Photo courtesy of Bjorn Kruse:Spiceboxes in India

  Irene Mata
horizontal rule

Contact Information

Irene Mata
106 Central Street
Wellesley, MA 02481
Telephone: 781-283-3390
Office Hours:

Current Courses:
120 Intro to Women's and Gender Studies
216 Women and Popular Culture: Latina Nannies and the Latina Sex Pot
223 Gendering the Bronze Screen: Representation of Chicanas/Latinas in Film
326 Crossing the Border(s): Narratives or Transgression


I am thrilled to join the Women’s and Gender Studies Dept. at Wellesley College. Before coming to Wellesley, I earned a Ph.D. in Literature from the University of California at San Diego and my M.A. and B.A. in English and Women’s Studies from New Mexico State University. My work specializes in Chicana/o-Latina/o Studies with an emphasis in literature and culture.

My current work blends my love of literature and popular culture in an effort to investigate the ways in which women of color, especially immigrant women and their labor, are represented in contemporary cultural productions. I see the study of cultural productions as an important field of inquiry because it tells us so much about the ways in which the world around us is constructed. By looking at stories of immigration in popular culture, we can see how producers of cultural texts choose to represent the changes that have occurred over the past twenty years in the movement of women across national boundaries.

Growing up in the border city of El Paso, Texas, has deeply informed my research. I have combined my background in Women’s Studies, Border Studies, and my work in popular culture in a second project on the U.S.-based cultural productions representing the femicides (often referred to as the maquiladora murders) taking place in Northern Mexico. I’m interested in looking at how cultural producers portray the changes taking place in the U.S./Mexico border area with the mass migration and heavy industrialization of the region.

I believe that the classroom is a space of unlimited possibilities where the enthusiastic exchange of ideas takes place. I see my job as an educator as an endeavor to help students critically examine the world we inhabit. In the classroom, I expect students to be active participants in their learning, challenging texts and interrogating key ideas. By engaging students in the subject material being studied, I hope to create in the classroom a space for the sharing of knowledge. Having been mentored by some wonderful women throughout my educational life, I also firmly believe in the value of mentoring and see my work as a teacher not ending when I leave the classroom.

“ Mujeres Moving Across Space and Place: Challenging Representations of Immigrant Mexicanas in Cultural Productions.” National Association of Chicana and Chicano Studies April 2007, Fresno, CA.
“ Constructing A Cultural Heritage: The Differing Discourses of Labor and Gender in Early 20th Century Mexican American Literature.” Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage Project Conference, October 2006, St. Louis, MO.
“ Sexism and Homophobia in Culture Clash’s Bordertown.” National Association of Chicana and Chicano Studies June 2006, Guadalajara Mexico.
“ Queer Motherhood, Patriarchy, and the Nation State: Cherríe Moraga’s Aztlán in The Hungry Woman.” Latina Letters: The Tenth Annual Conference on Latina Literature and Identity, July 2005.
“Maquilas in the Free Trade Zone: Cheap Labor, Disposable Lives.” Keynote Speech, Herkeimer County Community College Women’s History Month Celebration, Herkeimer NY, March 10, 2005.
“ The Maquiladora Murders: Intersection of International Capitalist Exploitation and the Threatened Patriarchy in Juarez, México.” Latin America: Past, Present, and Future. Middle Atlantic Council on Latin American Studies XXIV Annual Conference, Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, 2004.
“ Queering the Tourist/Exiling the Queer or A Long Vacation: Issues of Movement and Mobility in Our Lady of the Assassins.” QGrad 2002: A Graduate Student Conference on Sexuality and Gender, UCLA.
“ Caribbean Border Crossers: Negotiating Identity and Ideas of Home,“ 25th Annual African Literatures Association Conference, UC San Diego, 2002.
“The Media Representation of Lilith Fair,” Through the Looking Glass: Feminism and Popular Culture. 23rd Annual Women’s Studies Conference, SUNY-New Paltz.

UC San Diego Literature Department Year Long Dissertation Fellowship, 2006-2007
Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity Dissertation Research Fellowship, 2005
Hispanic Scholarship Fund Recipient, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2005
Verna Newman Rule Endowed Memorial Scholarship, 2000
Charles M. and Pamela S. Sphar Endowed Scholarship, 1999
New Mexico Commission on Higher Education Graduate Fellowship, 1999-2000

horizontal rule