Tag Archives: library

Celebrating Native American/Indigenous and Alaska Native Heritage Month

In honor of Native American/Indigenous and Alaska Native Heritage Month, Dr. Irina Feldman’s Spanish 324 Class, Images of America, has collaborated with the Davis Family Library to develop a display including works that commemorate the many peoples belonging to these groups throughout the Americas. Visit the Davis Family Library to see the display and read more about how it all was shaped below. We thank Marlena Evans, Caleb Turner, Alaina HanksOshin Bista and all the unseen laborers and sponsors who make these projects successful.

The display in the Davis Family Library lobby will be staffed by students from the class on the evenings of November 6th, 7th and 8th to answer your questions on this theme. Plan to join us the evening of Monday, November 27th when Chief of the Abenaki Don Stevens will join the Middlebury College community for a talk on contemporary life in Vermont as a person of indigenous heritage. Also, stay tuned for Dr. Brandon Baird’s talk, “Unequivocally Authentic: Mayan Language and Identity in Modern Guatemala,” in the Carol Rifelj Lecture Series hosted by the Center for Teaching, Learning & Research on November 29th. The site go.middlebury.edu/calendar has more details.

a photo of the students in Spanish 324: Images of America

Dr. Irina Feldman (center, in scarf) and her students from the Spanish 324: Images of America class pose for a photo in their classroom. They have contributed their energy to commemorating Native American/Indigenous & Alaska Native Heritage Month and selected works for the Davis Family Library display.

Participants; Hometowns; Roles @ Midd; Times @ Midd:

Cover art from The Original Vermonters

This is the cover art used for a book titled The Original Vermonters by William A. Haviland which speaks of the Abenaki Indians, groups of indigenous peoples residing in what we now know as various parts of New England and Canada. Chief of the local Abenaki, Don Stevens, will visit Middlebury College on November 27th to speak to the community. Follow go.middlebury.edu/calendar for more information.

Katrina Spencer; Los Angeles, California; Literatures & Cultures Librarian; 9 months
Irina Feldman; Saint Petersburg, Russia (Leningrad, USSR); Assistant Professor of Spanish; 8 years
Peter Thewissen; Kent, Ohio; International Politics & Economics Major; 2 years
Rae Aaron; Phoenix, Arizona; International Politics & Economics Major; 4th semester
Pedro Miranda; Scarsdale, New York; International Politics & Economics Major; 4th semester
Rachael St. Clair; Minnetonka, Minnesota; Neuroscience Major; 4th semester
Sam Valone; Wayland, Massachusetts; Economics Major; 2nd semester
Sophie Taylor; Los Angeles, California; Museum Studies Major; 3rd semester
George Valentine; Montpelier, Vermont; Environmental Studies/Conservation Biology Major; 4th semester
Ella Dyett; Brooklyn, New York; Psychology/Spanish Major; 3rd semester
Holly Black; South Portland, Maine; Neuroscience/Spanish Major; 4th semester
Kiera Dowell; Charlotte, North Carolina; Mathematics/Spanish Major; 3rd semester
Annika Landis; Hailey, Idaho; Environmental Studies/Human Ecology 2nd year
Lesly Santos; Chicago, Illinois; Classical Studies Major; 3rd semester
Hannah Seabury; Santa Barbara, California; International and Global Studies major; 4th semester
Wynne Ebner; Chevy Chase, Maryland; History Major; 5th semester
Greg Dray; Guilford, Conneticut; Computer Science Major; 5th semester
Melisa Topic; Chicago, Illinois; Psychology/Spanish Major; 5th semester
Kyle Wright; Denver, Colorado; American Studies; 4th semester
Ellie Carr; Ainsworth, Nebraska; International and Global Studies; 5th semester

How does the course content for Spanish 324: Images of America relate to the theme of the display?

Katrina: Irina and I happened upon a happy intersection between discourses we wanted to highlight this semester. I wanted to underscore Native American/Indigenous & Alaska Native Heritage Month, which, here in the U.S., is often celebrated with a relatively closed geographical region in mind. Irina reminded me that when we talk about indigeneity in the Western hemisphere, it absolutely makes sense to include the regions we now know as Canada, Mexico, Central and South America and the Caribbean. The Abenaki, the Mohawk, the Sioux, the Cherokee, the Inuit, the Aztecs, the Maya, the Nahua, the K’iche’, the Aymara, the Tupi, the Guaraní, the Taíno, the Arawak and many, many more groups share historical experience that cannot be seamlessly divorced by the imagined borders we have applied to modern-day regions.

A map of the Americas indicating where varying amounts of indigenous populations currently reside contemporarily.

A map borrowed from the Wikipedia entry for “Indigenous Peoples of the Americas” depicting indigenous populations from what we know today as Greenland to Argentina with the land masses darkened in gradients to show indigenous population density. Guatemala, Peru and Bolivia are the most heavily shaded with 40-45% of the populations labeled as indigenous.

