Sophie Esch


  • Ph. D., Spanish & Portuguese, Tulane University, 2014
  • M. A., Latin American Literature, Political Science, North American Studies, Freie Universität Berlin, 2009

Areas of Interest

  • Mexican, Central American, and Luso-African literature and culture
  • Revolutions and war in the postcolonial world; violence, modernity & technology
  • Animal-human studies; environmental humanities
  • Global South & Atlantic studies; Latin America-Africa

Research and Teaching
Sophie Esch is Assistant Professor of Mexican and Central American literature at Rice. Her research focuses on revolutions and armed conflict in the Global South. Her book, Modernity at Gunpoint. Firearms, Politics, and Culture in Mexico and Central America[1]  (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2018), which won the 2019 prize for best book in the humanities by the Mexico section of the Latin American Studies Association (LASA), provides a critical exploration of the political and cultural significance of firearms in the Mexican Revolution, the Sandinista Revolution, postwar Central America, and the drug war in Mexico. Her current book project, Animals and Armed Conflict, analyzes questions of trauma, redemption, and agency in relation to the presence of animals in contemporary war and postwar narratives from Latin America and Africa. Her other book project, Latitudes of Love and War, explores questions of intimacy and ideology in representations of South-South and North-South solidarity in Mexico, Nicaragua, and Angola. She is a faculty affiliate of the Program in Politics, Law & Social Thought and the Center for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality. She is also the Humanities Divisional Advisor and an Associate at Hanszen College.

Modernity at Gunpoint. Firearms, Politics, and Culture in Mexico and Central America, University of Pittsburgh Press, Illuminations Series (2018). Winner of the 2019 LASA-Mexico Section Award for Best Book in the Humanities.

Special Issue for a Journal

“Passages, Transits, Flows. Thinking Central American Literature across Space, Time, and Capital,” editor of a special issue of the Revista de Estudios Hispánicos (accepted; forthcoming, 2020).

Peer-Reviewed Articles and Book Chapters (Selection)

“Hippopotamus Dead or Alive: Animals and Trauma in Narratives of the Drug War,” Revista Hispánica Moderna (forthcoming, 2020)

“Uneven Battles: Central American Cold War Literature,” The Palgrave Handbook on Cold War Literature, edited by Andrew Hammond, Palgrave Macmillan (forthcoming, 2020)

“El rifle como reliquia en las memorias letradas sandinistas: Gioconda Belli y Sergio Ramírez,” Revista Telar (2018), no. 21, pp. 113-136.

“¿El arma en la sociedad? La novela del desmovilizado, militarismo e introspección en la obra de Castellanos Moya,” Tiranas ficciones. Poéticas y políticas de la escritura en la obra de Horacio Castellanos Moya, edited by Magdalena Perkowska and Oswaldo Zavala, Pittsburgh: Instituto Internacional de Literatura Iberoamericana (2018), pp. 189-211.

“In the Company of Animals: Otherness, Empathy, and Community in De fronteras by Claudia Hernández,” Revista de Estudios Hispánicos (2017), vol. 51 no. 3, pp. 571-593.

“In the Crossfire: Rascón Banda’s Contrabando and the ‘Narcoliterature’ Debate in Mexico,” Latin American Perspectives (2014), vol. 41 no. 2: pp. 161-176.