Barry McNamara  |  Published May 24, 2022

Hatch Award for Scholarship

Internationally renowned author Jennifer Thorndike-Gonzales receives one of College’s prestigious faculty awards.

MONMOUTH, Ill. – A professor who’s made a name for herself internationally as a writer of both fiction and scholarly works is one of the recipients of Monmouth College’s prestigious Hatch Awards for Academic Excellence.

JENNIFER THORNDIKE-GONZALES: Internationally renowned author receives Monmouth's Hatch Award ... JENNIFER THORNDIKE-GONZALES: Internationally renowned author receives Monmouth's Hatch Award for Scholarship and Creative Work.Jennifer Thorndike-Gonzales, who chairs the College’s Department of Spanish and Latin American Studies, received the Hatch Award for Scholarship and Creative Work.

The internationally renowned novelist, short-story writer and scholar joined Monmouth’s faculty in 2017. Since that time, she’s had three scholarly articles published, and two more are awaiting publication. She has also written several reviews of films and books and been a keynote or invited speaker 19 times at 15 different events.

“As an educator, scholar and author, topics regarding equity and the struggles of underrepresented groups are at the core of my interventions, courses and books,” said Thorndike-Gonzales.

In the months ahead, she has two books set for release, both from Random House: a novel, Nuestras mujeres (Our Women) and a scholarly work, Ser improductivo: Enfermedad, precariedad y migración en la era de la biopolítica (Be Unproductive: Disease, Precariousness and Migration in the Era of Biopolitics).

It’s all connected

“My research and my scholarly and fiction writing are all connected,” she said, before discussing her upcoming novel, specifically. “It’s about the indigenous people of my native country, Peru. It’s in an historical context, but the story is fictitious. It focuses on the forced sterilization crimes against indigenous women in Peru’s Andes region. It’s about how the State controls the body.”

“(Reading is an activity you can use to help you rethink what you’ve thought before and reflect on your beliefs. It’s part of the critical thinking that we teach here at the College.” Jennifer Thorndike-Gonzales

Thorndike-Gonzales’ breadth and quality of work has especially stood out to her Monmouth colleagues.

“Professor Thorndike-Gonzales’ creative and scholarly output is truly outstanding,” said Dean of the Faculty Mark Willhardt. “She is as comfortable working in fiction as she is charting theories of the body, and is distinguished in both areas. Maintaining her creative and scholarly excellence while chairing a department and teaching a full load is no easy task, yet she manages with aplomb.”

Thorndike-Gonzales has represented Peru at several international book fairs, such as the FIL Guadalajara in Mexico, as well as fairs in Colombia and the Dominican Republic. In 2016, she was selected by the committee of the Guadalajara book fair as “one of the most outstanding Latin American writers born during the eighties.”

“I’m a person who is always reading and researching,” said Thorndike-Gonzales from her office shortly after the spring semester had ended. Fittingly, she was in the midst of a six-week online course on leadership in diversity, equity and inclusion.

“I hope that I can pass that passion for reading on to my students,” she said. “Reading can be hard to do today with all the different elements that consume our time – our phones and social media. But it’s an activity you can use to help you rethink what you’ve thought before and reflect on your beliefs. It’s part of the critical thinking that we teach here at the College.”

Charting a new course

Through nearly a dozen Monmouth courses she’s created or modified, Thorndike-Gonzales is also passing on her “exceptional base of knowledge.”

“Jennifer has applied her exceptional base of knowledge and experience developed as a scholar and fiction writer to the considerable benefit of Monmouth students,” wrote her nominator for the Hatch Award. “Her focus on the world of health – on its various levels – in her scholarship and fiction has been directly applied to three of the classes that she has created and taught at Monmouth.”

“Professor Thorndike-Gonzales’ creative and scholarly output is truly outstanding. She is as comfortable working in fiction as she is charting theories of the body, and is distinguished in both areas.” Dean Mark Willhardt 

Three more classes have been created through her interest in the lives and concerns of Latin American people, of women in general, and of Latin American women, in particular.

Examples include two courses in the Spanish major – “Health from a Cultural Perspective” and “Spanish for Health Professions” – as well as a pair of integrated studies courses – “The Secret Lives of Women in Literature” and “The Body We Inhabit: Health, Illness and Culture.”

The latter course explores worldwide narratives, prioritizing non-Western traditions that explore the diverse forces that control the body. Themes include illness, race, sexuality, the Holocaust, environmental problematics, alternative medicine and sexual violence.

“Dr. Thorndike’s work as an internationally renowned creative writer and scholar puts her in extremely select company,” wrote her nominator. “The honors and press that she has received are a mark of particular prestige for Monmouth. Our students gain from the opportunity to learn from a probing intellect who is perpetually learning and skilled at sharing the insights she has gained through her exceptional efforts.”

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