• 2013, M.A. English and Comparative Literature, UNC-Chapel Hill.
  • 2008, B.A. English, George Mason University.


María J. Durán is a PhD Candidate in the Department of English and Comparative Literature and Graduate Assistant for the UNC Latina/o Studies Program. Her dissertation examines portrayals of pain in Latinx literature and the ways it can give birth to or elevate political consciousness to incite resistance and social protest in Latinx communities.

Durán has served as a guest blogger for UNC’s Institute for the Study of the Americas (ISA), and she has published in the leading Chicana/o Studies Journal, Aztlán. She has taught ENGL 105, ENGL 105i Business, ENGL 129, WGST 233, and ENGL 364.  As a theatre artist, Durán co-directed a sold-out production of In the Heights(Spring 2017), staged at The ArtsCenter in Carrboro, NC. She was invited to share her theatre work at the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures (NALAC) Regional Arts Training in Charlotte, NC (Summer 2017). Recently, she directed a staged reading of Just Like Us, a play about undocumented youth by Karen Zacarías (March 2018). She currently serves on the PlayMakers Repertory Company Advisory Council.

Durán is an advocate for underrepresented minority education.  She has worked with The Moore Undergraduate Research Apprentice Program (MURAP) at UNC-Chapel Hill to assist talented underrepresented undergraduate students from diverse backgrounds in their pursuit of doctoral degrees. In Summer 2015, she received the UNC Graduate School’s Richard Bland Fellowship and interned with Juntos, a North Carolina State University cooperative extension program that helps Latinx students achieve higher education. She is also a Carolina Firsts Advocate for undergraduate students and serves on the advisory board for the Carolina Grad Student F1RSTS. In her spare time, Durán enjoys visiting coffeeshops, hot yoga, traveling, and spending time with her two pet bunnies. Click here to read about Durán’s decision to pursue graduate studies and what advice she has for prospective graduate students.


Refereed Journal Articles

  • “Bodies That Should Matter: Chicana/o Farmworkers, Slow Violence, and the Politics of (In)visibility in Cherríe Moraga’s Heroes and Saints.” Aztlán: A Journal of Chicano Studies, vol 42, no 1, 2017, pp. 45-71.

Other Publications (published under maiden name “Obando”)

  • “Harvesting Dignity: Remembering the Lives of Farmworkers.” Institute for the Study of the Americas, UNC-CH (December 2012).
  • “Latinos Reach New Highs in College Enrollment.” Institute for the Study of the Americas, UNC-CH (November 2012).


  • Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship, Honorable Mention (April 2018)
  • Diversity and Student Success Travel Award, The Graduate School, UNC-CH (April 2018)
  • Performing Arts Special Activities Fund Grant, Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost, UNC-CH (2017-2018)
  • Chancellor’s Doctoral Candidacy Award, Initiative for Minority Excellence, UNC-CH (Fall 2017).
  • Mellon Dissertation Grant, Institute for the Study of the Americas, UNC-CH (Summer 2017).
  • Hispanic Scholarship Fund Scholar (Spring 2017).
  • Future Faculty Fellowship Program, Center for Faculty Excellence, UNC-CH (Fall 2016).
  • Florence Brann Eble Summer Research Fellowship, The Graduate School, UNC-CH (Summer 2016).
  • Richard Bland Fellowship, The Graduate School, UNC-CH (Summer 2015).
  • Travel Grant, English and Comparative Literature, UNC-CH (Spring 2017, 2015, 2013, 2012).
  • Moore Undergraduate Research Apprentice Program Fellowship (Summer 2008).