Experts on "Literature"

Monica Cure

  • Assistant Professor

Monica Cure is a scholar of Comparative Literature, and visual and material culture. She earned her bachelor’s degree in English (with a concentration in poetry) and Spanish literature, as well as a minor in art history, from Kenyon College. Dr. Cure received her doctorate in Comparative Literature from the University of Southern California. She specializes in late 19th/early 20th century British and American literature and culture, and representations of otherness.

An assistant professor in the Torrey Honors Institute, Dr. Cure engages in and promotes interdisciplinary thinking. She enjoys employing its Socratic-inspired pedagogy in a way that fosters perspective taking and strengthens critical thinking skills. She also helped establish and oversees the institute’s Academic Service Learning program.

Monica Cure’s forthcoming book, Picturing the Postcard: The Invention of the Postcard Through the Lens of Turn-of-the-Century Literature, and the Fantasy of New Media is under advance contract with the University of Minnesota Press. In it, she explores the literary and cultural evolution of the postcard at the turn of the twentieth century and what that reveals about the discourse of new media.

Dr. Cure's current research project continues at the intersection of literature and culture, investigating the spirituality of travel through the concept of pilgrimage, medieval mysticism, and travel writing. Her other research interests include cross-cultural education, popular culture and media, art history, gender studies, and postcolonial studies.

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Octavio Javier Esqueda

  • Professor of Christian Higher Education

Octavio Javier Esqueda is a professor of Christian higher education in the doctoral programs in educational studies at Talbot School of Theology at Biola University. He was born and raised in Guadalajara, México, where he graduated with honors with a Licenciatura in Latin American Literature from the University of Guadalajara as well as two additional diplomas, one on religion and society and the second on journalism. He graduated with honors from Dallas Theological Seminary with an M.A. in Christian Education and completed his doctorate (Ph.D.) in Higher Education at the University of North Texas. Before coming to Biola University in 2011, he taught at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas for over seven years. He and his wife, Angélica, have two children Darío and Salma. Dr. Esqueda has several publications on theological education, Christian higher education, and literature. Teaching is his passion and has had the opportunity to teach in several countries on different academic levels. He is an avid soccer fan.

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Shelley Garcia

  • Assistant Professor of English

Shelley Garcia received her bachelor's degree in English and sociology at Vanguard University, and went on to do graduate work at the University of California, Riverside. She specializes in contemporary American literature, gender and minority discourses and has taught courses such as "Race and Ethnicity in American Literature," "American Literature Since 1865," "Contemporary Women Writers and Feminist Theory," "Modernism and Masculinity" and "Landmark Texts of the 20th Century by U.S. Ethnic Writers."

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Joe Henderson

  • Associate Professor

Joe Henderson teaches Bible, literature, and hermeneutics. In his doctoral work at Fuller Theological Seminary, he studied hermeneutics and Old Testament literature. His dissertation on the poetry of the book of Jeremiah is the fruit of his interest in the relationship between the history of biblical interpretation and the history of literary criticism. His other interests include Robert Louis Stevenson's novels, Paul's theology, Milton's Prose, Brevard Childs' hermeneutics, Flannery O'Connor's stories, Charles Wesley's hymns, and Francis of Assisi's life. Joe is a graduate of Asbury College in Wilmore, Kentucky and Rift Valley Academy in Kijabe, Kenya. He and his wife Conchie served at Rift Valley Academy as dorm parents for fifth- and sixth-grade girls. Now they are the grateful parents of Kip, William and Laurel.

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Artemiza Hernandez

  • Associate Professor of Modern Languages

Artemiza Hernández de Zúñiga earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degree in Spanish at California State University, Fresno. She then earned a doctorate in Spanish from the University of Arizona, Tucson with secondary studies in literature and Mexican and Mexican-American literature. Her doctoral dissertation is entitled “El personaje femenino chileno de mediados del siglo XX como promotor de un discurso constructivo y desmantelador del discurso patriarcal.” Her research interests include indigenous studies, power structure and Latin American film. She teaches intermediate-level general education Spanish, as well as all minor/major Spanish for Biola’s Department of Modern Languages. She also occasionally guest teaches for Biola's English department.

