Interview with Brittany Olinkiewicz

“I went to a lot of plays during my semester abroad in Madrid, and that’s where I first saw a play by José Luis Alonso de Santos. When I came back to Bennington, I chose a scene from three plays that exemplify the themes I’m interested in and directed them in the original Spanish. I want to know, if you’re performing in a language that isn’t your audience’s primary language, how does that affect the acting?”

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Tanya Schmid ’11

While on study abroad in northern Chile, “we went to listen to a presentation by an NGO fighting against arsenic and lead contamination in their neighborhood. It was then and there that I realized I had found the project that had been awaiting me. Two weeks later I was in the neighborhoods and working with the NGO once again, this time with my camera, notebook, a bit of fear, and an open mind, beginning a project that would prove to be one of the most incredible, challenging, and rewarding experiences of my life.“

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Courses | Faculty | Study Abroad | Kansai Gaidai University Exchange/Asian Studies Programs

In other words.

Chinese. French. Italian. Japanese. Spanish.

At Bennington, language classes are shaped around ideas and cultural backdrops that provide context and meaning, deepening your understanding of language and expanding your capacity to communicate. Our curriculum, experienced through small seminars that privilege active participation, recognizes the importance of critical, disciplined thought together with linguistic proficiency at all levels of instruction. 

The faculty’s areas of expertise include 17th-century French literature, 20th- and 21st-century Italian fiction, modern Latin American politics, Japanese folklore, Ikebana and Japanese aesthetics, the evolution of French film, 20th- and 21st-century Spanish film, Taoist and Buddhist thought, Chinese contemporary social issues, identity studies, narratology, travel, paratext, creative writing, history, the history of art, trauma, memory, gender studies, autobiography, memoir, critical theory, cuisine, translation, pedagogy, and applied linguistics. In exploring these areas, you learn to speak another language, understand another culture from its own perspective, and experience ways of thinking that not only challenge your viewpoint, but also your means of perception.

Learning languages often means integrating work from other disciplines, drawing on the faculty’s interests and your own, enriching classroom discussions, and shaping advanced work. Students who center their work on a language are also encouraged to spend the College’s annual Field Work Term in an appropriate country, or to study abroad.

In addition to serving as the primary source of language study at the College, Bennington’s Isabelle Kaplan Center for Languages and Cultures offers graduate education in French and Spanish for those interested in advancing language education in schools as a vehicle for thought, insight, and understanding.