Associate Professor of Spanish

Chair of the Publications Advisory Committee | Dey 328

At UNC since 2003

Other Appointments

Editor of Hispanófila

Adjunct Professor of Comparative Literature


Ph.D. Cornell University, 2002
B.A. Universidad Nacional de Colombia., 1995
B.A. Universidad Externado de Colombia, 1994


Juan Carlos Gonzalez-Espitia is a scholar of nineteenth- and twentieth-century Latin American literature. He has continuously taught courses and guided work in both time periods, inspiring and being inspired by his students. His research focuses on non-canonical, heterodox, shunned and hidden literature, ideas, and authors that, although excluded, reveal very profound trends in culture and society. His research treats representations of disease, literature that challenges the status quo, and nation-building—in particular the complex, dynamic transformation from a colonial condition to one of budding independence. He is especially interested in the relationships between disease and nation in literature, and in finding divergent, innovative, profound, and fertile critical approaches to texts. Gonzalez-Espitia is also the editor of Hispanófila, a long-standing journal of Hispanic studies published since 1957.


Gonzalez-Espitia is the author of On the Dark Side of the Archive: Nation and Literature in Spanish America at the Turn of the Century (Bucknell UP, 2010). It examines nineteenth-century nation building through narratives that are not part of the romantic or realist traditions, especially those associated with the critique of traditional ideals often portrayed in decadentism and modernismo. The study focuses on the “non-canonical” works of turn-of-the-century authors like José María Vargas Vila, Horacio Quiroga, Clemente Palma, and José Martí, and concludes with a study that compares the literary portrayal of doomed societies in the nineteenth-century with the work of contemporary authors like Fernando Vallejo.

Together with William J. Acree Jr., has co-edited Building Nineteenth-Century Latin America: Re-Rooted Cultures, Identities, and Nations (Vanderbilt UP, 2009). This volume studies the manner in which culture and identity took root as the new nations and state institutions were being fashioned across Latin America after the wars of independence. The essays tease out the power of print and visual cultures, examine the impact of carnival, delve into religion and war, and study the complex histories of gender identities and disease.

Typical Courses

  • Illness and Literature in the Hispanic World.
  • Politics, Language, Love, Race and other 19th Century Spanish American Diseases.
  • Spanish American Literature (SPAN 373).
  • Contemporary Latin America: Caribbean and Southern Cone (SPAN 345).
  • Poiesis in Spanish America.

Recently Directed Dissertations

  • Philip Hollingsworth (PhD). “The Hispanic Literary Opiate Experience”
  • Carlos Abreu (PhD). “Sublime peligro: naturaleza, sujeto y nación en Latinoamérica.”
  • Carmen Pérez (PhD) “Ídolos, bosques y cruces: el uso de los héroes, la naturaleza y la religión en los textos escolares en Colombia. 1870-1900”
  • Samantha Michele Riley (PhD). Absurdist-Ethics and Radical Agency in AIDS Media: Erotic Genealogies, Absurd Laughter, and Grotesque Aesthetics .
  • María del Carmen Caña Jiménez (PhD). La escritura de la infancia: entre la nación y el discurso político .
  • Toby Weisslitz (PhD). Narrating from the Margins: Representations of Shantytowns in Brazilian and Colombian Nonfiction.

Graduate Students Advised by Professor Gonzalez 

Professor González-Espitia is currently accepting new advisees.

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  1. Celebrating an early unpublished Latin American novel on Nov. 18 | College of Arts and Sciences

    […] professor Juan Carlos González Espitia, in the Department of Romance Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences led the effort to acquire […]