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Mary L. Coffey

Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures; On leave for the 2021-2022 academic year
With Pomona Since: 1995
  • Expertise


    Mary Coffey is an expert on 19th- and early 20th-century Spanish literature and culture. Her work on realist and historical fiction addresses the complex cultural processes by which Spain, throughout the long 19th century, processed the loss of its global colonial empire and its changing position on the global stage. In addition to the work of novelists Benito Pérez Galdós, Leopoldo Alas, Emilia Pardo Bazán and José María Pereda, her work also explores the role of panoramic literature (costumbrismo) in the development of post-colonial identities, both in Spain and in newly independent nations in Latin America. From 2011 to 2014, Coffey served as president of the Asociación Internacional de Galdosistas, an academic non-profit international organization devoted to the study of 19th and 20th-century Spanish literature and culture. From 2017-2018, she served as the director of the Pacific Basin Institute at Pomona College, an interdisciplinary center devoted to the study of art, culture, economics, politics, history and religion of the Asia-Pacific region. Since 2016, Coffey has served as associate dean of the college at Pomona College, with a focus on international initiatives.

    Research Interests

    • Nineteenth-Century Spanish Literature
    • Twentieth-Century Spanish Literature
    • Comparative Literature
    • Contemporary Spanish Culture

    Areas of Expertise


    • Nineteenth-century Spanish Literature
    • Early Twentieth-Century Spanish Literature
    • Cultural Studies
  • Work


    Ghosts of Colonies Past and Present: Spanish Imperialism in the Early Fiction of Benito Pérez Galdós. (forthcoming, Liverpool University Press)

    Imagined Truths: Realism in Modern Spanish Literature and Culture. Eds. Mary Coffey and Margot Versteeg. Iberic Series. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2019.

    “Realism, Fantasy and the Trope of Colonial Relations in Galdós's Fiction,” Intersections of "Race," Class and Gender and Nation in Fin-de-siècle Spanish Literature and Culture. Eds. Jennifer Smith and Lisa Nalbone. London: Routledge, 2016. 165-184.

    “El imperio pintado por sí mismo: el costumbrismo transatlántico,” Hispanismos del mundo. Diálogos y dabates en (y desde) el Sur. Anexo digital. Sección V. Leonardo Funes, Ed. Buenos Aires, Argentina: Miño y Dávila, 2016. 139-150.

    “La historia como debiera ser: los historiadores galdosianos y la masculinidad,” Actas del X Congreso Galdosiano 2013. Las Palmas de Gran Canaria: Cabildo de Gran Canaria, 2015. 283-288.

    "Galdós's 'locas aventuras' and the madness of Spanish colonialism." Studies in Honor of Vernon Chamberlain. Mark A. Harpring, ed. Delaware: Juan de la Cuesta Press, 2011. 37-48.

    "De profecía a parodia: Galdós y el republicanismo español." Actas del XIX Congreso Internacional Galdosiano. Las Palmas de Gran Canaria: Cabildo de Gran Canaria, 2011. 312-319. CD-ROM.

    "El costumbrismo decimonónico y la ansiedad colonial, o cómo representar la pérdida del imperio." Actas del XVI Congreso de la Asociación Internacional de Hispanistas (2007). Madrid: Iberoamericana, 2010. CD-ROM.

    "Las colonias perdidas: Un episodio nacional que no escribió Galdós" Actas del VIII Congreso Internacional Galdosiano Las Palmas de Gran Canaria: Cabildo de Gran Canaria, 2009. 704-713.

    "Un curso de filosofía práctica: Galdós's Assessment of Spanish Colonial History" Anales galdosianos. XXXVIII-XXXIX (2003-2004): 49-67.

    "Un teólogo patas arriba: subplots and short-circuits in La Regenta," Bulletin of Hispanic Studies, 78 (December 2001): 577-596.

    "Galdós Sails to the Colonies: Searching for Spanish Idenity in La vuelta al mundo en la Numancia," Revista Hispánica Moderna (December 1999): 350-364.

  • Education


    Northwestern University

    Master of Arts
    University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

    Bachelor of Arts
    University of Illinois, Chicago

    Recent Courses Taught

    • España en crisis: La literatura española de 1898-1936
    • Introducción al análisis literario
    • The New Spain: Introduction to Cultural Studies
    • La vanguardia en España
    • Románticos y realistas: La literatura española decimonónica
  • Awards & Honors

    Awards & Honors

    Asociación Internacional de Galdosistas: President 2012-2014; Junta Directiva 2010-2012.

    Modern Language Association; Executive Division on Eighteenth and Nineteenth-century Spanish literature. 2010-2014

    National Endowment for the Humanities; Summer Stipend, 2009; Sabbatical Subvention, 2006-2007

    Pomona College, Yale-Griffith Summer Research Travel Grant, 1997, 2005, 2011.

    Research Grant, Program for Cultural Cooperation Between Spain's Ministry of Culture and United States' Universities; 2005, 1999.

    National Endowment for the Humanities, Summer Institute, "Text, Context and Authority in Nineteenth-Century Spanish Realism: Leopoldo Alas's La Regenta," Duke University, Summer 1999.

    Fulbright-Hayes Research Fellowship, for study in Spain, 1991-92.