Margaret (Molly) Olsen

Professor of Hispanic & Latin American Studies
Trans-Atlantic literatures of the 16th and 17th centuries, and colonial and contemporary Afro-Caribbean texts

Neill Hall 200b
Telephone: 651-696-6885

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Margaret (Molly) Olsen specializes in Trans-Atlantic literatures of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, as well as Afro-Caribbean texts of the colonial and contemporary periods. She believes that history is generally exclusive and incomplete, and her central research focuses on textually recuperating discourses that have been historically suppressed. Much of her research, for example, reveals the complex levels at which peoples of African descent have participated in the writing of the New World. Professor Olsen is equally interested in how legacies of dominance inform the present reality of many peoples across the globe. Most recently, she has found powerful tools of analysis in the relationship between colonialism and ecocriticism as she explores discursive struggles over land and nature. Here, she discovers many pitfalls of globalization for postcolonial populations.

Teaching is the means by which Professor Olsen shares a passion for knowledge of the world and a love of artistic beauty. She hopes that her students will see that literature, history, language, art and nature are all pieces of the same complex system of global cultures. She also seeks to encourage her students to experience literature by reciting poetry and performing parts of the dramas they study in class. Outside of class, Molly finds solace among trees, birds, and cat pals (except when said cat pals are eating the birds). Nevermind a room of one’s own: she hopes to one day have a horse of her own. For curious readers, Dr. Olsen’s publications include Slavery and Salvation in Colonial Cartagena de Indias (University Press of Florida, 2004), and various articles and book chapters, including “La ceiba de la memoria: país solitario de diásporas innombrables.” in La ceiba de la memoria: aproximaciones críticas. (Bogotá, Colombia, forthcoming 2014), “The Gift of the New Orleans Second Line” in Neoliberalism and Global Theaters: Performance Permutations (Palgrave, 2012: 176-88), “‘¿Ley ser, morir el más feo?’: Calderón’s morisco gracioso Teases out Spain’s Violence” Bulletin of the Comediantes 62.2 (2010) 63–78, “Manzano’s Zafira and the Performance of Cuban Nationhood” Hispanic Review 75.2 (Spring 2007): 135–158, “Africans and Textual Marronage in Colonial Latin America.” Revista de Estudios Hispánicos 37.2 (2003): 229–47, and “La patología de la africanía en Del amor y otros demonios de García Márquez.” Revista Iberoamericana 68.102 (2002): 1067–80.

Dr. Olsen’s most recent research explores the performance of urban space in colonial and contemporary New Orleans.

PhD: Tulane University