Associate Professor, Modern Languages & Literatures

Ph.D. Hispanic Literature, University of New Mexico-Albuquerque, 2004

M.A. Spanish, Washington State University, 1998

B.A. International Studies, & B.A., French, University of Idaho, 1995

Contact information

Patricia Catoira (
Dept. of Modern Languages and Literatures
118C Gaines Hall / PO Box 172980
Montana State University
Bozeman, MT 59717-2980
(406) 994-4447

Courses taught at MSU

Latin American Culture and Civilization
Culture and Revolution in Latin America
Hispanic Texts and Cinema
Travel in Latin American Literature and Film
Advanced Grammar and Phonetics
Contemporary Cuban Women Writers
Contemporary Cuban Literature
Women in Latin American Literature
Sexuality in Latin American Literature

Research Interests

Latin American literature and culture; Cuba (antislavery narratives, exile, Special Period); Women's and gender studies; Latin American migration to and cultural production in Spain since the 1990s

Recent publications/talks

As I began to read the vast opus of Latin American literature I initially became interested in the antislavery novels from nineteenth-century Cuba, especially the classic novel Cecilia Valdés about which I wrote my doctoral dissertation at the University of New Mexico. My first publications have dealt with issues of race, identity, and exile in Cuban literature.

More recently I have focused on the literature produced by Cubans inside and outside the island since the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991 especially regarding the theme of prostitution and sexual tourism. Right now I am working on a book about the representation of the prostitute in recent Latin American literature and I am also co-authoring a book about the literary and filmic representation of immigrants in Europe (in my case, those from Latin America and Morocco in Spain).

Genesis of your interest in Latin America

Growing up in Spain, Latin America was never in my radar. In school, the conquest of the Americas was barely discussed  and there was no reference to modern Latin America at all. In literature courses, I only remember reading Nicaraguan poet Ruben Darío as the one non-Spanish author. Outside school during these decades of the 1970s and 1980s, Spain was very much focused on modernizing and building a strong democratic state—after almost forty years of Francisco Franco’s dictatorship—and therefore the country looked to Europe and the United States.

Since I was young I always had a desire to travel and learn languages. I learned English in school and French at a language academy. After spending a year as an exchange student in Sandpoint, Idaho, I fell in love with the educational system of this country. I am not talking about the content (which I had some problems with) but about the philosophy of running the classroom and especially of encouraging students to ask questions and to fully engage in discussions with their teachers and peers (something unheard of in Spain). It was at the University of Idaho (where I majored in French and International Studies) and at Washington State University (where I received a Master’s degree in Spanish) where I discovered Latin America thanks to the enthusiasm and wealth of knowledge of amazing Spanish professors teaching at these two regional colleges.

Besides the obvious reasons for liking Bozeman, a big reason why I decided to take the professorship at Montana State University after finishing my PhD was because I wanted to emulate my professors from Idaho and Washington State by creating a strong Latin American program in our region that would captivate students for whom Latin America might have not been in their radar. I am very excited about this minor and the faculty and students who so enthusiastically support it.

A few of your own “must reads”

It is hard to pin down a must-read list of books from Latin America given the large number of countries and great writers. I am a big fan of short stories, a very popular genre in the region, and I try to use them in my class as much as possible. Some suggestions: Gabriel García Márquez’s Cien años de soledad, Roberto Fernández Retamar’s Calibán, Mario Vargas Llosa’s La ciudad y los perros, RicardoGuiraldes’s Don Segundo Sombra, Rosario Castellanos’s “Valium 10” and “Lección de cocina,” and short stories by Jorge Luis Borges, Julio Cortázar, Juan Rulfo, and Ana Lydia Vega.