Philosophy Program

Mariana Alessandri

I read, study and love to teach the existentialist thinkers, who express their ideas through philosophy, literature, and poetry. My 2010 dissertation examined the figure of Don Quijote through the interpretation of Miguel de Unamuno, and compared it to Søren Kierkegaard’s description of what he called “Religiousness A,” which is an ethical religion similar to, but ultimately different from, Christianity. The idea was to use each philosopher to understand the other, and since Unamuno was a great lover of Kierkegaard, I spent a year conducting research at the Casa-Museo de Unamuno in Salamanca, Spain. This work was supported by both the U.S. Fulbright Commission and the Hispanic Theological Initiative housed at the Princeton Theological Seminary. I am currently working on an essay that interprets Unamuno’s Quijotismo as a religion that he actually practiced.

In general, I am attracted to any kind of philosophy that teaches me something about how to live. Living on the Mexico-U.S. border has solidified my interest in borders: physical, linguistic, mental, psychological, and existential. It’s amazing to be able to read and teach a great philosopher like Gloria Anzaldúa at UTPA, since she graduated from here in 1968 and went on to popularize the term “borderlands.” I love thinking, living, and working in the borderlands, even when it is hard.

Published Essays

“Poke, Prod, and Rile: Secrets of Good Teaching” in The Chronicle of Higher Education, January 27, 2015

“Companions in Misery” in the New York Times “The Philosopher’s Stone,” November 22, 2014

What is Philosophy of Religion? as part of the series "Philosophers of Religion on Philosophy of Religion," November 12, 2014

"Miguel de Unamuno and William James, el gran pensador yanqui" in Inter-American Journal of Philosophy (October 2014, Vol. 5, Issue 2).

“The Strenuous and Sufficient Task of Kierkegaard’s Religiousness A” in Philosophy Today (Winter 2012, Vol. 56, No. 4: pp. 434-448).

“John Alexander Mackay: The Road Approach to Truth” in Kierkegaard Research: Sources, Reception and Resources, Volume 10: Kierkegaard's Influence on Theology. Tome II, Anglophone and Scandanavian Protestant Theology. Ed. Jon Stewart, Søren Kierkegaard Research Centre, University of Copenhagen, Denmark. Ashgate Publishing, 2012.

“Phil 2380: Introduction to Latin American Philosophy (An Annotated Syllabus)” in APA Newsletter on Hispanic/Latino Issues in Philosophy (Fall 2011; Vol. 11, No. 1: 15-17).

Courses and Teaching Interests

19th and 20th Century Continental philosophy (especially Existentialism and Phenomenology)
Spanish-Language Philosophy (from Spain, Latin America, and the United States of America)
Mexican-American Philosophy
The Philosophy of Gloria Anzaldúa
Philosophy of Religion (Theodicy, Jewish Philosophy, Mysticism, Christianity, Mexican Spirituality)
Philosophy and Literature
Critical Philosophy of Race
Feminism (including Chicana, Latina, and Religious Feminism)

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