Michael Montesano, ’09: From Argentina to Peru to Bloomington, Indiana


After completing an epic poem about America for his English Honors thesis, Union alum Michael Montesano decided to see more of the world.  He is now back in the States as a Graduate Fellow in Comparative Literature (with a specialization in Anglophone and Francophone literatures in West Africa) at Indiana University-Bloomington. 

Michael checked in with the English department in 2012 when he began applying to graduate school:   

“I live in Cusco, Peru, and I just got married.  Yllari and I met while traveling in Chile . . .  Two years later, [we are]… in Cusco, where I teach 2nd grade English and Math at a bilingual school here.  In Cusco, I live among what Edward Luttwak calls “[c]apitalism’s more traumatic effects on the lives of individuals, families, neighbourhoods, cities and entire countries.”  Seeing it firsthand, I call it “institutionalized brutality.”  Here we run a project that’s fighting to keep the one public school open in a rural region.  We run a dormitory for the students whose families, as a result of devastating 2010 floods, scattered to far off communities.

Writing We Hailed at the Twilight [Michael’s creative thesis] was a cathartic experience for me . . .  Though I devoted my thesis to poetry, I have always had this plan of pursuing a Ph.D. in literature and some day teaching at the university level.  Comparative Literature seems like the proper route to a Ph.D. in African Literature.

I understand [African Literature] is not a common field, but I hope that will change.  The way I feel is that English-speaking African Literature has not been recognized for its contributions to Contemporary Literature in the English-speaking world.  English-speaking Africa deserves a place in university English departments.