Spanish & French Studies

Meet Viviana MacManus of Spanish and French Studies, an Oxy alumna who teaches courses on U.S. and transnational feminist movements, women of color, feminist research methods, race and gender in the media, as well as Latin American/Latinx film and literary studies and Latin American human rights.

What attracted you to Occidental?

Occidental has been always been a central part of my life. My mother was an adjunct in the Spanish department for many years, and as a child I would spend time on campus participating in summer programs. As an undergrad at Oxy, I valued the small, intimate setting of the classes and the mentorship I received from my professors. I loved the sense of community and the strong relationships formed between faculty, staff, and their families. I always considered Occidental an ideal place to work.
During my time in the Department of Critical Theory and Social Justice, I had the opportunity to teach bright, passionate students committed to combatting social inequalities. Teaching for social change is at the core of my classes, and I believe my courses have found a great home at Oxy. In a liberal arts college setting, I am also able to foment meaningful relationships with students and serve as mentor and advocate. As a woman of color professor, I take seriously my role as mentor and advocate to my students, and I am attuned to specific needs and challenges for students, particularly my first-generation students, students of color, queer, trans, and nonbinary students.

What do you look forward to most about returning to campus?

I cannot wait to reconnect with my students and teach in person again. Without a doubt, the best part of my job is teaching what I am most passionate about (Latin American literature, feminist studies, and human rights) and also learning from my students. Oxy students are some of the brightest and passionate students I have ever taught, and I am energized by their desire to learn and their commitment to social justice and social change. I also look forward to engaging with my colleagues on campus; academic work can be very isolating, and having a communal office space with my colleagues is rejuvenating and inspirational for my own research and pedagogical practices.

How does it feel to be teaching back at your alma mater? How has Oxy changed since your student days?

There have been some obvious cosmetic changes since my time as an undergrad (e.g. Berkus Hall is new, as well as the Green Bean), but one notable change has to do with the student body. Most of the students I have taught demonstrate not only a sophisticated grasp of rigorous, theoretical academic material, but they also exhibit a fervent commitment to challenging systemic inequalities in their communities and their worlds.

Returning to work at Oxy has been a lovely homecoming. I had the experience of teaching at a large public university (UC San Diego), as well as teaching at a mid-size public university on the East Coast (University of Maryland, Baltimore County); these experiences have been formative for my professional and personal growth, however, working at Oxy feels like coming home. As a native of Los Angeles with deep roots to the immigrant Mexican community in this city, I am thrilled that I get to bring my expertise in Latin American literary, feminist, and cultural studies to the Oxy community. It is a privilege to teach and research what I love and engage with students, faculty, staff, and the Oxy community in my hometown.