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Jane E. Kim

  • Assistant Professor

Jane E. Kim was born in State College, Pa. and grew up in Philadelphia. She completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania, where she majored in English and French, and received her M.A. and Ph.D. in English literature from Cornell University. Her dissertation focused on the influence of Dante's poetic theology on British Romantic conceptions of the poet and poetry. Her current research interests include 18th and 19th-century British literature and the Bible and literature. Jane is thrilled to be a part of the Biola community and enjoys studying great books with the Torrey Honors Institute's bright students.

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Marc Malandra

  • Associate Professor of English

Marc Malandra received his bachelor's degree in literature in the College of Creative Studies at University of California, Santa Barbara, and a master's degree in English and creative writing at University of California, Davis. He also received a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and a Ph.D. in English from Cornell University. Professor Malandra has had opportunities to teach at University of California, Davis, for various businesses and high schools in Japan, for University of California, Santa Cruz Extension, and at Hartnell College. His areas of specialization are nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first century American literature, Anglo-American poetry, and creative writing.

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Amy Obrist

  • Associate Prof, Mod Languages
  • Associate Professor of Modern Languages

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Haein Park

  • Associate Professor of English

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Todd Pickett

  • Dean of Spiritual Development

Education: Stanford, BA (Classics); Trinity College, Ireland, M.Litt. (Classics); Talbot, MA (Spiritual Formation); UC Irvine, Ph.D. (English).
At Biola since: 1996
• Chair, department of English, 2002-2005
• Dean of Humanities & Social Sciences, 2005-2008
• Associate Dean of Spiritual Development, 2008-2011
• Dean of Spiritual Development, 2011-present.
My StrengthsFinder top five: Connectedness, Learner, Intellection, Ideation, Input.

1. What do you do in your job (briefly)? I get to think about & facilitate how we can discern the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives and cooperate with it.

2. The five (or so) most influential books you've read: Besides the Scriptures, of course… can I do authors instead?
• Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov, Notes from Underground
• Thomas Merton, No Man is an Island; Ascent to Truth
• Stanley Hauerwas, Resident Aliens; Truthfulness and Tragedy
• Jean-Pierre DeCaussade, Self Abandonment to Divine Providence; The Sacrament of the Present Moment
• Eugene Peterson, The Contemplative Pastor, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, The Jesus Way.
• Wendell Berry, Jayber Crow, Essays & Poems

3. An influential person in your life or best example of love? I’m thinking of two friends who are pastors, both characterized chiefly by humility and obedience.

4. Why are you at Biola? Because the university is committed to biblical integration and spiritual development.

5. Your testimony in 200 words or less?
I came to Christ as a junior higher, drawn by how brilliantly the Scriptures threw light on the human condition. Filled with the Holy Spirit, I was also filled quite a bit with myself and how church/bible study/teaching could be a place for over-achievement. For much of my Christian life, God has been calling and drawing me away from an identity based in what I can do for Him (really, myself) and into an identity based on what He’s done for me. Still trying to open to that.

6. If God put you completely in charge of creating Heaven, what would it be like? Lots of time to read, and then lots of time to talk about reading with others over meals.

7. What is the most difficult choice you’ve ever had to make? What made it difficult? What factors helped you make that choice? Leaving church ministry for a Ph.D. in English. It was hard to know where I would thrive more. If I recall, the chief decision-making factor was my immaturity—I hated the feeling of my inadequacy--that I couldn’t meet everyone’s needs. Someone should’ve told me that that’s how your learn humility and dependence.

8. What are five things you are most thankful for in your life right now? Dottie (my wife), Carly & Abbey (my daughters), Friends, A job.

9. What job do you fantasize about having? Having my own radio show where I get to interview whomever I want (but mostly novelists and rock stars).

