Romance Languages

  • Degree Type Bachelor of Arts
  • Department Romance Languages
  • Academic Division The College
  • Offerings Major

A group of students pose for a picture A group of students pose for a picture

Washington and Lee fosters an intellectual interest in language and provides students with the skills to use the language in a multiplicity of contexts. Cultural fluency is established through the examination of literary, historical and cultural texts, as well as other forms of expression.

Romance Languages

The Romance Languages major combines an emphasis in French or Spanish language, literature and culture, and Hispanic linguistics, with language and cultural proficiency in a second Romance language, which could be French, Italian, Portuguese or Spanish. There are two components to the major: Complete the French or Spanish major with one fewer 200-level elective (27 credits), and complete six credits at the 200-level of a second Romance language. To meet the second component, students typically start with Elementary Spanish or French (111), or Accelerated Elementary Portuguese or Italian (113).

The affiliated Latin American and Caribbean Studies Program (LACS) provides the intellectual excitement of an interdisciplinary approach to the exploration of multicultural societies that speak French, Portuguese and Spanish.

World Language FDR

One of the Foundation and Distribution Requirements at Washington and Lee is proficiency in a world language. Romance Languages offers coursework toward language proficiency in French, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese, and fulfillment of the foreign language FDR.

If you have a background in French or Spanish and wish to study the same language at W&L, take the placement test to determine the right class for you. Placement 161: Register for French or Spanish 161; Placement 164: Register for French or Spanish 164; Placement 200: Register for any French or Spanish 200-level course.

If you have a background in French or Spanish and wish to start a new language, take the placement test and register for Italian or Portuguese 113, Spanish 111 or French 111. If you have studied little or no French or Spanish and would like to study one of those languages, register for French or Spanish 111.

If you have studied Italian or Portuguese, contact the department for course placement.

Opportunities

Romance Languages is affiliated with study abroad programs in most of Spanish America, Portugal and Brazil, Italy, Spain and France. An extended study abroad experience sets students on the road to linguistic and cultural fluency and is strongly encouraged by our faculty. For students who are pursuing Portuguese or Italian as a second language for the Romance Languages major, study abroad is an excellent way to complete the major.

Back in Lexington, language tables such as Table Français, Mesa Española and Bate-Papo Brasileiro meet twice a week and are a great way for students to practice languages with W&L’s native teaching assistants and faculty.

The English for Speakers of Other Languages Program (ESOL) facilitates communication within the increasingly diverse population of Rockbridge County.

Other opportunities include Casa Hispánica, where students live and speak Spanish, and which serves as a weekly meeting place for cultural activities; French and Portuguese language student-run clubs; Romance Languages Poetry Night; and Pluma, a Spanish-language literary journal.

In addition, students are encouraged to participate in our honors program, which allows engagement in original research with a faculty member on a topic of interest. Completed projects are invaluable assets for graduate or professional school.

Faculty research projects in Art History or Digital Humanities; Spring Term study abroad courses in Italy, France, Argentina, Cádiz and Sevilla, Spain; and Environmental Studies in the Brazilian Amazon offer additional opportunities for progress in language and cultural fluency.

Outcomes

Our majors have gone on to pursue graduate study as well as careers in which language and cultural proficiency have proven invaluable. A number of graduates have been successful in gaining prestigious Fulbright Fellowships, no doubt in part due to their strong performance as majors. Recent examples include:

  • Keturah Nichols ’12, Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship (ETA), Brazil
  • Kendre Barnes ’13, Fulbright ETA, Panamá
  • Anna Paden Carson ’16, Fulbright ETA, Colombia
  • Harrison Westgarth ’17, Fulbright Research Fellowship, Brazil
  • John Dannehl ’17, Fulbright ETA, Spain
  • Jared Shely ’18, Fulbright ETA, Colombia
  • Caroline Rivers ’20, Fulbright ETA, Mexico

Mohamad Kamara

Department Head

Alex Williams

Administrative Assistant

News


W&L’s Tess Deyerle ’24 Selected for Teaching Assistant Program in France

Deyerle will teach English to French public school students before pursuing a career in special education.

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W&L’s Kathleen Roberts ’24 Earns Spot Among LIME Scholars

Roberts will pursue her doctorate at Southern Methodist University through the selective leadership program.

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Ben Bankston '25

Leading By Example

Ben Bankston ’25 is finding opportunities at W&L to challenge himself in and out of the classroom.

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Jay Margalus tackes his Design Thinking class for a site visit at the Virginia Innovation Accelerator.

CBL Faculty Collaborative Generates New Community Connections

The 2023-2024 academic year at W&L saw the proliferation of several new course offerings for students through a new faculty development initiative offered by the Office of Community-Based Learning (CBL).

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W&L’s Anna Bosking ’24 Awarded Fulbright to Colombia

Bosking has been awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to teach English in Colombia.

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W&L’s Gillian Holloway ’24 Earns Fulbright to Spain

Holloway was selected for a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to teach English in Spain.

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Washington and Lee Names Four Faculty Members to Endowed Professorships

These faculty have been recognized for their outstanding teaching, scholarship and service to the university.

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Meet Emma Conover ’24

Leading Campus Kitchen, a student-run organization focused on addressing food insecurity, has been a rewarding experience.

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W&L’s Kristina Roney Receives Fulbright U.S. Scholar Award

The assistant professor of French will utilize the scholarship to perform research in Paris.

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Pablo Abufom to Deliver Lecture on Latin American Politics

The Chilean activist’s talk will be held Feb. 12 at 5 p.m.

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W&L French Professor Publishes New Book

Mohamed Kamara’s book titled “Colonial Legacies in Francophone African Literature” hits bookshelves Dec. 15.

