Barrera, Magdalena L.

Barrera, Magdalena L.

  • Associate Professor and Minor Advisor, Mexican American Studies
  • Faculty-in-Residence for Diversifying the Faculty (2016-2017), Faculty Affairs




Preferred: (408) 924-5583

Office Hours

Mondays 10:00-11:45am; Tuesdays 2:00-4:00pm; and by appointment


  • Doctor of Philosophy, Modern Thought and Literature, Stanford University, 2006
  • Bachelor of Arts, English (with Honors) and Latin American Studies, University of Chicago, 1997


Magdalena L. Barrera is an Associate Professor of Mexican American Studies at San José State University. Born and raised in suburban Chicago, Illinois, she received a B.A. in English Literature and Latin American Studies from the University of Chicago (1997), and a Ph.D. in Modern Thought and Literature from Stanford University (2006). Magdalena joined SJSU in 2008 after a postdoctoral fellowship in Stanford’s Introduction to the Humanities program, where she taught first-year students everything from seventeenth-century political philosophy to twenty-first century opera, and literary works from Beowulf to Beloved. She currently teaches courses on Chicana/o history, literature, film, families, comparative ethnic studies, and public speaking.

Magdalena situates her primary research agenda at the intersection of literary/visual studies and cultural history; she is interested in the textual recovery of Mexican American experiences in the early twentieth century, particularly around narratives of immigration, citizenship, gender, and cultural adaptation. Inspired by the hardworking and resilient students of SJSU, Magdalena has taken up a second area of research on pedagogical strategies and the mentoring and retention of first-generation students and students of color in higher education. Her essays and reviews have appeared in Latina/o Literature in the ClassroomJournal of Latinos and Education; Aztlan: A Journal of Chicano Studies; Bilingual Review; Women's Studies; Revista Camino Real; and Sexualities in History: A Reader.

Magdalena is a first-generation scholar and a former Mellon-Mays Undergraduate Fellow (1996-1997). She spent the 2011-2012 academic year in Austin, Texas, on a research fellowship, thanks to a Junior Faculty Career Enhancement Fellowship through the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. While on sabbatical in Spring 2016, Magdalena traveled to Bolivia and Peru, where she climbed the Inca Trail, a four-day hike--over twenty-six miles and reaching nearly 14,000 feet--to the Inca city of Machu Picchu.