Strategic Foci of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese



We have identified three strategic foci that guide our teaching, research, and contributions to communities beyond the department and the university. We have chosen these areas of common interest because we believe them to be of great value to our students in the 21stcentury and also because knowledge of these areas is of increasing value for local, national and global communities.


Translating language and culture: translation as a multi-functional phenomenon and a metaphor of communication that links literary/cultural studies and linguistics with intercultural discourse analysis and notions of communicative and cultural competence in a wide range of contexts, with both theoretical and practical dimensions. We do aim to provide training in methods of literary translation to interested students, but more generally we aim to explore translatio (‘crossing from one side to another’), as a past and present practice of everyday life in the cross-cultural contacts that have characterized all communities of the Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking worlds. We are interested in the study of translation in a broad sense, as a process of communication that entails understanding and misunderstanding, negotiation, and transformation of self and others. This critical approach to the study of translation and intercultural discourse includes exploration of literary translation, practices of bilingualism and multidialectalism (e.g., Spanglish and similar phenomena as multifaceted sets of linguistic practices and as metaphors and emblems of cultural hybridity), and indigenous and African heritage communities’ negotiation of imperial language and practices of power (e.g., as manifested in the legal system).  Study abroad programs in Argentina, Brazil and Spain provide particularly rich on-site opportunities to explore and develop competence in translation and intercultural communication.
Narratives and performance of identity and citizenship: stories, histories and performances of (civic) belonging and exclusion throughout the Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking worlds, with reference to contemporary questions of local, national, and global citizenship. We are particularly interested in negotiations and remappings of the relationship of the individual and the community (understood at the local, regional, national, international, and global levels), including exploration of nested and overlapping communities and the complex identities associated with them. There are, for instance, particular flashpoints which today are drawing the attention of scholars, including today’s migratory contact zones (e.g., US Latino communities, Muslims in contemporary Spain, and other diasporic communities in Latin America) as well as historical contact zones in medieval Spain (Muslims, Jews and Christians) and colonial Latin America (e.g., past and present contact between European and indigenous communities). Community-engaged learning opens numerous opportunities to explore questions of identity and citizenship in relation to Latino/a and Lusophone communities in the Atlanta area.

Empire, colonialism, and post-coloniality: the discursive construction of empire/colony and post-independence nation-states within the Hispanic and Lusophone worlds, as well as the these worlds as they have participated in and generated discussions about the relationship between coloniality and modernity, with particular emphasis on how those discussions have emerged at different times and in various places, as well as their past and present impact. We are interested in promoting connections between domains that have been narrowly defined by chronology (e.g., early modern vs modern), geography (e.g., Spain vs Latin America; Portugal vs Brazil), discursive genre (e.g., literary vs non-literary discourse) and discipline (e.g., literary/cultural studies vs history vs anthropology vs linguistics). Again, our approach moves between and beyond these divisions to foster new lines of inquiry and teaching which are not constrained by these established divisions. A majority of courses are designed in accord with this broadly interdisciplinary perspective.