María J. Durán is a Ph.D candidate in the department of English and Comparative Literature and Graduate Research Assistant for the Latina/o Studies Program at UNC-Chapel Hill. She studies 20th century-contemporary Latina/o Literature with a focus on drama. Her dissertation examines pain and death as potentially productive sites of social protest. Her project engages various ways of understanding death in the public sphere and the potential of pain as a basis from which to organize a multivalent and and transnational Chicana/o community. She has presented her academic work at Latina/o and literature conferences and has presented on panels about diversity and Latina/o education success. Durán has served as a guest blogger for UNC’s Institute for the Study of the Americas, and she has a forthcoming peer-reviewed article in the leading Chicana/o Studies Journal, Aztlán. She has taught several sections of ENGL 105 and ENGL 129: Literature and Cultural Diversity>Chicana/o Literature and Social Transformation.
Outside of the academic sphere, Durán is an advocate for underrepresented minority education. She has worked with The Moore Undergraduate Research Apprentice Program (MURAP) at UNC-Chapel Hill to assist talented underrepresented undergraduate students from diverse backgrounds in their pursuit of doctoral degrees. In Summer 2015, she received the Richard Bland Fellowship and worked at Juntos, a North Carolina State University cooperative extension program whose mission it is to help Latina/o students achieve high school graduation and access higher education. She is also a Carolina Firsts Advocate and a communidad member of the CLC’s Latina/o Mentoring Program. In her spare time, Durán enjoys visiting coffeeshops, staying active, traveling, and spending time with her two pet bunnies.