Pedro/Sophie/Hannah: In Images of America, we explore how America has been represented by writers and artists from both colonial and indigenous perspectives. We seek to study how the continent was imagined from different points of view, and how these perspectives shaped (and still shape) the culture and identity of America. We strive to challenge our stereotypes and associations of the word “indigenous” through our course material and readings, and explore both sides of the narrative in a world where most of history is written by colonizers. Our goal of constructing this display in the Davis Family Library, as well as inviting Chief of the Abenaki, Don Stevens, to speak at Middlebury, is to educate the Middlebury student body on the themes we have learned from our class, especially the historical oppression and misrepresentation of the indigenous American experience.

How did you contribute to this display?

Katrina: My job was to tell the students in the class what has worked for me in the past inasmuch as shaping displays, to be open, and to direct the team to good contacts to help carry out the necessary work. My supervisor, Carrie Macfarlane, models this for me all the time. I wanted students to be realistic about timelines, conscientious about scope, but most of all, confident in their ability to carry a significant project forward. I lent advice in steering but they did most of the hard work.

Rae/Wynne: As students in Images of America, our professor and library were our resources to compile documents and materials ranging from audio and film to novels and children’s books. We pulled books from Davis Family Library and ordered others online which we identified as offering an unique perspective or valuable information. Each student contributed at least two sources that they deemed relevant and useful contributions to conversations surrounding indigenous groups in America. We then organized our sources based on geographical origins and collaborated with our peers to create a bookshelf display with visuals that offer the greater Middlebury community access to Indigenous history and culture. We hope this display will give the community the tools to recognize the importance of Native American heritage and celebrate its many elements at Middlebury.

A screenshot from a digital library resource, Indigenous Peoples: North America

This screenshot depicts the homepage of Indigenous Peoples: North America, a digital archive in the libraries’ collection rich in primary sources. To find it, visit go.middlebury.edu/databases and search entries under the letter “I” for “Indigenous.”

Describe some of the limitations the class encountered in shaping this collaborative effort.

Irina: The biggest limitation is, of course, the absence of the first-hand indigenous voices. When working on our sources and on analyzing the class materials, what we often find is a European writer talking about the indigenous experience (such as Columbus or Padre [Bartolomé de] Las Casas), or an anthropologist translating the indigenous voice for a wider public. As a class, we are scholars of indigenous experience of Latin America, but none of us is indigenous. The students have been brainstorming on how to compensate for this always-mediated condition of indigenous testimony, and I will let them speak about the solutions they found to this limitation.

George/Annika/Ella: Given that so much of the available literature on the subject is narrated from the European point of view, our challenge was to bring some of the less common indigenous viewpoints to the forefront. The first and best way to do this, we agreed, was to allow them to speak for themselves. That’s why we have invited Chief Don Stevens of the Nulhegan Abenaki to give a talk about his tribe’s history to members of the college. Another limitation we encountered was developing this project and all that we wish to accomplish within such a short time frame.

How can we learn more about the local group called the Abenaki?

A screenshot from the Vermont Abenaki Artists' Association website

This screenshot comes from the Vermont Abenaki Artists’ Association’s website .

A screenshot of the Nulhegan Band Coosuk-Abenaki emblem/coat of arms

This image comes from the Nulhegan Abenaki tribe website where various community events are listed.

Holly/Peter: There are many resources available both online and around Vermont that we can use to further our knowledge of the Abenaki people. For example, the Vermont Abenaki Artists’ Association works to both preserve traditional Abenaki art and to create contemporary artistic expressions of their culture. This group travels around the US and Canada, and even Germany, to give demonstrations that share the presence of Abenaki culture. Their website can be found here at www.abenakiart.org. In addition to this site, the Abenaki Tribe at Nulhegan-Memphremagog maintains a separate website at www.abenakitribe.org with information about the history and current state of the Tribe, as well as links to other sources of information on the web. We encourage anyone who is interested in the Abenaki to visit these resources, or better yet attend the talk by Don Stevens, Chief of the Abenaki, to learn about the tribe firsthand.

Katrina:  The cover art near the top of this post for The Original Vermonters is an invaluable text with highly accessible writing. To educate ourselves on the Abenaki, the entire class received scanned copies of chapters 5 and 7, respectively “At The Dawn of Recorded History” and “Survival and Renewal: The Last Two Hundred Years.” Moreover, the Ethnic Studies Research Guide offers a variety of entry points for studying indigenous peoples. Librarian Brenda Ellis, liaison to the history department, has also highlighted the U.S. History Research Guide, also rich in resources for research purposes.

What did you learn about other indigenous populations in the Western hemisphere?

