Dr. Keja Valens

Assistant Professor of English

Salem State College

352 Lafayette St.

Salem, MA 01970    



Harvard University, Ph.D. in Comparative Literature, 2004.

Harvard University, A.M. in Comparative Literature, 2001.

Carleton College, B.A. in Romance Languages and Literatures, magna cum laude, 1995.

Teaching and Research Interests:

American Ethnic Literatures, Literatures of the Americas, Feminisms, Queer Theory.


Passing Lines: Sexuality and Immigration.  Ed. with Bradley Epps and Bill Johnson González.  Harvard University’s David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies and Harvard University Press, 2005.


"Multiculturalism and LGBTQ Literature," "Mexican American Lesbian Literature," "African American Lesbian Literature."  The Greenwood Encyclopedia of LGBTQ Literature in the United States.  Ed. Emmanuel Nelson.  Greenwood Press, forthcoming. 

“Dark and Dangerous.”  Changing Currents: Transnational Caribbean Literary and Cultural Criticism.  Eds. Emily Allen Williams and Melvin Rahming.  Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 2006. 

“Audre Lorde and Paule Marshall’s Queer Histories of the Caribbean.”  La Torre X.36-37 (2005): 257-268.

“African American Lesbian Literature,” “Caribbean (Anglophone) American Autobiography,” “Caribbean (Anglophone) American Novel,” “Down These Mean Streets,” “Mexican American Lesbian Literatura,” “Nicholasa Mohr,” “Puerto Rican American Novel,” “Piri Thomas.”  The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Multiethnic American Literature.  Ed. Emmanuel Nelson.  Greenwood Press, 2005. 

 “Plotting Desire ‘In the Night’.”  Sargasso (2004-2005, II): 81-92.

Obvious and Ordinary: Desire Between Girls in Jamaica Kincaid’s Annie John.”  Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies 25.2 (2004): 123-149.

 “Desire Between Women in and as Parodic Métissage: Maryse Condé’s Célanire cou-coupé.”  Journal of Commonwealth Studies 10.1 (Spring 2003): 67-93.

Disobedient Autobiographies of Las Desobedientes: Mujeres de Nuestra America.  Book review. David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies News.  Winter, 1998.

Conference Presentations:

“Sexual Alternatives in Patricia Powell’s Me Dying Trial.”  College English Association Annual Conference, New Orleans, 2007.

“Difference and Diversity in the Women Writers Classroom.”  Society for the Study of American Women Writers Third International Conference, Philadelphia, 2006.

"Paule Marshall’s Queer Problematics.”  American Literature Association, San Francisco, 2006.

“Institutionalization and Change.”  Turning Points, Harvard University, 2005.

“Queer Histories of the Caribbean.”  Seventh Annual Eastern Caribbean Cultures Conference, Tortola, British Virgin Islands, 2004. 

“Queering Caribbean History.”  American Comparative Literature Association Conference, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 2004.

 “Plotting Desire ‘In the Night’.”  Sixth Annual Eastern Caribbean Cultures Conference, St. Johns, Antigua, 2003.

“Obvious and Ordinary: Jamaica Kincaid’s Annie John.”  Thinking Sexually Across the Disciplines, Harvard University, 2003.

“Desire, Deviance, and Destruction: José Martí’s Amistad Funesta.”  International Nineteenth Century Studies Conference, UC Santa Cruz, 2003.

“Bedeviled Desire: Maryse Condé’s Célanire cou-coupé.”  Central New York Conference on Languages and Literatures, SUNY Cortland, 2002.

“Minor” Characters, “Minor” Desires.”  American Comparative Literature Association Conference, San Juan, Puerto Rico, 2002.  Nominated for Horst Fenz Prize for best graduate student paper.

“Re-Placing Desires: Maryse Condé’s Moi, Tituba sorcière…  Re-Placing the Nation: A Graduate Student Conference, Harvard University, 2002.

“Dark and Dangerous: José Martí’s Lucía Jerez.”  Fourth International Conference on Caribbean Literature, Trois Ilets, Martinique, 2001.

“(Re)reading Martí (re)reading friendship.”  Efface: a Graduate Student Conference, Harvard University,  2001.

“Between Lucía Jerez and Sol del Valle: re-reading Martí's narrative of national foundation in the light of ‘el poeta Walt Whitman.’”  Narrative: An International Conference, Rice University, 2001. 

Teaching Experience

Salem State College                                                                                                         Salem, MA.


  Assistant Professor of English, 2005-present

Literary Criticism. 
An intensive examination of major critical statements from Plato to the present that delineate the contours and the problems of literary discourse.   Spring 2008.
World Literature I.  Introduces students to the first written texts from around the world.  Studies how literature has developed from its beginning to 1650 with special attention to the similiarities and differences between the literatures of various places and times.  Fall 2005. Spring 2008.
Special Topics in Literature of the World: Literature of Africa and its Diaspora.  What unites the many literatures of Africa and its Diaspora?  What distinguishes African, Afro-Caribbean, African American, Black British, and Afro-Canadian literature?  What are the major historical, political, geographic, social, aesthetic, and imaginative concerns for Africana literature?  Guided by these broad questions, we study works from the 13th century Mande oral classic The Epic of Son-Jara to Zadie Smith’s recent White Teeth. We complete careful close readings of individual texts and consider how literary and critical theories help us to understand African and Diaspora works. Fall 2007.