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Seth Michelson

W&L’s Seth Michelson Quoted in NPR Segment About a Film Documentary

The Spanish professor appears as a faculty expert in the film that debuted at the Virginia Film Festival last month.

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Sample Courses

At W&L, we believe education and experience go hand-in-hand. You’ll be encouraged to dive in, explore and discover connections that will broaden your perspective.

SPAN 211

Spanish Civilization & Culture

A survey of significant developments in Spanish civilization. The course addresses Spanish heritage and the present-day cultural patterns formed by its legacies. Readings, discussions and papers, primarily in Spanish, allow for further development of communication skills.

PORT 113

Accelerated Elementary Portuguese

An accelerated course in elementary Portuguese emphasizing grammar and the skills of speaking, writing, reading and listening comprehension.

FREN 280

Civilisation et Culture Francophones

A study of significant aspects of culture and civilization in francophone countries. Topics may include: contemporary Africa, pre-colonial Africa, West Indian history and culture, and Canadian contemporary issues. Readings, discussion and papers in French allow for further development of communication skills.

FREN 283

Histoire des Idées

This course retraces the evolution of thought in France across centuries through the examination of intellectual, cultural and artistic movements. Readings, discussions and papers in French allow for further development of communication skills.

ITAL 163

Accelerated Intermediate Italian

This course develops intermediate communicative Italian vocabulary and active intermediate competence in the language. The traditional skills of world-language instruction (structure, listening comprehension, reading, writing and speaking) are stressed.

ITAL 295A

Topics in Italian Culture

A panorama of issues and debates of contemporary Italy. All material is introduced and examined through the lens of film, media and contemporary literature, and students have ample opportunity to improve their listening and speaking skills through discussion of texts, films and media clips. Topics include immigration, university life, women and gender, work and unemployment, gastronomy, travel and history. An important goal of this course is also to review and develop grammar and vocabulary. Students practice targeted linguistic forms through the context of contemporary Italian culture and society. All classes, discussions, homework and projects are conducted entirely in Italian.

Meet the Faculty

At W&L, students enjoy small classes and close relationships with professors who educate and nurture.

Mohamed Kamara
Mohamed Kamara

Mohamed Kamara

Department Chair and Professor of Romance Languages; Campus Muslim Student Advisor

Professor Kamara holds degrees in French, English and Secondary Education. He teaches French courses in the Department of Romance Languages and also teaches in the university’s Africana Studies Program. As faculty advisor to campus Muslim students and the W&L African Society, he is a member of the Religious Staff in the Office of Inclusion and Engagement.

Matthew Bailey
Matthew Bailey

Matthew Bailey

Professor of Romance Languages

Bailey teaches Spanish language, culture and literature. His research interests include medieval Spanish literature and culture, and more specifically, medieval epic narrative.

Curriculum Vitae

Jeff Barnett
Jeff Barnett

Jeff Barnett

S. Blount Mason Jr. Professor of Spanish

Barnett teaches courses in Spanish language, translation, and Spanish-American literature and culture. His research deals with modern Latin American narrative and cultural studies as well as literary translation.

Mónica Botta
Mónica Botta

Mónica Botta

Professor of Spanish

Botta teaches courses in Latin American Theater, literature and culture. She has researched Latin American culture with an emphasis on post-dictatorship periods.

Patricia Hardin
Patricia Hardin

Patricia Hardin

Adjunct Instructor of Italian; Visiting Instructor of German

James R. Leva
James R. Leva

James R. Leva

Visiting Assistant Professor of French

Ellen Mayock
Ellen Mayock

Ellen Mayock

Ernest Williams II Professor of Spanish

At Washington and Lee, Mayock has taught courses in Spanish, Latin American and Caribbean Studies, and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Her research focuses on gender and its intersections in literature and film, feminist theories and practice, and representations of conflict and violence. Mayock also writes poetry and creative nonfiction.

Stephen P. McCormick
Stephen P. McCormick

Stephen P. McCormick

Medieval and Renaissance Studies; Associate Professor of French and Italian

McCormick heads W&L's Medieval and Renaissance Studies Program and teaches courses on French language and culture. He also supervises the French study abroad program. He has researched old French epic and medieval/early modern Italian cartography.

Seth Michelson
Seth Michelson

Seth Michelson

Associate Professor of Spanish; Program Head, Latin American and Caribbean Studies

Michelson teaches the poetry of the hemispheric Americas, as well as a diversity of courses on the literatures, cultures and languages of the region. His research focuses on poetry and state violence, and he is the author of numerous book chapters, articles and essays on the subject, among others.

Aroldo Nery Mora
Aroldo Nery Mora

Aroldo Nery Mora

Visiting Assistant Professor of Spanish

Jayne Reino
Jayne Reino

Jayne Reino

Visiting Assistant Professor of Spanish

Reino teaches Spanish language courses and is a faculty liaison for Community-Based Learning. Her research in contemporary Latin American literatures and cultures explores portrayals of gender and identity in historically marginalized figures in the U.S./Mexican border region.

Antonio Reyes
Antonio Reyes

Antonio Reyes

Associate Professor of Spanish

Reyes teaches courses on Political Discourse and Language Ideology, as well as a spring course in his native Cádiz, Spain. He has published a monograph: Voice in Political Discourse.

Kristina Roney
Kristina Roney

Kristina Roney

Assistant Professor of French

Katia Yoza
Katia Yoza

Katia Yoza

Visiting Assistant Professor of Spanish

Matthew Bailey
Jeff Barnett
Mónica Botta
Patricia Hardin
James R. Leva
Ellen Mayock
Stephen P. McCormick
Seth Michelson
Aroldo Nery Mora
Jayne Reino
Antonio Reyes
Kristina Roney
Katia Yoza
Mohamed Kamara