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Major in Spanish
As the foreign language of choice for many students at Colby, Spanish accounts for nearly fifty percent of the total enrollments for all modern language courses. The Department of Spanish plays a central role in the fulfillment of a meaningful liberal arts education, providing students the unique opportunity to study and learn about cultures other than their own, while preparing those students for a more in-depth exploration of both their own and others’ distinct cultural values.... More »
The Department of Spanish offers two programs designed to deepen students’ understanding of cultural difference and diversity: a language program that fulfills the all-college distribution requirement in foreign language and an academic major program. In its commitment to the study of foreign languages, the Department of Spanish strives to prepare students for active engagement in the Spanish-speaking world, both within the United States and abroad. Our language courses facilitate oral and written communication by presenting grammar in a cultural context. The language classroom provides a space for students to appreciate cultural connections and differences and to grow into their role as global citizens.
The academic major program offers a course of study in Spanish, Latin American, and United States Latino literature and culture. Spanish majors attain depth and breadth of literary and cultural knowledge across historical periods and geographical areas. The program is committed to promoting greater critical awareness of the differentials of power that perpetuate social injustice and inform cultural and cross-cultural assumptions. Students acquire the skills to become close readers and critical thinkers, and to explore different modes of cultural production within specific social, political, and historical contexts. Our pedagogical goal is to prepare students to be productive critics of the world beyond the texts. To that end, students examine the ways in which different texts challenge or affirm aesthetic conventions and dominant social narratives, including race, class, gender, sexuality, nationality, and imperialism. In the process, our majors are encouraged to analyze the connections among systems of domination and to develop as scholars and promoters of social justice.
To complete the Spanish major, students must fulfill a total of nine courses. All majors are required to take “Introduction to Literary Analysis,” and “Advanced Grammar and Composition,” and at least seven additional literature/culture courses at the 200 level or above, including at least one course in each of the following areas: Spanish, Latin American, and U.S. Latino literatures/cultures. Majors must take two courses on literature written before 1800 and two on literature after 1800. Senior majors must enroll in 300- or 400- level courses and must take at least one senior seminar. We also offer our majors the possibility of pursuing a Senior Honors Thesis, which is undertaken in addition to all required courses for the major.
All Spanish majors are required to spend a minimum of one semester in a Spanish-speaking country and we strongly encourage our majors to spend an entire academic year studying abroad. Since many of our majors combine the study of Spanish with another discipline, the faculty of the Department of Spanish work closely with students in an advisory role to ensure that majors can successfully fulfill the study abroad requirement. In recent years, Spanish majors have studied in a wide variety of cultural contexts, including Spain, Ecuador, Chile, Bolivia, and Argentina. While Spanish majors have the option of studying in either Spain or Latin America, many students choose to participate in Colby’s own, nationally acclaimed program in Salamanca, Spain. The Colby-in-Salamanca program also offers a separate language acquisition program for students who wish to fulfill the language requirement abroad.
The Department of Spanish cultivates an excellent rapport with its students outside of class and organizes a variety of departmental activities. Our weekly Spanish tables, conducted in residential dining halls, are open to all students, faculty, and staff interested in practicing Spanish while sharing a meal. The Spanish tables are run by our Spanish assistant from the University of Salamanca, but members of the Spanish staff attend regularly. Students of Spanish can also enjoy Spanish Club activities that often include a film series. Our Peer Mentoring Program provides a unique opportunity for students with advanced language proficiency to assist students at the elementary and intermediate levels. In addition, selected majors have the opportunity to work with the faculty of the Spanish Department as research assistants.
The Department of Spanish and all students of foreign language benefit from Colby’s excellent Language Resource Center established with the generous support of a Colby/Bates/Bowdoin Mellon Grant for Foreign Language Technology. Taking advantage of this valuable resource, faculty members in the department have developed a number of innovative and challenging exercises, activities, and assignments for both language and literature courses.
Since many of our students are double majors, they pursue a wide variety of career options after graduation. Several have won either Rotary Scholarships to pursue graduate studies abroad or Fulbright Teaching Fellowships. Some have been selected to participate in the highly selective Teach for America Program, which places them as educators in educationally under-resourced areas of the United States. Others have opted to pursue graduate studies in Spanish or bilingual education at such institutions as Brown University, Georgetown University, University of Massachusetts, Rutgers University, Stanford University, and the University of Virginia. Still others have chosen careers in secondary school teaching, international relations, social work, law, journalism, publishing, and medicine.