Areas of research: 1) world literature (including Latin American and Caribbean, US, and European, especially from the 19th and 20th century); 2) philosophy, including contemporary critical theory and continental philosophy, the philosophy of education, ethical philosophy, and various forms of pragmatism; 3) the philosophy, cultures, and politics of athletics, especially basketball; and 4) interdisciplinary arts and ideas in the humanities including architecture and urbanism; creative non-fiction; the graphic novel; outsider art; and contemplative practices.
Languages: Spanish; Reading proficiency in Italian, French, and Portuguese
I received my Ph.D. in Literature from Duke University in 1991 and have been teaching at the University of Michigan since 1992.
I think about sports, literature, philosophy and the arts as equipment for living.
In my teaching and writing, I creatively explore and convey how critically engaging these spheres of human experience can enhance the enjoyment we derive from them, deepen our understanding of their role in society, and develop our ability to read and to invent the kinds of stories — about ourselves, others, and the world we live in — that can make that world a little bit better.
In my twenty years as a university professor, I've taught a wide variety of undergraduate and graduate courses on literature, philosophy, and culture for the University of Michigan's Department of Comparative Literature and Residential College. Among them, some of my favorites have been the Cultures of Basketball, introductory surveys in Comparative Literature (framed under such rubrics as "Innocence and Experience," "Reading to Live," or "In and Out of Eden"), introductions to literary theory and criticism, in-depth studies of individual writers such as Karl Marx, William James, Jorge Luis Borges, or Baruch Spinoza, and advanced courses on world literature in translation. I've also enjoyed interdisciplinary pedagogical collaborations with colleagues from Architecture and Urban Planning, Italian, Philosophy, English, and Creativity and Consciousness.
To complement my scholarly writing and to both stimulate and express my creativity in teaching, I founded and run the basketball blog: Go Yago! Life as a Point Guard and the literature and teaching blog Yago's Reading to Live. As part of my Cultures of Basketball course, I maintained the Cultures of Basketball course diary, a creative non-fiction combination of pedagogical memoir, literary and philosophical reflection, and basketball history. I've also contributed work online to the legendary blog FreeDarko, to the online magazine The Good Men Project, and to the periodical audio blog Voice on the Floor.
I've published more traditional academic essays on various topics in comparative literature in such print publications as New Centennial Review, PMLA, Discourse, Angelaki, and Encounter: Education for Meaning and Social Justice. I've recently begun to produce academic essays on the culture and discourse of athletics.
- Mythologies of Basketball: On the Uses and Abuses of Sport for American Lfe (book manuscript in progress)
o Reading to Live (book manuscript in progress, 330 pp.)
o Living Invention, or the Way of Julio Cortázar (book manuscript in progress, 372 pp.)
o Postmodernity in Latin America: The Argentine Paradigm (Durham: Duke UP, 1994)
- ""The Meanings of Manu: Style, Race and Globalization in the Culture of Basketball" forthcoming in Sports and National Identity in Latin America.
- "What We Mean When We Say “Play the Right Way”: Strategic Fundamentals, Morality, and Race in the Culture of Basketball," is currently under review by the Journal of the Midwest Modern Language Association.
o “The Difference that Time Makes: Hopelessness and Potency in Borges’ ‘El Aleph’” Thinking with Borges, Ed. William Egginton and David Johnson (Aurora: Davies Group Publishers, 2009), 87-101.
o “Magic and Autonomy in Historias mínimas and La vita è bella” (with Vincenzo Binetti), Discourse28.2-3 (2008): 130-152.