The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Moran teaches students about literature, life


Professor Francisco Moran Photo credit: Amelia Hollow

Francisco Moran teaches Latin American Literature at SMU. He believes teaching students to be critical thinkers is his contribution to the world.

“Literature teaches you about life, I’m just being the medium,” said Moran, an associate professor in the department of World Languages and Literatures. “Making [students] see more clearly the link that their story has in the world we are living in.”

Moran may be demanding, his students said, but he is also one of their favorite professors on campus. He’s respectful, dedicated, open minded and inspirational, they said. SMU is celebrating the “Year of the Faculty” in 2014 as part of its Second Century Celebration and students say that Moran exemplifies what a good teacher is.

“His charm, sincerity and awareness for the world around him make each 50 minute class a 50 minute lesson in life,” said Sandra Silea, who is studying political science and international studies, and is taking a class from Moran this semester.

As a boy in Cuba, Moran said he was a successful student until he started taking science courses. He eventually transferred to a fine arts school to follow in the footsteps of his artist father. He became a teacher in Cuba by 1971, at the age of 19, but political problems in the country eventually led him to the United States in 1994. He received his Ph.D. in Literature from Georgetown University in 2002 and arrived at SMU the following year.

Along the way, Moran said he developed a strong sense of identity from constantly feeling like “the other.” His mixed heritage made it difficult for him to align with any one race. He felt out of place in Cuba for political reasons, and immigrated to the United States.

Because of his own background, he asks his students to think about their own sense of identity but to also be open-minded.

“I challenge my students to think about that artificial border that we create between us and ‘the other,’” Moran said. “Unfortunately we have come to live in a society that asks us to look at each other either as winners or losers.”

Moran believes that life and literature don’t need to be separate. Through his courses, he tries to apply each lesson to the world and get students thinking critically. He encourages collaboration instead of competition.

“He is genuine and raw, and it made me want to live my life differently, for the better,” said Chantelle Conley, one of Moran’s former students, who studies Spanish along with markets and culture.

Moran teaches with a sense of urgency, because he feels helpless in a world that seems to be falling apart.

“My purpose is not to convince them of anything, they are free to make their mind up about life and what they think,” Moran said. “But my duty as a professor is to show them that there is a different way to see things.”

One way he accomplishes this is by dressing in the late 19th century style. He does this as a way to prompt people around him to remember a time when people lived more slowly and had more personal contact. Although he loves apps like Spotify, he notes that we are now more disconnected than ever. His morning ritual of getting ready is also a rare moment of the day just for himself.

“Right now, when my health is not so good, this helps me a lot to deal with it, because it’s a joy,” Moran said. “So, I have problems with my balance, I’m dizzy, but when I dress, something changes a little bit. It’s like my life is still going on.“

Moran did not elaborate on his health, but said that he is still going strong in his classes and works out multiple times a week. He also conducts research and writes books and scholarly articles focusing on late 19th century Latin American Literature. But he derives the most joy in the classroom.

Moran treasures his students. He enjoys his office discussions with his students so much that he has them recorded to save the memories. He would like to invite any students to email him at [email protected] if they are interested in sitting down with
him to talk.

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