Associate Dean, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
313 577 2094
Department of English, 5057 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48202
Robert D. Aguirre received a B.A. in English from the University of California Santa Barbara (1983), and an A.M. and Ph.D. from Harvard University (1985 and 1990). He specializes in nineteenth-century British and American literature, with a special focus on these literatures' entanglements with Latin America after 1821. Secondary interests include the study of museums, visual culture, mobilities, and trans-Atlanticism.
He is the author of Informal Empire: Mexico and Central America in Victorian Culture (University of Minnesota Press, 2005), a study of the cultural forms of imperialism which structured Great Britain's relationship to the Americas. Informal Empire recaptures the history of those artifacts from Mexico and Central America that stirred Victorian interest—a history that reveals how such objects and the cultures they embodied were incorporated into British museum collections, panoramas, freak shows, adventure novels, and records of imperial administrators.
Appearing in 2017 is Mobility and Modernity: Panama in the Nineteenth-Century Anglo-American Imagination. This book rewrites the history of the Panama Canal, assessing for the first time the literary culture of the preceding decades. In this period, U.S. and British writers and visual artists developed sophisticated languages of mobility, time, and speed to cast the isthmus as an in-between place, a point of connection to more important destinations. Offering bold new interpretations of Anthony Trollope, John Lloyd Stephens, and Eadweard Muybridge, among others, Mobility and Modernity shows how Panama became defined as a site of incipient globalization and a crucial link of empire.
As associate dean, Professor Aguirre's portfolio is focused on undergraduate education, principally retention and graduation, student success, curriculum design, technology, advising, and orientation. He also has oversight for academic staff in the college.
His hobbies include playing music and racing old bicycles.
Undergraduate courses have included: Victorian Literature; Victorian Novel; British Literature since 1700; Recent World Literature in English; The Victorians and Latin America; Imagining America from Columbus to Jamaica Kincaid; Anglo-American Travelers to Latin America; Theorizing Museums; The Bildungsroman; Victorian Autobiography.
Graduate seminars have included: Victdorian Literature and Empire; The Hemispheric Turn in American Studies; Transatlanticism; New World Encounters; Victorian Travelers; Race and the Victorian Novel; Victorian Narratives/Post-modern Discourses; Victorian Autobiography