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Spanish

Cartagena de Indias, Colombia Cartagena de Indias, Colombia

Department Overview

Welcome to the Department of Spanish!

Spanish is the official language of 20 countries and is spoken by more than 500 million people around the world. With more than 50 million native speakers and second-language speakers, the United States now has the second largest Spanish-speaking population in the world after Mexico.

Built on a solid competence in Spanish language, the major and minor develop students’ skills in critical analysis and provide an understanding of the literatures and cultures of Spain, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Latinos in the United States.

 The Department of Spanish's curriculum is organized in three tiers:

  • Language courses: Our language courses give students ample opportunity for practice, encouraging the development of communicative proficiency and cultural competency. 
  • Introductory courses: Our writing courses enable students to move toward writing proficiency in Spanish and provide a panoramic view of the literary and cultural histories of the Hispanic world. 
  • Advanced courses and seminars explore specific trends and topics pertaining to the literatures and cultures of Spain, Mexico and Central America, South America, and the Hispanic Caribbean as well as those of Latino/a communities in the United States.

With the goal of enabling students to communicate fluently in Spanish, we base our curriculum upon a linguistic and pedagogical continuum beginning at the elementary language level and culminating in the most advanced courses and Honors seminars.

One of the strengths of the Department of Spanish lies in its scope, which is both geographical and chronological, offering courses on literatures of the 19th-, 20th- and 21st-centuries as well as that of Early Modern Spain and Colonial Latin America.

Given their interdisciplinary nature, our introductory and upper level courses are compatible with course studies in black studies, comparative literature, interpretation theory, gender and sexuality studies, and Latin American and Latino studies, among others.

The Department of Spanish provides a strong foundation for graduate studies in Spanish and Latin American literatures. Our students have been highly successful in pursuing careers in a wide range of disciplines: education, medicine, law, business, and nonprofit sectors, to name a few. 

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Attending a predominantly white institution made me realize that hearing and speaking Spanish regularly was important to my identity and thus had to be part of my college experience. The Spanish department offered a way for me to continue connected to the culture that I grew up with. I found pieces of my community and family’s history in every class—it was grounding and exciting. 

I want to specifically thank Professor Nanci Buiza and Professor Luciano Martínez for believing in my potential, challenging me to critically engage with Latin American literature and cinema, and encouraging me to go after ambitious opportunities. As a first generation college student, your mentorship has been instrumental to my success in this institution. Desde el corazón, muchas gracias. 

#swatspanish #spanishmajor #swarthmorecollege #classof2020

I will be attending law school next fall. At this point, it will most likely be at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at Arizona State University in Phoenix, although I am waiting to hear back from some other schools about the waitlist. Further ahead, I plan to pursue a career in criminal law and federal law enforcement. I'd like to extend a special thank you to Professors Buiza and Cohen for helping me through the past four years, both as mentors and advisors. I'm not sure that I have any pearls of wisdom that anyone hasn't heard before, outside of simply telling the next group of students to enjoy their time here at Swarthmore, because it goes by far too quickly. Thank you again for everything. 

#swatspanish #spanishmajor #swarthmorecollege #classof2020

Hi! I’m Sawyer Lake (Honors Religion Major & Spanish Honors Minor). 

There is something beautiful and particularly satisfying about being able to communicate in a language that isn’t one’s native tongue. The Spanish Department at Swarthmore College has equipped me to enjoy just that. 

I decided to join the Honors Program because of Professor Mark Wallace in the Religion Department. He encouraged me to not think of the Honors Program as something that I would serve, but rather to think of the Honors Program as something that would serve me. With that, he had me sold. 

I have enjoyed my time in Maria Luisa Guardiola’s class on Federico García Lorca. It has challenged me and opened my eyes to material I otherwise may not have encountered. The honors seminar has been a fantastic way to end my experience with Swarthmore’s Spanish Department, and I am thankful to have had the blessing of being surrounded by classmates and professors who have challenged me to think critically.

