Assistant Professor of Music and Performance Studies
Latinx and Chicanx popular culture
Music and Affect
Critical race feminisms
Mexican popular song
Lorena Alvarado holds a Ph.D. and M.A. in Culture and Performance from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a B.A. in Modern Literature and Latin American and Latino Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her research is inspired by the music her working-class, immigrant parents introduced to her early on: rancheras, banda, norteñas, and baladas. Music evoked both sound and sensations, hailed unspoken and overhead histories of pride and shame, nationalism and alienation. The performances by ranchera and banda music singers; their gestures, voices, and the responses these elicited; spark her development of a theory of sentimiento, the vernacular idiom that signifies the art and artifice of conveying emotion in popular music. Her work focuses primarily mid 20th and early 21st century U.S. Mexican and Latinx singers, including Lucha Reyes and Chavela Vargas. She focuses her feminist reading on works that challenge the normative, nationalist paradigms of Mexican transborder song. In addition, she is interested in poetry, decolonial thought, and the Southwest. She has published book chapters in the Routledge Companion to Latina/o Media and the Cambridge History of Latina/o American Literature. Prior to joining the faculty at UC Merced, Dr. Alvarado was Lecturer at the University of Houston, and a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at Northwestern University.