            American Ethnic Literatures.  Studies the spectrum of ethnic literatures written in the United States from the second half of the twentieth century to the present and focuses on the ways that the texts convey experiences of belonging and difference in a variety of communities, from the family to the nation.  Also thinks about theories of ethnicity and identity as they relate to the study of literature.  Fall 2007.
Composition I.  Provides the tools needed to write and read effectively throughout a college career and beyond.  Fall 2005- Fall 2007 (Online).

            Honors English Seminar: Literary Cannibalism. An intensive examination of Caribbean responses to colonial literary canons.  Spring 2007.

            Special Topics in Literature of the World: Canons and Revisions.  Investigates postcolonial revisions of canonical texts from across the Western                     tradition.  Spring 2007.
           Contemporary American Fiction. 
Looks at fiction composed around the turn of the 21st century, examining the commentary it offers on Americanness and             its relationship to the rest of the world.  Fall 2006.

African American Literature II.   Allows students to understand African American literary contributions from the modern period to the present and to appreciate the unique challenges faced by African American writers.  Spring 2006, Spring 2007.

            Women and Fiction.  Teaches students about the techniques employed by women writers to express their life experiences and their perspectives and helps students to appreciate the variety of racial, ethnic, national and social backgrounds of women writers.  Spring 2006.

University                                                                                                         Cambridge, MA.


Lecturer on Literature, Literature Concentration, 2004-2005.

Teaching Assistant, Romance Languages and Literatures, 2004-2005.

Teaching Assistant, Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality, 2004-2005.

Teaching Fellow, Literature Concentration and Women’s Studies, 1998-2004.

Teaching Fellow, Literature Concentration, 1998-2003

Guest Lectures

“Women’s Work.”  American Association of University Women North Shore Branch Annual Meeting Presentation, Salem, 2006.

“Women Doing Everything.”  Women’s History Month Dinner Lecture, Salem State College, 2006.

“Postcolonial and Multicultural Revisions of The Scarlet Letter.” Open Forum Lecture Series, Salem State College, 2005

 “Sedgwick on Pedagogy and Affect.”  Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning, Harvard Winter Teaching Conference.  Harvard University, 2005.

“Teaching Strategies from CUE Award Winners: A Panel.”  Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning, Harvard Fall Teaching Conference.  Harvard University, 2004.

 “(Over)reading Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz”  For Bradley Epps, “Introduction to Lesbian and Gay Studies.”  Women’s Studies, Harvard University, 2001.

“The Personal Versus the Political Versus the Academic.”  Panel Discussion for Alice Jardine, “Introduction to Women’s Studies.”  Women’s Studies, Harvard University, 1996 and 1997.


Related Experience

Website Developer
Literature Concentration, Harvard University, 2003-2004.

Conference Organizer and translator, “Passing Lines: Immigration and (Homo)Sexuality.”

David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, Harvard University, 2001.


Spanish (near-native fluency)

French (near-native fluency)

Italian (conversational)

Latin (reading knowledge) 


Professional Activities

Professional Service     
Literature Sequence Coordinator, 2007-present.
Chair, World Literature Search Committee, 2007-present.
Member, Literature Sequence Committee, Department of English, Salem State College, 2007-present.
Member, Major/Minor Committe, Department of English, 2007-present.
Member, Composition Committee, Department of English, 2007-present.
Member, Library/Media Development Committee, 2006-present.

Member, College-Wide Assessment Committee, 2006-present.
Member, Foundations of Excellence Roles Subcommittee, 2007-present.
Member, Foreign Language Waiver Committee, 2007-present.
Member, Retention Committee, 2006-present.
Member, Nomination Committee, 2006-present.

Faculty Advisor, The English Society, Salem State College, 2005-present.
Member, Ad Hoc Strategic Planning Committee, Department of English, Salem State College, 2006-2007.


Research Writing Initiative.  Salem State College, June 2007.

Academic Writing Group.  Salem State College, 2006-present.

Shop Talks.  Writing Center, Salem State College, 2005-present.

Humanities Center Interdisciplinary Graduate Workshop: “Sexuality, Nationality, Globality.”  Harvard University, 2003-2004.

GSAS Graduate Workshop: “Thinking Sexuality Across the Disciplines.”  Harvard University, 2002-2003.

GSAS Graduate Workshop: “Gender and Sexuality Studies.”  Harvard University, 2001-2002.

Ford Foundation Graduate Workshop: “Gender and Sexuality in Latin America and the Caribbean.”  Harvard University, 1999-2000.

Ford Foundation Graduate Workshop: “Ethnicity, Race, and Gender in Latin America and the Caribbean.”  Harvard University, 1998-1999

Ford Foundation Graduate Workshop: “Postcolonial Studies, Gender Studies.”  Harvard University, 1997-1998.

Professional Associations

Modern Languages Association (MLA)

American Comparative Literature Association (ACLA)

Society for the Study of American Women Writers (SSAWW)

National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA)

Latin American Studies Association (LASA)