It’s weird that my time at Swarthmore is coming to a close because in many ways I still think of myself as a freshman; however, I’m excited to be starting the Master of Divinity program at Princeton Theological Seminary this fall. I hope to go on to complete a PhD in philosophy after and then teach at the university level. But, we’ll see! 

#swatspanish #spanishminor #swarthmorecollege #classof2020

My name is Maria Ingersoll and I am an Honors Biology major and Spanish minor with a course major in Spanish as well.  I took the honors seminar on Jorge Luis Borges my junior spring, right after returning from a semester in Mexico.  As an honors student in STEM and the humanities, I have been challenged to synthesize information from a multitude of different perspectives and to believe deeply in diversity.  I am so glad that I pushed myself to study Spanish at the collegiate level because it has fostered my sense of my latinidad.   For so much of my life, I have not been comfortable claiming Mexican-American identity as an integral part of myself.  I was ashamed at my gringa accent, the fact that I didn't start speaking Spanish until high school, and I hid behind my white cultural upbringing.  But being a part of the Spanish department, speaking my mother and grandmother's native tongue regularly, has shown me that I am who I am because of these women, and their culture is a part of my identity too.  I am proud of the confidence that the Spanish department has given me to celebrate my latina roots.  Thank you Swarthmore Spanish! 

#swatspanish #spanishatswarthmore #spanishmajorsandminors #swarthmorecollege

From Buenos Aires, Sam Jacobson (Spanish Minor, Class of 2021) talks about his study abroad experience with the CASA-Buenos Aires program lead by Harvard University.

The CASA-Buenos Aires program provides undergraduate students with the unique opportunity for full immersion in Argentine culture and the Spanish language, while receiving transfer credit to apply toward their Swarthmore degree. Students take the Pro-Seminar as well as local university courses with Argentinean students at one or more of four top local universities.

#swatspanish #spanishatswarthmore #spanishmajorminor #swarthmorecollege #casabuenosairesharvard

Attending a predominantly white institution made me realize that hearing and speaking Spanish regularly was important to my identity and thus had to be part of my college experience. The Spanish department offered a way for me to continue connected to the culture that I grew up with. I found pieces of my community and family’s history in every class—it was grounding and exciting. 

I want to specifically thank Professor Nanci Buiza and Professor Luciano Martínez for believing in my potential, challenging me to critically engage with Latin American literature and cinema, and encouraging me to go after ambitious opportunities. As a first generation college student, your mentorship has been instrumental to my success in this institution. Desde el corazón, muchas gracias. 

#swatspanish #spanishmajor #swarthmorecollege #classof2020

I will be attending law school next fall. At this point, it will most likely be at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at Arizona State University in Phoenix, although I am waiting to hear back from some other schools about the waitlist. Further ahead, I plan to pursue a career in criminal law and federal law enforcement. I'd like to extend a special thank you to Professors Buiza and Cohen for helping me through the past four years, both as mentors and advisors. I'm not sure that I have any pearls of wisdom that anyone hasn't heard before, outside of simply telling the next group of students to enjoy their time here at Swarthmore, because it goes by far too quickly. Thank you again for everything. 

#swatspanish #spanishmajor #swarthmorecollege #classof2020

Hi! I’m Sawyer Lake (Honors Religion Major & Spanish Honors Minor). 

There is something beautiful and particularly satisfying about being able to communicate in a language that isn’t one’s native tongue. The Spanish Department at Swarthmore College has equipped me to enjoy just that. 

I decided to join the Honors Program because of Professor Mark Wallace in the Religion Department. He encouraged me to not think of the Honors Program as something that I would serve, but rather to think of the Honors Program as something that would serve me. With that, he had me sold. 

I have enjoyed my time in Maria Luisa Guardiola’s class on Federico García Lorca. It has challenged me and opened my eyes to material I otherwise may not have encountered. The honors seminar has been a fantastic way to end my experience with Swarthmore’s Spanish Department, and I am thankful to have had the blessing of being surrounded by classmates and professors who have challenged me to think critically.

