Gonzalo Aguiar of modern languages and literatures has produced research on Latin America, introduced new courses in Spanish and Portuguese, organized a film series, restructured the annual Spanish Colloquium, relearned the trumpet and accomplished much more -- thanks in part to paying close attention to the mind-body connection. 

Where were you born and raised? 

I was born in Montevideo, Uruguay, and lived most of my (early) life there. That's a city I always go back to with my family. I left many friends and family members and colleagues. Even after so many years in the United States, I feel the need to go back there to reconnect with my traditions and recharge both emotionally and intellectually.

Where did you go for higher education?

I got my B.A. from University of the Republic in Montevideo, a highly regarded system of public institutions of higher education, much like our SUNY. At the University of the Republic, I began working in two areas of research and teaching: as a collaborator for the history department -- I taught several classes in art history related to Latin American art -- and shortly thereafter I started as a lecturer in literary theory for the department of literature. In 2004, when we were in the aftermath of the big banking crisis that was prevalent in Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay, I decided I needed new horizons for my life. I applied to three programs. I wanted to enroll in the spring, and the only program that accepted me in the spring was Washington University in St. Louis. I made my master's and Ph.D. there. 

What was your research topic?

It has to do with intellectual history in Latin America -- an interdisciplinary reassessment of the old school of history of ideas. For example, a scholar writing within this framework is able to not only reflect on the evolution of the literature, philosophy, history or sociology of any particular region, but he or she is able to include (for example) writers of fiction who deal creatively with those subjects. I mostly focused on a comparative study of the intellectual history of Uruguay, Argentina and Brazil in the early 20th century. I'm very passionate about it. I have written a book on the subject.

When did you learn about a position at SUNY Oswego?

I was teaching and coordinating a number of sections of Spanish 101-102 at Washington University, which was a very demanding, but also rewarding experience. The main professional association for my field is the Modern Language Association. I saw the Oswego opening, and at the MLA Conference, I had a conversation with Tracy Lewis and we instantly had this connection in relation to Paraguayan culture. I was working on an article on a famous Paraguayan writer. Tracy and I went off script, and we talked and talked about Paraguay and how wonderful the culture of this rather neglected country is. The SUNY Oswego offer came at the right time for me. I started in August 2014.

What do you think of your colleagues at SUNY Oswego?

This team is incredible. I love the atmosphere. We understand each other, we go to lunch, to dinner, we celebrate each other's accomplishments. 

What do you teach? Have you been able to develop your own courses?

The department has been so supportive about my course offerings and proposals, from Day One. In addition to regular offerings, I have ample room to offer many different topics. In 2015, I offered a course on crime fiction in Latin America, which was quite a success. We saw films, discussed novels and short stories, and I connected those with the recent past of Latin American military dictatorships and repression -- these examples of crime fiction are always related to memory and trauma. Last semester, I offered a course on the history and evolution of the chronicle in Latin America. We studied a number of different texts and hypertexts combining journalism, musical video clips, documentaries and fiction films. With the research assistance provided by HAPI, a Penfield library database, my students were able to write research papers on topics of class, race, gender, child prostitution and drug trafficking in Latin America in the 20th and 21st century. I also taught, for the first time at SUNY Oswego, Portuguese at the intermediate level. That put the college in a special position as one of the few institutions in SUNY teaching Portuguese at that level. I'm proud that Portuguese 201 now can fulfill a language requirement in GenEd.

I understand you organize the annual Spanish Colloquium?

Yes. It used to be called the Spanish Symposium. After consulting with my colleagues, I changed it to the Spanish Colloquium, because I wanted to include not only students presenting research, but also put an emphasis on the mechanics of a professional presentation. Some students still present their findings in panel discussions, but they also discuss their own interests in the language and culture in a more informal manner. I always invite a keynote speaker from either a teaching or research institution -- it's a centerpiece of the event. This is my fourth year running the event.

What are some of your other on-campus interests?

I live in Hart Hall. My job is to prepare IST (global awareness) events and to mentor students, with a particular focus on international students from Latin America and other parts of the world. I organize a Brazilian film series. In order to appreciate these films, students need to readjust their perspective, because Brazilian cinematic style requires a different angle of appreciation when taking on such global issues as segregation, race, poverty and social discrimination. They have to take a fresh look. After the film, we have a discussion, a debate, about the most controversial topics. Last semester, we had a series on Brazilian families. This fall, it's all about Brazilian music. I was involved with IGE (Institute for Global Engagement) for the Year of Brazil. I gave the closing remarks for the opening ceremony and presented a talk on Brazilian feminist writer Patrícia Galvão. I'm also the Faculty Assembly representative from modern languages and literatures -- this is my third year. I was also on SCAC (the Scholarly and Creative Activity Committee) for a year, too. 

What is the status of your book?

The book is originally written in Spanish and is currently under review. Tracy (Lewis), for example, is reviewing a portion of the manuscript while I look for funds to publish it in an academic publishing house in Latin America.

What can you tell us about your family?

My wife, María Alejandra Aguilar, is an assistant professor of languages, literatures and cultures at University at Albany. My son does very well in middle school and practices piano and saxophone. I decided to go back to an old flame for me -- the trumpet. Every time I stay in Albany with my family, I go with him to the same school of music and practice with him. I have to practice at least 15 minutes a day, and I made arrangements with staff at Hart Hall to practice in the basement so I don't disturb anyone. (Laughs.) It's a great relief for me.

What are your other interests or hobbies?

I work out at least four times a week. That's very, very important for me. I need to be active, so my mind and my body are connected. I do resistance training and have a strong emphasis on cardio activities, so I run on the treadmill or jump rope. Another passion of mine is boxing. I had an uncle who was an amateur boxer in Uruguay, and he taught me some of the basic drills, and I inherited his collection of "The Ring" (magazine) in Spanish. I was very active in boxing classes, non-contact. I jump rope and shadow box to keep myself in shape. I love it.