William Orchard

Associate Professor
Director of Graduate Studies
Klapper Hall, Room 637

Research Interests

I write about how popular forms of Latinx cultural expression challenge the versions of Latinx life that are represented in established genres of writing like the novel. My book Other Ways of Seeing: The Lessons of Latinx Comics, under contract with the University of Arizona Press, argues that the Latinx graphic novel is a form that captures anxieties about the political efficacy of two forms of cultural discourse: a literary discourse that is mediated by the university and a visual discourse that emerges in an array of “unofficial” locations. My interest in popular forms extends into my next project, which uses the detective novels of Chicano writer Michael Nava to tell a story about the emergence of queer Latinx studies. I am also currently editing the third volume in Cambridge University Press’s Latinx Literature in Transition series, titled Latinx Literature and Critical Futurities, 1992-Present.

My other research interests include Latinx literature and culture, contemporary U.S. literature, comics and graphic narratives, queer studies, ethnic studies, Native American and Indigenous literatures, and theories of the novel. For the next five years, I am a member of the Executive Committee of the MLA’s forum on Comics and Graphic Narratives. I also am one of the organizers of the Colloquium for the Study of Latinx Culture and Theory, which meets several times throughout the year to discuss work-in-progress by Latinx studies scholars from the New York area and beyond.

Teaching Interests

My recent course offerings on Latinx literature have often been oriented toward understanding current events. After the Pulse Orlando shooting, I taught a graduate course on Queer Latinx Studies that addressed that event but also examine the long history of queer of color critique. My class on Latinx Childhood responded to the child separations at the border that riveted the nation’s attention, providing students with a history of the different ways in which the Latinx child has been racialized and denied the “innocence” usually bestowed upon children. I have also taught a course titled The Races of Latinx Literature, which examined the different ways Latinxs are racialized as well as the racial heterogeneity of Latinx communities. While each of these iterations of a Latinx literature provides students the opportunities to practice some of the core methods of the discipline—from formal analysis to historical contextualization and theoretical framing—the classes are equally concerned with thinking about the limits of the discipline, the places where the methods of literary study seem insufficient for the questions we want to pursue. In the future, I plan to teach classes on Latinx New York and on Latinx Poetry and Poetics. In addition to these classes, I regularly teach English 244 (the required theory class for English majors), classes on Native American and Indigenous literatures, and classes on comics and graphic narratives.

Selected Publications
Edited Collections

The Body in Contemporary Latina/o/x Poetry, co-edited with Francisco Robles, Post45 Contemporaries.

Borders, Bridges, and Breaks: History, Narrative, and Nation in 21st-Century Chicana/o Literary Criticism. Co-edited with Yolanda Padilla. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2017.

The Plays of Josefina Niggli: Recovered Landmarks of Latino Literature. Co-edited with Yolanda Padilla. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2007.

Articles and Book Chapters

“Poetry, Pulse, and the Anthology” (co-authored with Amanda Torres), Post45 Contemporaries, January 2020.

“Endless Happy Beginnings: Forms of Speculation in Adam Silvera’s More Happy Than Not” in ASAP/J, special cluster on the Futurities of Latinx Speculative Fiction, December 2019.

“Machete Don’t Text: From Genre Textualities to Media Networks,” Aztlán: A Journal of Chicano Studies 41.1 (Spring 2016): 235-249.

Selected Book Chapters

“Unspoken Intimacies: Jaime Hernandez’s Wordless Pages,” Teaching Los Bros Hernandez: Snapshots, ed. William Nericcio and Frederick Luis Aldama, San Diego State UP, forthcoming 2022.

“Maria Cristina Mena and the Masturbating Boy,” Latina Histories and Cultures: Suffrage, Activism, and Women’s Rights, Arte Publico Press, forthcoming 2023.

“Bruja Theory: Latinidad without Latinos in Popular Narratives of Brujería,” Posthumanism the and Latin(x) American Science Fiction, ed. Antonio Cordoba and Emily Maguire, Palgrave Macmillan, 2022.

“The Uncertain Harbor of Home: Fragments, Familia, and Failure in Manuel Muñoz’s ‘Bring Brang Brung.’” Decolonizing Latinx Masculinities. Ed. Arturo Aldama and Frederick Luis Aldama. University of Arizona Press, 2020. 213-227