It’s weird that my time at Swarthmore is coming to a close because in many ways I still think of myself as a freshman; however, I’m excited to be starting the Master of Divinity program at Princeton Theological Seminary this fall. I hope to go on to complete a PhD in philosophy after and then teach at the university level. But, we’ll see! 

#swatspanish #spanishminor #swarthmorecollege #classof2020

My name is Maria Ingersoll and I am an Honors Biology major and Spanish minor with a course major in Spanish as well.  I took the honors seminar on Jorge Luis Borges my junior spring, right after returning from a semester in Mexico.  As an honors student in STEM and the humanities, I have been challenged to synthesize information from a multitude of different perspectives and to believe deeply in diversity.  I am so glad that I pushed myself to study Spanish at the collegiate level because it has fostered my sense of my latinidad.   For so much of my life, I have not been comfortable claiming Mexican-American identity as an integral part of myself.  I was ashamed at my gringa accent, the fact that I didn't start speaking Spanish until high school, and I hid behind my white cultural upbringing.  But being a part of the Spanish department, speaking my mother and grandmother's native tongue regularly, has shown me that I am who I am because of these women, and their culture is a part of my identity too.  I am proud of the confidence that the Spanish department has given me to celebrate my latina roots.  Thank you Swarthmore Spanish! 

#swatspanish #spanishatswarthmore #spanishmajorsandminors #swarthmorecollege

From Buenos Aires, Sam Jacobson (Spanish Minor, Class of 2021) talks about his study abroad experience with the CASA-Buenos Aires program lead by Harvard University.

The CASA-Buenos Aires program provides undergraduate students with the unique opportunity for full immersion in Argentine culture and the Spanish language, while receiving transfer credit to apply toward their Swarthmore degree. Students take the Pro-Seminar as well as local university courses with Argentinean students at one or more of four top local universities.

#swatspanish #spanishatswarthmore #spanishmajorminor #swarthmorecollege #casabuenosairesharvard

Spanish Advising for First-Year Students

¡Bienvenido! ¡Bienvenida! Embarking on your Swarthmore journey is an exciting process, and one that can lead to some questions. Here, you'll find resources specific to incoming first-year students planning to take courses in the Spanish Department.

 

Read more

Academic Journey Reflection

After graduating with a double major in Spanish and Engineering, Clare Cushing '20 reflects on her academic journey, the connections between her two majors and her study abroad experience.

Read more

Spanish Courses at Swarthmore

Explore the wide variety of courses the Spanish program offers, and learn more about the Spanish major and minor. More.

books on a shelf

Course and Field Trip to Spain

"Memoria e identidad", taught by Prof. María Luisa Guardiola, will focus on memory making as an identity building agent. We will study literary texts, films and other cultural artifacts to commemorate the silenced voices of the past. The course offers a 0.5 credit attachment during the last two weeks of May, with an on-site component in Spain that will complement the course material with excursions to memorialized locations such as Belchite, the Jarama battlefield or Valencia, capital of the Republic during the Civil War.   More>

Salvador Dahli's Persistence of Memory

Alumna Awarded Fulbright Grant

Congratulations to alumna Meghan Kelly ’18 for being awarded a Fulbright Grant to teach English in Spain!

Meghan Kelly is Ed.M. Candidate in International Education Policy at Harvard Graduate School of Education '19. She graduated from Swarthmore in 2018 with an Honors special major in Educational Studies and Sociology and a minor in Peace and Conflict Studies.  For more information on Meghan's reflection of how our Spanish classes at Swarthmore helped her prepare for this opportunity, click on "more."

more

Spotlights on our Recent Alumni

Some of our recent Spanish graduates explain why they chose to major in Spanish and discuss the most challenging and rewarding experiences they have had in our program.

Learn more about our recent graduates.