Reynolds “Rey” Andujar
Reynolds Andujar writes and teaches what he knows—literature, and he does both well.
An award-winning author, Assistant Professor Andujar teaches courses in Spanish literature at Governors State University (GSU) as well Sociology and freshman year seminar. Now in his third year at GSU’s Division of Arts and Letters, Andujar says he enjoys the diversity of his students and courses.
“Here, I have worked with students on everything from yoga and performance to classes like sociology or a Latin American literature,” he said, noting he taught yoga in as part of freshman year seminar.
“I’m still close to my main topic because I teach Spanish,” said Andujar, who joined GSU in 2015. “But at the same time I’m teaching these other classes and they are very enriching to my experience. I learn a lot.”
When not in class, chances are the Dominican-born author is working on his next project.
Since 2005, Andujar has published eight books and produced short films earning him awards at literary or cinema festivals in Spain, Cuba and the United States.
His second novel, “Candela,” has been adapted for a film and recently received grant funding through La Fabrique Cinema in France (affiliated with the Cannes Festival) to produce the film, which is expected to be released in 2020 in the Dominican Republic, Haiti and France, simultaneously. Andujar also has been published in scholarly publications and presented his work at various conferences. His research and teaching interests include Latin American and Caribbean studies; race, ethnicity and national identity; cultural and social studies; the relationship between body, language and literature, and the performing arts.
He serves as editorial director of Revista Contratiempo in Chicago, is an Artistic Associate at Chicago’s Aguijon Theater Company, and a member of the Modern Language Association.
GSU Newsroom: Tell us about your literary work.
Andujar: I write mainly fiction and for film and theatre. I have three novels and three collections of short stories. Right now I’m in the middle of production of one my novels as a movie. The film is about my second novel, “Candela,” a representation of the social classes and clashes in the Dominican Republic and with Haiti. The main character is bi-racial—Dominican and Haitian—and through him we see how difficult it is for biracial people on the island. This was my break-through novel there and now 11 years later we are ready to go with this script and film that will be produced by Andres Farias Cintron.
GSU Newsroom: What role does literature play in today’s society?
Andujar: It provides some context to people’s own lives. Even if you go and check something on Google you need context. That’s what literature does. It gives you the possibility to provide that context, to create, and to dream.
GSU Newsroom: What are the benefits of learning another language?
Andujar: The language courses are a great place to interact with people and share a lot about your culture and learn about the culture you are living in. That’s the approach we try to have with Spanish within the department — that learning another language opens a lot of doors. That’s what I like about this class. I like to provide people with the tools to deal with a change in America and how language is a great part of that. We have classes from basic Spanish grammar all the way to Spanish for business professionals and health professionals.
GSU Newsroom: What research projects are you are working on?
Andujar: I’m working on research project about the author Junot Diaz who writes about immigration and national trust. He plunges into how Dominican families are breaking up very early and trying to reunite in the United States and how that works and sometimes doesn’t work and how we are affected by it.
There’s a lot of misunderstanding about the immigrant and their families. He uses a very unique lens and a very knowledgeable voice to help Americans understand what the immigrant goes through. He translates all of these situations and struggles into beautiful English.
GSU Newsroom: What do you hope students get out of your classes?
Andujar: A clearer understanding of their surroundings and an opening to explore other people’s lifestyles and conditions and definitions—for them to be more tolerant and less judgmental. Those are skills that we could develop to be able to communicate, especially in these times.