About the Department

Welcome to the Department of Spanish and Portuguese!

Our department blends a community of scholars, whose strong research interests range across Spanish, Latin American and Brazilian literatures and cultures, and a community of instructors, who are dedicated to teaching a strong culture-based language program. Our faculty offers a rich array of courses in Spanish, Portuguese, and English in an effort to serve not only majors and minors but also a variety of students from Weinberg College and other schools who may take only one or two classes.

Our goal is to convey a liberating variety of approaches to learning, a wide sweep of content, and a broad range of texts so that students may gain a thorough understanding of the languages, the literatures, and the cultures of the Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking worlds. We believe that it is essential to understand contemporary novels by reading Cervantes, modern poetry by appreciating Paz, and today’s film by watching Salles. And we believe that with command of Spanish and Portuguese, two of the most commonly spoken languages on Earth, our students are well prepared for the world of the 21st century.

Our students have the opportunity to develop their language studies within a comprehensive and integrated approach that reflects the relevance of Spanish and Portuguese languages in the sweep of global cultures, the influence of writers in the intellectual tradition, as well as the vibrancy of the large, multicultural, Chicago community in particular. Courses in language encourage students to cultivate a keen sense of the connection between Spanish and Portuguese and the cultures in which these languages flourish. Learning Spanish and Portuguese in this way, in turn, leads to courses in literature and culture that are designed to allow our faculty to work closely with students. In these mentoring relationships, students learn to appreciate broad processes of literary and cultural development, literary theory, and aesthetics as well as improve their analytic reading and writing skills. Our productive faculty is drawn from diverse cultural and intellectual backgrounds; they draw on this diversity to create an exciting mix of teaching models and research programs.

This special blend of people and programs makes our faculty one of the most adventuresome in the College. On campus, members participate in the Comparative Literature Studies Program, the Crown Family Center for Jewish Studies, the Early Modern Cultures Group, the Gender Studies Program, the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Program, the Latina/o Studies Program, and the Kaplan Institute for the Humanities. Outside Evanston, they present their work and pursue their research in places as widely scattered as Barcelona, Madrid, Mexico City, Caracas, Buenos Aires, and Lima. Yet, after spanning half the globe, they always return to Northwestern University to enrich the lives of students and colleagues.

Please contact us with questions you may have. Explore our website and see the many events and opportunities our department offers: Tertulias, Conversation, Tutoring, Film Series, Writing Center, Visiting Lecturer Series, Colloquiums, Study Abroad, and other programs.