- Degree Type Bachelor of Arts
- Department Romance Languages
- Academic Division The College
- Offerings Major
Spanish majors focus on learning to speak Spanish fluently, to understand language more fully through the analytical tools of linguistics, to explore the history and culture of Spanish-speakers through coursework and study abroad, and to gain expertise in literary analysis and appreciation by reading and analyzing texts produced by Spanish speakers across many cultures and over many centuries.
Why Study Spanish at W&L?
A strong foundation in Spanish is a powerful complement to any profession, while coursework in Spanish-language literature, culture and linguistics, with an emphasis on reading, writing, speaking and analyzing a second language, prepares students for success in post-graduate study in Spanish as well as many other academic fields.
Completing the World Language FDR
One of the Foundation and Distribution Requirements at Washington and Lee is proficiency in a world language. The Department of Romance Languages offers coursework towards language proficiency to fulfill this requirement.
Opportunities for Students
An extended study abroad experience sets students on the road to linguistic and cultural fluency and is strongly encouraged by our faculty.
In Lexington, students are encouraged to live in Casa Hispánica, a university theme house for speakers of Spanish. Students in Spanish are also involved in the English for Speakers of Other Languages Program (ESOL), which facilitates communication within the increasingly diverse population of Rockbridge County. Other opportunities for Spanish students include the annual Romance Languages Poetry Night and the Spanish-language literary magazine, PLUMA. A native Spanish-language teaching assistant conducts twice-weekly conversation tables in the university dining hall, regular office hours, and weekly conversation-based cultural activities open to all students at Casa Hispánica.
Students may participate in the 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.
Spanish 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 won Fulbright fellowships.
The Spanish professor appears as a faculty expert in the film that debuted at the Virginia Film Festival last month.
The show will be on display in Wilson Hall’s Lykes Atrium in conjunction with Esteban Ramón Pérez’s solo exhibition “Distorted Myths,” which will be on view in the Staniar Gallery Oct. 10 through Nov. 2.
Fugate will use her graduate research fellowship from the National Science Foundation to study the migration patterns of bison in Yellowstone National Park.
Addison has received a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Uruguay, where she will teach English to primary or secondary school students and serve as a cultural ambassador for the United States.
The Instituto Cervantes invited Professor Mayock to Spain to speak at the inaugural event for the Centenary Celebration of Carmen Laforet in March 2022.
Professor Cristina Pinto-Bailey recently published an essay on Black Brazilian feminisms and translated four pieces by Afro-Brazilian writers.
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.
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, provide an opportunity for further development of communication skills.
Contemporary Spain in Context
This course examines contemporary social issues in Spain through lectures and interviews with local subjects in Spain. Lectures provide a formal understanding of contemporary Spanish society, while interviews of local subjects provide data for further analysis by the students that may challenge, complement or further develop their understanding of current social issues.
Foundations of Spanish Civilization
Travel to Seville, Spain, to focus on the medieval and Renaissance periods, from the troubled co-existence of Muslims, Jews and Christians to the Christian reconquest and subsequent Empire. Significant cultural currents are examined through texts (literary, historical and religious), direct contact with art and architecture through site visits, and with hands-on exposure to early and contemporary cuisine. Students live in homestays, attend daily classes, participate in site visits, and engage with the local culture independently and through planned activities.
Power & Ideology
This course explores different theoretical approaches to account for the relationship of language and power, and therefore the relationship between language use and social processes. In particular, it observes how meaning is constructed and reconstructed in discourse, especially by the dominant classes with access to public discourse: politicians, academics, journalists, etc., whose messages generally reach and influence large audiences. For this reason, political discourse is an important source of data to observe how social actors employ specific linguistic choices to achieve political goals.
El Cid in History & Legend
A study of the most significant portrayals of the Castilian warrior Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar, El Cid (1045–1099), from his 12th-century biography Historia Roderici to the Hollywood blockbuster El Cid. Epic poems, late medieval ballads, and Renaissance drama all recreate the legendary life of El Cid. This course examines the relevant narratives in an effort to determine the heroic values and attributes recreated by authors and their audiences for nearly 1,000 years.
Poetry & Power
We read Spanish-American poetry on power and violence as a way of engaging and investigating the multifaceted and layered historiographies of the region. To intensify our reading, we also “read” a diversity of complementary cultural production, including paintings, murals and music. Through these self-conscious acts of reading — that is, acts of identifying, evaluating and critiquing form as much as content — we enhance our ability to analyze and debate ways of defining power in the Americas from within, without, and in liminal zones.
Meet the Faculty
At W&L, students enjoy small classes and close relationships with professors who educate and nurture.
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.
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.
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.
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.