10. Last book you read? Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms.

11. A brush with fame or celebrity? I once carved a Thanksgiving turkey with Nicholas Cage. And yes, the rumors are true, the actress Courtney Cox is my sister-in-law. I’ve been married to her sister, Dottie, for 20 years.

12. Which fictional character do you most resemble? I can be very Eeyore-ish on bad days.

13. Who plays you in your bio-pic? Kenneth Branagh.

14. What’s your ringtone? Beck, “Walls”

15. Favorite electronic device? My Espresso Maker (you do have to plug it in)

16. What do your friends say is your best quality? Reflectiveness (is that a word?)

17. What natural talent do you wish you had? Drawing

18. What is your life theme song? “Oh How I Hate To Get Up in the Morning,” Irving Berlin

19. Do you believe in love at first sight? When applied to desserts, yes.

20. Do you think it is possible to live with no regrets? If regret means sadness, no. If regret means self-loathing, yes.

21. What is your definition of success? Abiding in God. Do you consider yourself to be successful? Sometimes.

22. How much is your self-worth and identity determined by your job and your success at it? That’s my Achilles heal. It has mattered a lot.

23. What is the most beautiful thing you have ever seen? My daughters, still. After that, Boyd’s Lake Resort in Wisconsin, late July.

24. In what areas of your life is it most difficult to trust God? That what I’m able to do is enough.

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Itzel Reyes

  • Assistant Professor of Modern Languages

Dr. Itzel Reyes earned her B.A. from Cal State, Dominguez Hills in Spanish literature with minors in Sociology and Women’s Studies. She completed her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of California, Irvine. Her dissertation was titled “Espacios que asustan: Narrar el horror en el cine y el cuento español contemporáneo” (Scary Spaces: Narrating Horror in Contemporary Spanish Film and Short Story). Her research interests include Spanish horror, historical memory, literary and cinematic representations of violence and second language teaching and acquisition. She views her role at Biola as ministerial work where she has been blessed by the opportunity of pouring into Biola students in helping fulfill the university’s mission of equipping its students to impact the world in service of our Lord. She teaches all levels of G.E. Spanish and minor/major level classes.

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Lyle H Smith, Jr

  • Professor of English

Lyle Smith grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He attended Wheaton College, and graduated from the University of Minnesota, where he also completed post-graduate work in English Renaissance studies. His dissertation dealt with the history of English anti-clerical satire between the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries, culminating in the Martin Marprelate pamphlets of 1588-89. He is married to a beautiful California girl who, for ten years, was a missionary in South Africa, worked until 2004 as a psychotherapist and taught in the Human Services department at California State University, Fullerton.

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Joshua Smith

  • Assistant Professor

Joshua Smith is very pleased to join the Torrey Honors Institute at Biola. He brings a wide range of experience in the instruction of literature and composition. He received his B.A. from the University of California, Los Angeles in American literature and culture. He received both his M.A. and Ph.D. in English from the University of Southern California. His research is in American literature, where he specializes in the nineteenth century, the American West, popular culture, media and race. As an ordained minister, he has participated in pastoral and short-term missions ministry at his local church for several years. Joshua is also a professional speaker and saxophone player. Animated, humorous, thought-provoking and explosive, he engages students with a personable and inspirational teaching style. Joshua and his wife Marsee have two boys, Josué and Angelo.

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Victor Velazquez

  • Chair, Department of Modern Languages
  • Assistant Professor of Modern Languages

Victor Velazquez is currently a modern language professor at Biola University. He is a member of the Modern Language Association, American Association of Teachers of French and American Association of Teachers of Spanish, Portuguese and Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association (PAMLA). Velazquez invests in his community and serves as a volunteer speaker for Child S.H.A.R.E., an organization that supports and encourages faith communities through the foster care and adoption process. He received his bachelor’s degree in comparative literature and master’s degree/doctorate in French Language and Literature from the University of California, Irvine. While working towards his doctorate, he was honored through several awards such as the Jacob K. Javits Fellowship Award. Velazquez previously taught at Mount San Antonio College, Coastline Community College and University of California, Irvine.

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