Languages & Literature

Spanish Faculty

Elizabeth NicholsElizabeth Gackstetter Nichols, Ph.D. 

Professor of Spanish

Office: Pearsons Room 306
Phone: (417) 873-6925
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View Curriculum Vitae (PDF)

Dr. Elizabeth Nichols became a member of the Drury University faculty in 1997 after earning her master’s degree and doctorate from the University of Kansas. Dr. Nichols specializes in Latin American Literature and Culture, Women’s Studies and International Beauty Practices, with a focus on Venezuela.

In 2012 Dr. Nichols received a Fulbright award to teach and study in Argentina in the area of Gender Studies and Beauty Practices.  She is the contributing editor at large for Venezuela and Colombia for the Library of Congress’ Handbook of Latin American Studies and has been invited to present her work at national and international conferences.

Her paper “The War of Silicon: Aesthetic Surgery, consumption and physical beauty in Venezuela,” presented at the Cambridge University, UK can be viewed here.

A podcast of her presentation as part of a Greenleaf Visiting Scholar award in 2015 is available from the University of New Mexico for listening here.

Dr. Nichols is the author of a variety of books, articles and encyclopedia entries in her research fields, including:

Venezuela: In Focus. (with Kimberly J. Morse). Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-Clio, 2010.

Popular Culutre in Latin America and the Carribbean: (With Timothy Robbins). Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-Clio, 2015.

Dr. Nichols’ current research deals with ideals of physical beauty for women in Latin America and its representation in literature and popular culture. As part of that work, she is currently completing two manuscripts for publication in 2016-2017:

No Such Thing as Inner Beauty: Dress, Cosmetics and Success in Venezuela 1850-2015. New York: Lexington.

Beauty Around the World: A Cultural Encyclopedia. (With Erin Kenny). Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-Clio. 

B.A., University of Missouri-Columbia, 1991
M.A., University of Kansas, 1993
Ph.D., University of Kansas, 1997

Drury University faculty member since 1997
Professor since 2009

Tim RobbinsTim Robbins

Associate Professor of Spanish

Office: Pearsons Hall 302
Phone: (417) 873-7304
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Dr. Tim Robbins became a member of the Drury Faculty in 2007.  Dr. Robbins is a graduate of Drury University and earning a master’s degree from the University of Kansas and a doctorate from the University of Nebraska. 

Dr. Robbins’ research includes contemporary Latin American narrative, with special interest given to its relation to the cannon and to popular culture.  He is currently working as co-editor on a collection of essays which address new narrative in Latin America.

B.A., Drury University, 2003
M.A., University of Kansas, 2005
Ph.D., University of Nebraska, 2011

Drury University faculty member since 2008
Associate Professor since 2015

Heidi BackesHeidi Backes

Assistant Professor of Spanish

Phone: (417) 873-6355
Office: Pearsons 309
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Dr. Heidi Backes received her Ph.D. in Modern Peninsular Literature from the University of Wisconsin in 2011. She specializes in 19th-century Romanticism and Naturalism, and wrote her doctoral dissertation on the neo-Gothic movement in contemporary Spanish fiction. She is the author of several articles and book chapters on modern Spanish literature, and she is currently working on a book-length project that explores the Gothic literary tradition in Spain.

Dr. Backes has taught courses on 19th- and 20th-century Spanish fiction, an introduction to literary analysis, a graduate seminar in literary theory, and the evolution of Spanish visual and print culture during the Franco dictatorship. She is also very passionate about international travel, and loves to share her travel experiences with her students and to encourage them to study abroad.    

B.A., University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, 2004
M.A., University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 2007
Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2011

Drury University faculty member since 2012
Assistant Professor since 2012

Tony SmithTony Smith

Instructor of Spanish

Phone: (417) 873-6811
Office: Pearsons Hall 409
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B.A., University of Central Oklahoma, 2002
M.A., University of Oklahoma, 2006

Drury University faculty member since 2012
Instructor since 2012