Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Professor Profile: Larry LaFountain-Stokes
April 20, 2010 - 12:25am
By: Darryn Fitzgerald
The Michigan Daily. Direct link to article here.
For Associate Prof. Lawrence LaFountain-Stokes, using both English and Spanish in his classes is not just part of his job — it’s part of who he is.
Born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, LaFountain-Stokes grew up with an English-speaking father and a mother who spoke both English and Spanish. LaFountain-Stokes was raised using both languages and he attended bilingual schools for twelve years.
LaFountain-Stokes has taught at the University since 2003. He holds a joint appointment in the Latino Studies, American Culture, and Spanish departments and he said his work in these departments allows him to incorporate both English and Spanish into his teaching.
“Teaching in Spanish is a very integral part of what I do,” LaFountain-Stokes said. “If I don’t teach in Spanish I get depressed because I really enjoy the language.”
The courses he has taught at the University cover a variety of topics including LGBT studies, queer Hispanic culture and Latino and Caribbean literature, theater, performance and film.
The controversial nature of some of LaFountain-Stokes’ courses, like those on LGBT issues and feminism, can make teaching more challenging, but he said it also makes his job more interesting.
“It makes it more satisfying for me to be able to talk about socially complex issues in the classroom,” he said.
Before coming to the University, LaFountain-Stokes attended Harvard University. During his time there he studied abroad at the University of São Paulo in Brazil where he lived for a year and half. He said his time away from Harvard “put things into perspective.”
“Living abroad was much more challenging.” LaFountain-Stokes said. “Going to a private school in the U.S. where the library had books and there weren’t strikes, and where you could walk to class and there was no hyper-inflation, it made it very easy.”
Following his studies in Cambridge and São Paulo, LaFountain-Stokes went on to earn Master’s and Doctorate degrees in Spanish from Columbia University in New York.
After his time at Columbia, LaFountain-Stokes began teaching at Ohio State University where he worked as an assistant professor from 1998 to 1999. He then went on to teach at Rutgers from 1999 to 2003.
In addition to his work in the classroom, LaFountain-Stokes is also the author of Queer Ricans: Cultures and Sexualities in the Diaspora, as well as a recipient of numerous awards and scholastic fellowships including the Woodrow Wilson Award.