At Bennington, students work closely with faculty to design the content, structure, and sequence of their study and practice—their Plan—taking advantage of resources inside and outside the classroom to pursue their work.
Sin claridad no hay voz de sabiduría.
Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz (1651–1695)
Our approach to teaching Spanish at Bennington is unlike those of most programs across the United States. We teach language by engaging with a student's intellectual identity. The faculty design courses knowing that students have more fulfilling experiences with texts, materials, and spoken language when they have a rich context for doing so, and when they are actively engaged in the process. Each Spanish class at Bennington College is organized around a single culturally relevant concept, literary figure or movement, political period, artistic medium, or genre.
We invite students, even those in introductory levels, to spend the entire semester engaged with a main idea or topic, analyzing artifacts from the culture(s) studied in order to anchor their understanding, and to challenge pre-existing perspectives and perceptions. For example, in an introductory Spanish course, students are asked to make sense of how Latin America sees itself in relationship to the world through a painting by Joaquín Torres García. Students in this first-term Spanish class hypothesize about politics and power relations while searching for ways to communicate complex ideas using basic language skills. Throughout the first-year program, beginners use Spanish to look closely at cultural practices through painting and films to reconsider national identities and stereotypes.
In natural progression, intermediate‐level courses focus on specific literary genres, artistic mediums, or political concepts. Advanced students examine literature, critical theory, and theatre in depth. At all levels, small seminars focus students' energy on close reading, challenging questions, and lively discussion.
To enrich students’ exploration, artists, writers, and scholars regularly visit campus and participate in classes. Faculty and students collaborate to organize extra-curricular activities. Students are encouraged to pursue Field Work Term opportunities, study abroad, and to serve in local schools and communities.
A scholar of contemporary Spanish fiction, Sarah D. Harris's research and teaching interests include sequential art, twentieth and twenty-first century Peninsular film, trauma, collective memory and forgetting, migration, monstrosity, and gender and identity studies.
Jonathan Pitcher is a scholar of Latin American literature, philosophy, and history whose research interests exceed any one discipline: identity, exile, film, politics, travel, art, architectural ideology, puppetry, and the aftermath of the Boom, to name a few.