Holly/Peter/Rachel/Sam: Many indigenous populations understand society as operating in a state of relatedness whereas typical Western culture believes in compartmentalization and individualism. The environment, objects, and people are closely linked, and this connection is reinforced by law, kinship, and spirituality. This is a holistic and fluid way to observe society; connections supersede categories and pressure is relieved from one single object or person to perform a specific, isolated role. In this manner, indigenous populations view nature as an economic system that governs society. However, this form of society is threatened when it comes into contact with modern, capitalist societies. Governments are increasingly focusing their attention on economic development and modernization, taking precedent over indigenous autonomy and culture.

Katrina: There are two major points. First, I read University of Illinois professor Debbie Reese’s “American Indians Are Not “People of Color,” which blew my mind. It is succinct and makes it clear that many of the groups we’re celebrating belong to sovereign nations which makes their political groupings different from those of African Americans, Asian Americans and Latinx Americans. Second, additional readings reinforced the idea of indigenous people being intimately tied to the land and the goods it produces, which underscored the importance of land rights and the disastrous impact that historical relocations to reservations have had on communities and ways of life.

Cover art from the the book entitled 1491 by Charles C. Mann

Depicted is the cover art for the book 1491 by Charles C. Mann that describes cultures and society in what we now know as the “Americas” preceding Christopher Columbus’ arrival. Find it through MIDCAT in the Davis Family Library collection.

What specific resources did you find that you feel others should know about related to these topics?

Katrina: 1491 and its sequel 1493 are historical works with deftly compelling titles. Essentially, they pose the questions, “What was life, culture and society like in the Western hemisphere before Christopher Columbus’ arrival and how was it indelibly impacted thereafter?”

Melisa/Mimi/Greg: The Arts of the North American Indian: Native Traditions in Evolution is an excellent book for understanding the roots and development of various art forms utilized by Native Americans. It is especially interesting to look at the impact of those art forms on contemporary art practiced today. Another resource, My Home As I Remember, is a collaboration of over 60 Native American female authors, poets, and visual artists where they tell their respective stories of home and origin. Not only does this book bring together native women from all over the world but it also provides a resource for others to learn about different native cultures and traditions.

What do you hope the Middlebury community will gain from these efforts?

Cover art to The Arts of the North American Indian edited by Edwin L. Wade

Depicted is the cover art for The Arts of the North American Indian, edited by Edwin L. Wade. Find it through MIDCAT in the Davis Family Library collection.

Kiera: With issues such as cultural appropriation for costume parties, problematic mascots, and even the celebration of Columbus Day still widely prevalent in our society, the humanization and normalization of indigenous peoples through exposure to indigenous culture could go a long way to increase awareness of how these issues directly affect the perception of indigenous people in our society, as it is much more difficult to intentionally disregard the feelings and opinions of people with whom you feel connected. At Middlebury in particular, where the large majority of students are white, the issues facing people of color in general (and indigenous Americans in particular) are regularly addressed but not fully understood by the majority of the population, and hopefully the increase of education surrounding a variety of issues facing the indigenous and POC (people of color) would allow white students, and thus the Middlebury community as a whole, to be more empathetic with people against whom our society is prejudiced.

Katrina: As a society, we err when we think of the default prototype for an American as a white, Christian, able-bodied, heterosexual, cisnormative male. For the rest of our lives, I want us to aggressively challenge that notion that exists in our collective imaginary. Remembering the past and the violent ways in which this country was born aids that trajectory and helps us to acknowledge the legacies of the past and our responsibilities in the present.

Cover art to My Home As I Remember, edited by Lee Maracle and Sandra Laronde

Depicted is the cover art to My Home As I Remember, edited by Lee Maracle and Sandra Laronde. Find the e-book through MIDCAT in the Davis Family Library collection.

Kyle: Because Native people and first nations have historically been excluded from conversations of racial, socioeconomic, and disability justice, it is particularly important to emphasize the histories, experiences, and cultures of those people to increase representation in spaces, like Middlebury, that have historically spotlighted the experiences of white, wealthy, able-bodied, cis-hetero men. This work may help to generate a greater degree of discourse at Middlebury surrounding how certain people are systematically excluded and marginalized along lines of identity on and off our campus.

Lesly: With a population that consists of mostly [North] Americans, Middlebury could use this program to raise awareness of this group of people that has been separated from its land and marginalized from social recognition. In this aspect, it is important for people to remember the original inhabitants of this land and its history, especially in our modern-day politics. The cultural wisdom and social components that the Native American people possess could aid philosophical growth and recognition of the culture that lives within us that hardly anyone speaks about. This may also be something that can support mindfulness for inclusivity and respect towards different cultures/people.

Latin Poetry (Trial through Nov. 11)

Until November 11th, Middlebury faculty, students, and staff have free access to Oxford Scholarly Editions – Latin Poetry. (To find content, search or browse and then limit to Middlebury’s access as shown in the screenshot at the bottom of this post.)

