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Passport to Everywhere

McMicken's new faculty member brings her abundant knowledge of other cultures to the department of Romance Languages and Literatures.

Date: 4/6/2009
By: Kim Burdett
Phone: (513) 556-8577
Photos By: Kim Burdett
Patricia Valladares-Ruiz loves to travel. And it’s a good thing; in her line of work, traveling is practically a prerequisite.
As a new assistant professor of Romance Languages and Literatures, she concentrates on Caribbean literatures and cultural studies.
“You need to travel if you’re working in cultural studies,” she says. “I’m always trying to find new information and discover new things that may be potentially used in my research. I’m constantly searching for books or an interesting film when I visit another country.”

Patricia Valladares-Ruiz
Patricia Valladares-Ruiz has taught culture and language at many other institutions before arriving at UC.

Her background is just as diverse as her passport stamps, which include Scotland, Wales and France—in the past year alone. Born in Venezuela, Valladares-Ruiz has lived in Montreal and Spain before moving to the United States.

Now, she’s bringing her passion for culture to University of Cincinnati.

Valladares-Ruiz started teaching at UC in September but has actively taught since her days as a teaching assistant at the University of Zulia, where she studied journalism and Hispanic languages and literatures at the undergraduate level. She also received a master’s in linguistics from the University of Zulia. In 2000, she received her master’s in Hispanic studies from McGill University and a PhD in literature from University of Montreal in 2005.

Before her arrival in Cincinnati, Valladares-Ruiz taught at an array of other schools as well, including McGill University, University of Quebec in Trois-Rivières, University of Montreal and Concordia University.

“To research then teach the things I’ve learned every time I discover something new is a privilege,” she says. “I like to share that excitement and see that excitement in younger faces. That’s what I love most about teaching; the exchange of knowledge between the student and the instructor is great.”

It’s safe to say teaching is, in fact, in her blood. Valladares-Ruiz has two parents who taught at the university level, and she and her sister have both taught at her alma mater.

Valladares-Ruiz even remembers sitting in on her father’s psychology lectures as a child, hanging out in the back and having to remain quiet as he taught a class full of students.

“We both learned, my sister and me, the love for teaching,” she says.

Part of what brought Valladares-Ruiz to UC is her interests in both Hispanic and Francophone literatures and cultures. Her research areas include studying Caribbean cultures, many of which have cross-cultural ties across the languages—a perfect discipline for a professor fluent in both French and Spanish.

Some of her interests include Afro-Caribbean religious practices, contemporary representations of slavery in Cuban literature and the construction of racial, gender and sexual identities in Caribbean cultural practices.

She is also working on her first book on national and sexual subjectivities in contemporary Cuban literature.

“This is a very interesting position for me because I’m privileged enough to work with students interested in both French and Hispanic Caribbean literatures and cultures,” she explains. “It’s really interesting to be on both sides.”

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