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Dr. Xiomara Cervantes-Gómez

Profile picture for Dr. Xiomara Cervantes-Gómez

Contact Information

4080 LCLB, MC-176
707 South Mathews Ave.
Urbana, IL 61801

Office Hours

On leave
Assistant Professor


[Faculty photo shows a Latina woman smiling in neutral makeup with long straight black brown hair. The photo has a grey background, and she is seated in an olive green ribbed top.]

Dr. Xiomara Verenice Cervantes-Gómez is a transdisciplinary performance and queer theorist who researches and writes in the interstices between Latin American and U.S. Latinx cultural studies, continental philosophy, performance studies, queer theory, and contemporary literature. She is the author of Bottoms Up: Queer Mexicanness and Latinx Performance, forthcoming with NYU Press in the Sexual Cultures series. Cervantes-Gómez is currently Assistant Professor of Spanish and Portuguese in Latin American literatures and cultures and holds faculty affiliations across disciplines including the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Gender and Women's Studies, Latina/Latino Studies, The Lemann Center for Brazilian Studies, Religion, and the Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory. She earned her Ph.D. in Spanish and Latin American Studies in the Comparative Studies in Literature and Culture Doctoral Program at the University of Southern California. She also holds a master's degree in Religions of the Americas and Theology from Harvard Divinity School and a B.A. from the University of California, Riverside.

Prior to the University of Illinois, Cervantes-Gómez held both predoctoral and postdoctoral positions at Harvard University and the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. Cervantes-Gómez's contributions to the disciplines have included recently serving on the editorial board of Women & Language, as co-chair of the Latin American Studies Association (LASA) Sexualities Studies Section, and holding leadership positions at the American Academy of Religion (AAR) and the American Comparative Literature Association (ACLA). She currently serves on the executive committee of The Mexican LLC Forum of the Modern Languages Association (MLA).

Complementing her research, Cervantes-Gómez is also a performance artist who has presented creative work at Highways Performance Space in Santa Monica, Foro Tecuicanime in Mexico City, Harvard Divinity School, streaming platforms, conferences, and various showcases in Mexico City and Los Angeles.

Research Interests

Pre-Columbian and Mesoamerican mythology, 20th and 21st-Century Latin American and US. Latinx literatures and cultures, modern Mexican and Chicanx literary and artistic cultures, , Latin American and U.S. Latinx religious and theological studies, Afro-Latinidades, Afropessimism, Black studies, comparative indigenous studies, continental philosophy, deconstruction, queer theory, transgender studies, performance studies, religious studies, systematic theology

Research Description

Dr. Cervantes-Gómez's research centralizes issues and contentions of embodiment, sexuality, and performance in contemporary Latin American and U.S. Latinx literary and visual cultures. Her first book, Bottoms Up: Queer Mexicanness and Latinx Performance (NYU Press, forthcoming), examines performance as an affective relational encounter with sex and death in queer performance as collectively embodied aesthetic practices. The performance of the bottom culturally and politically teaches about the larger stakes of pain and pleasure in the world and with others. Through the study of contemporary Hemispheric Latinx American cultural production from those who bottom at the bottoms of culture and society. Derived from this work, her article "Paz's Pasivo: Thinking Mexicanness from the Bottom" was awarded the 2021 Premio Sylvia Molloy for Best Article in the Humanities, presented by the Latin American Studies Association Sexualities Studies Section.

In concert with her work in critical race theory, affect, and performance studies, Cervantes-Gómez is also working concurrently on two books: Unsay It: Being Not Fully Human and Latin Remix: A Queer of Color Mixtape for the End of the World. This ongoing work examines the aesthetic of indigeneity, performance, sexuality, race, and transgender community in the pre-Columbian and contemporary Hemispheric Américas, namely Brazil, Caribbean, Mexico, and the United States.

Cervantes-Gómez's essays, contributing chapters, and book reviews have been published or forthcoming in Journal of Spanish Cultural StudiesAztlán: A Journal of Chicano StudiesMen and MasculinitiesChasquí: Revista de literatura latinoamericanaASAP/Journal, Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies, Journal of Visual Culture, and Routledge Handbook for Material Religion.


Ph.D., University of Southern California
M.A., University of Southern California
M.T.S., Harvard University
B.A., University of California, Riverside

Courses Taught

Graduate Courses

  • SPAN 535: The Politics of Pleasure: Latin America Queered, Exposed, and Affected
  • SPAN: 535 Bodies Experimentales
  • SPAN 572: Theory and Literary Criticism
  • SPAN/LLS 442: TRANSx

Undergraduate Courses

  • SPAN/LLS 246: Queer Latinx Divas
  • SPAN/LLS 246: Queer Latinx Feminisms
  • SPAN 254: Approaches to Culture
  • SPAN 326: Sexo y Poder
  • SPAN 324: Latin American Religion, Myths, and Rituals: Then and Now
  • SPAN 324: Malinche's México

Additional Campus Affiliations

Assistant Professor, Spanish and Portuguese
Assistant Professor, Gender and Women's Studies
Assistant Professor, Latina/Latino Studies
Assistant Professor, Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory
Assistant Professor, Religion
Assistant Professor, Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies
Assistant Professor, The Lemann Center for Brazilian Studies

Recent Publications

Cervantes-Gómez, X. V. (Accepted/In press). Bottoms Up: Queer Mexicanness and Latinx Performance. NYU Press.

Cervantes-Gómez, X. V. (2023). Mesoamerican Nightlife and the Queer Materialities of Religion. In P. T. Arab, J. Scheper Hughes, & S. B. Rodríguez-Plate (Eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Material Religion (Routledge Handbooks in Religion). Routledge.

Cervantes-Gómez, X. V. (2023). Queer Theory. In C. Soto van der Plas, & L. R. Buckwalter Cunningham (Eds.), Latino Literature: An Encyclopedia for Students ABC-CLIO.

Cervantes-Gómez, X. V. (2021). Lechedevirgen Trimegisto's Inferno Varieté, Queer Mexicanness, and the Aesthetics of Risk. ASAP/Journal, 6(1), 95-122.

Cervantes-Gómez, X. V. (2021). Where Blackness dies: The aesthetics of a massacre and the violence of remembering. Journal of Visual Culture, 20(1), 25-47.

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