Verónica Gutiérrez, MFA, Ph.D.

Director of Undergraduate Research
Associate Professor of Latin American History, Department of History and Political Science
Phone: (626) 815-6000, Ext. 3134
Office Location: Ronald Building, Room 120
Photo of Verónica Gutiérrez, MFA, Ph.D.

Biography

Growing up in a bilingual household unable to speak Spanish – a common phenomenon for Mexican-Americans of her generation – Verónica Gutiérrez never imagined she would, in 2012, join the Department of History and Political Science as APU’s first Latin American specialist. Trained as a creative writer and historian, Gutiérrez retains sensitivity to the story, narrative arc, character, and unheard voices in her Latin American history courses, which range from pre-contact to modern and are fueled by her passion for challenging the myths pervading native peoples of the Americas. Serving briefly as an Internationalization Faculty Fellow in APU’s Center for Global Learning and Engagement, she worked toward improving student experience during the Semester in Ecuador. Director of Undergraduate Research since 2016, she is privy to the impressive breadth of undergraduate scholarship at APU, awarding competitive research grants and travel funds for students to present at academic conferences across the globe.

Curiosity about her family’s Mexican Catholicism prompted Gutiérrez to study the development of indigenous Christianity in sixteenth-century Mexico. She is currently engaged in writing the first history of early colonial Cholula, Puebla, a former Mesoamerican sacred site and arguably the oldest continuously-inhabited city in the Americas. Cholula is also where she finally mastered Spanish during her Fulbright year. On breaks from archival research, she would sit in the pews of neighborhood churches during rituals honoring the Virgin Mary, and walk alongside locals as they sang and held aloft their patron saints, guided by Franciscan friars along ancient Mesoamerican processional routes. Arriving in 1528, the friars remain critical actors in the community, studying, preserving, and disseminating Cholula’s rich sacred history.

Gutiérrez’s publications exude a narrative style emerging from her interdisciplinary training, earning her the 2011 Hubert Herring Award for Best Article from the Pacific Coast Council on Latin American Studies. She has provided keynote addresses in the U.S. and Mexico and lectured at a variety of venues, including the San Gabriel Mission, Baylor’s Institute for Studies of Religion and the Franciscan School of Theology in Berkeley. Her research has received a variety of institutional support, notably from COMEXUS Fulbright-García Robles (2007), the Academy of American Franciscan History (2008), Spain’s Ministry of Culture (2009), Ford Foundation (2011), the Graves Award in the Humanities (2016), and Notre Dame’s Global Religion Research Initiative (2018). In 2017 she was one of seven faculty speakers featured at APU’s TEDx event (see Related Links on right).

To commemorate the quincentennial anniversary of European arrival to the Americas, Gutiérrez co-led a faculty development tour through central Mexico, “From 1519 to 2019: Indigenous Christianity in Mexico 500 Years after Cortés,” sponsored by the Conference on Faith and History’s Latin America Initiative (#CFHMexico2019). The University of the Americas-Puebla also invited her to speak at a coloquio in Cholula commemorating the massacre of the Cholulteca people by Hernando Cortés and his indigenous allies in October 1519.

In addition to her degrees in history from UCLA, Gutiérrez earned an MFA in Creative Non-fiction from the Pennsylvania State University, where she held a Bunton-Waller Fellowship. She and her husband enjoy an active life near the beach with their children, ages six, four, and two.

Gutiérrez is on Sabbatical Leave in 2019-2020 as an American Association of University Women (AAUW) Postdoctoral Research Leave Fellow.

Education

  • Ph.D., Colonial Mexican History, UCLA
  • C.Phil., Colonial Latin American History, UCLA
  • M.A., Latin American History, UCLA
  • M.F.A., Creative Nonfiction, Pennsylvania State University
  • B.A., Creative Writing, University of San Francisco

Academic Area

  • College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
    • Department of History and Political Science

Expertise

  • Early Modern Catholicism
  • Latin American History
  • Mesoamerican Cultures

Courses Taught

  • HIST 120 – World Civilizations to 1648
  • HIST 201 – World Civilizations and Geography
  • POLI 300 – Research and Writing
  • HIST 300 – Introduction to Historical Studies
  • HIST 392 – Colonial Latin America
  • HIST 393 – Modern Latin America
  • HIST 393 – Ritual and Re-enactment in Modern Latin America
  • HIST 484 – Historical Themes: Native Peoples Before and After the Spanish Conquest
  • HIST 484 – Historical Themes: Gods and Demons in Sixteenth-Century Mexico: Franciscan Evangelization of Native Peoples in New Spain
  • POLI 496 – Senior Seminar in Politics and Religion: Encounters with Christ