H The Invention of Love

HC 223H Figurations of Femininity

HC 424H/421H The Jewish Diaspora in Latin America

HC 424H/421H Representing the Holocaust

HC 434H/421H Contemporary Jewish Writers

HC 434H/421H Sephardic Cultures: The History, Literature and Music of Iberian Jews

Academic Background

Ph.D., University of California - Berkeley, 2003
M.A., Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 1993
B.A., Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 1988

Professor Balbuena was a Starr Fellow at the Center for Jewish Studies at Harvard University before joining the Clark Honors College in 2004. In addition to her teaching in the honors college, she is a participating faculty in the Comparative Literature and Romance Languages departments. Professor Balbuena is also active with the Jewish Studies program, where she sits on the executive committee; the Latin American Studies program, for which she served as interim director in 2014-15; and the Women and Gender Studies program. She is a member of the Center for the Study of Women in Society's Women of Color Project, sits on the executive board for the Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies, is chair of the Curriculum Committee in the University Senate, and is extremely active with the university's Global Studies Institute, where she participates in working groups on Brazil, Israel, and translation.

Outside of the university, Balbuena sits on the editorial boards of The Journal of Jewish Identities, The Levantine Review, and The Journal for the Study of Sephardic and Mizrahi Jewry. She is editor of modern literature for The Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World. Balbuena is fluent in Portuguese, English, French, Spanish, Hebrew, Ladino and Italian, and has functional knowledge in Arabic, Catalan, Galician, and Yiddish.

Research Interests & Current Projects

Monique Balbuena is a translator and a scholar of comparative literature and Jewish studies. Her research interests concern the relationship between language and identity, specifically how multilingual writers construct their identity through their choice of languages and intertexts. She has focused on literatures from North Africa's Maghreb and Latin America, and also given special attention to literatures by Sephardic Jews - roughly defined as those whose origins are in the Iberian Peninsula of Spain - especially works written in Ladino, the Sephardic language. She is among a handful of scholars examining the production of contemporary literature, particularly poetry, in Ladino. Balbuena analyzes Ladino not only within the landscape of Jewish literature, but also within the context of how literature written in minor languages informs our reading of canonical works.

Professor Balbuena is currently working on two book projects: Sephardic Literary Responses to the Holocaust, and Ladino Today: Cultural Representation, Language Revival and National Identity.

Awards & Fellowships

  • 2014: Jack and Anita Hess Faculty Seminar on Holocaust Literature, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum - Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies
  • 2012: Mellon Collaborative Summer Fellowship
  • 2008: National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute
  • 2008: University of Oregon Faculty Summer Research Award
  • 2006: Faculty Research Fellowship, Oregon Humanities Center, University of Oregon
  • 2005: New Faculty Summer Research Award, University of Oregon
  • 2003: Harry Starr Fellowship in Judaica, Harvard University - Center for Jewish Studies
  • 2003: Newhouse Foundation Fellowship, University of California - Berkeley, Jewish Studies Program
  • 2003: American Sephardi Federation, Broome and Allen Scholarship


  • 2012: Publication Grant from the Lucius L. Littauer Foundation
  • 2010: Grant from the Frankel Institute on Jewish Languages at the University of Michigan
  • 2006: Curland Grant for Language and Gender Studies, Center for the Study of Women in Society & Yamada Language Center, University of Oregon
  • 2006: Research Grant, Center for the Study of Women in Society, University of Oregon
  • 2004: Koret Foundation Publishing Grant
  • 2003: Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture, Doctoral Scholarship Grant

Selected Publications

Books & Edited Volumes Book Cover of Homeless Tongues by Monique Balbuena

Book Chapters and Articles

  • 2016, "Ladino in US Literature and Song," The Cambridge History of Jewish American Literature (edited by In Hana Wirth-Nesher), Cambridge University Press.
  • 2014, "When the Eye Meets the World: Reading Subjectivity in Two Poems by Carlos Drummond de Andrade," Portuguese Literary & Cultural Studies, n.26: 127-141.
  • 2012, "Judeo-Spanish Texts in Latin American Genres: Language Revival and National Identity in Contemporary Argentina," Selected Papers from the Fifteenth British Conference on Judeo-Spanish Studies (edited by Hilary Pomeroy, Christopher J. Pountain and Elena Romero), Queen Mary University of London.
  • 2012, "Ladino in Latin America: An Old Language in the New World," Contemporary Sephardic Identity in the Americas: An Interdisciplinary Approach (edited by In Margalit Bejarano and Edna Aizenberg), Syracuse University Press.
  • 2011, "Athens, Salonika & Israel in Margalit Matitiahu’s Poetry," Cadernos de Língua e Literatura Hebraica, n.9: 67-79.