Assistant Professor of English
on faculty since 2010
Ph.D., Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, 2010
M.A., Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, 2006
Teaching Licensure, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia, 2000
B.A., University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, 1996
Professional and Personal Interests
At the heart of Erick Sierra’s scholarship are both a burden for the fallen state of language and an excitement for God’s undertaking to restore it. Language, originally meant to empower us to understand and connect with one another deeply, more often than not is the culprit of misunderstandings that tear us apart. “The story of the Tower of Babel tells us, for instance, of how God ‘confound[ed]’ language so that people, now ‘scattered,’ could ‘not understand one another’s speech.’ The problem becomes compounded when we think of the vast differences alienating cultural, political, and religious ‘languages’ across our world today.”
“What have we done?” he asks. “Where do we go?”
In his courses, Sierra boldly confronts this fractured condition as it presents itself in twentieth-century literature. He challenges his students to mourn over this condition while also raising their gaze toward the greater work God is doing, through his living breathing body on earth, to restore wholeness and unity back into it. “This is where the study of literature and Christian love meet.”
Sierra’s own personal journey has deepened his sense of these divisions among humans—especially as they play out across racial, cultural, and socioeconomic lines—and how they might be addressed. Of Puerto Rican and Dominican descent, and hailing from New York City, he has taught across a wide range of cultural and socio-economic contexts: from a private suburban Christian academy, to an inner-city alternative high school, to lower- and upper-level courses at the university level. In all these contexts, he asks his students how they might act creatively and practically to heal the divisions in the world around us: “the study of literature,” he says, “far from being a self-absorbed activity, can serve as the beginning of life-giving, transformative ministry.”
In his free time, Sierra enjoys Muay Thai kickboxing, yoga, interesting restaurants, and rich conversations with close friends. He has a place in his heart for old-school hip-hop, loves speaking Spanish, and enjoys spending his summers in far-flung places in the world. He and his little bull dog, “Roebling,” live in Chicago.
- Transatlantic Twentieth-Century Literature
- Contemporary Literature and Spirituality
- Postcolonial Literature
- Introduction to Narrative: American Fiction
- Teaching in the Writing Center
- Introduction to Literature
- Expository Writing
Papers Published and/or Presented
“Lovers Unbound: The Violent Search for Human Intersubjectivity.” Exit 9: The Rutgers Journal of Comparative Literature. Volume VI, Psychoanalysis and Violence (2004): 115-128.
“Re-enchanting the World: A Dialogue with Scholar John McClure on Secularism and Contemporary Spirituality.” Wunderkammer Magazine, 1 February 2010.
“A Land for the Nameless.” A Review of You or Someone Like You, by Chandler Burr. Wunderkammer Magazine, 11 May 2009.
“Love Conquers All: In a Brooklyn barrio, one Puerto Rican grandmother was a force of nature.” Saveur Magazine, May 2009: 36.
“The Ecstatic Limits of the Psychoanalytic Subject,” American Comparative Literature Association 2005 Annual Conference: “The Human and Its Others.” Princeton University, Princeton, NJ. 25 March 2006.
“Teaching Through the Wall: Culturally Responsive Pedagogy For the Racially Diverse Classroom,” Teacher’s College of Columbia University. New York, NY. 3 April 2008.
“Moving Beyond the Walls: Culturally Relevant Pedagogies For Our Black and Latino Students,” New York University, Steinhardt School of Education. New York, NY. 21 July 2009.