This access includes the use of the Oxford Latin Dictionary widget. If you come across a word or phrase you are not familiar with, highlight it and a menu appears:

Choose Oxford Latin Dictionary and see the results!

Try it out and let us know what you think. Email eaccess-admin@middlebury.edu or contact your liaison.

 

Screenshot showing texts limited to Middlebury:

Celebrating Hispanic American/Latinx Heritage Month

From September 15th thru October 15th, the United States celebrates Hispanic American / Latinx Heritage Month. Read below to find out how some of the people at Midd engage with these identities. Also come by the Davis Family Library September 18th-29th to see the display. Many sincere thanks to Marlena Evans :) for her committed work in developing banner designs.

Names of Respondents; Hometowns; Roles on Campus:

Zarai Zaragoza, a Mexican American Middlebury College senior and studio art major sits in front of colorful art pieces.

Zarai Zaragoza, a Mexican American Middlebury College senior and studio art major sits in front of colorful art pieces.

ZZ: Zarai Zaragoza; Chicago, Illinois; Studio Art Major with Education Studies Minor – Part of Alianza, WOC [Women of Color], DMC [Distinguished Men of Color], Anderson Freeman Center Fellow, and so much more.

MRM: Marcos Rohena-Madrazo; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Assistant Professor of Spanish / Linguistics.

KS: Katrina Spencer; Los Angeles, California; Literatures & Cultures Librarian.

XM: Ximena Mejía; Salisbury, Vermont; Middlebury College Counseling Director.

Time at Midd:

Middlebury College Assistant Professor of Spanish and Linguistics Marcos Rohena-Madrazo, born and raised in Puerto Rico, poses for a photo at the Davis Family Library Research Desk.

Middlebury College Assistant Professor of Spanish and Linguistics Marcos Rohena-Madrazo, born and raised in Puerto Rico, poses for a photo at the Davis Family Library Research Desk.

ZZ: 3 years, going on the 4th.

MRM: 6 years.

KS: 7.5 months.

XM: 9 years.

What do you know about Hispanic American/Latinx Heritage Month?

ZZ: Hispanic Heritage month celebrates the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America. It is a time to show the love one has for their culture, traditions, and the many identities that make up the Hispanic community.

MRM: I don’t know a lot about the month, per se, but I know that it’s important in the United States context and I’ve been learning more about it since I’ve lived “here” [on the mainland and not the island of Puerto Rico]. When I was living in Puerto Rico, there wasn’t a need to actively identify with either of those labels. Only recently have I started to engage with them.

Literatures and Cultures Librarian Katrina Spencer, whose father is Afro-Costa Rican, poses in her office while preparing books for the Hispanic American/Latinx Heritage Month display.

Literatures and Cultures Librarian Katrina Spencer, whose father is Afro-Costa Rican, poses in her office while preparing books for the Hispanic American/Latinx Heritage Month display.

KS: Unlike many other commemorative months, this one starts in the middle of September and ends in the middle of October. These dates were chosen in remembrance of a variety of Latin American countries winning their independence from colonial powers.

XM: It commemorates the diversity of the identities that encompass “Hispanic” and Latinx.

How do you pronounce “Latinx” and what does it mean?

MRM: In English, [lə.ˈthi.ˌnɛks]. In Spanish, I’m not sure because grammatical gender is much more complex. I’m still figuring it out. For me, it means a person of Latin American descent in/from a U.S. context.

KS: La-teen-x. Three syllables. You pronounce the “x” just like the letter “x.” To my understanding, the “x” is meant to draw attention away from gender specificity. In Spanish, grammatically speaking, the default term is “Latino,” an adjective that inherently prioritizes the masculine and invisibilizes the feminine. The “x” is an attempt to acknowledge the ways in which language, depending upon how we use it, can be inclusive or exclusive.

XM: Well said Katrina! Breaking down the gender binary.

Middlebury College Counseling Director Ximena Mejía, of Ecuadoran and European ancestry, poses for a photo.

ZZ: Laa-Tee-Nex. I love the way Katrina describes it. It is meant to be more inclusive since the Spanish language is structured to be more gendered.

How do you identify ethnically?

ZZ: Both of my parents are from Guerrero, Mexico. I was born in the U.S, but am very connected to the traditions of my cultural. I am Mexican-American → Latina.

MRM: Puerto Rican. If there is one identity that I can unproblematically claim, it is Puerto Rican. Where were my ancestors “from”? On my mom’s side from Cantabria and Mallorca and on my dad’s side general Caribbean Afro-Euro combo.

KS: My mother is African American and Creole; my father is Afro-Costa Rican. So. . . I’m black. ;) With some cultural, historical and social connections to both Central America and the Caribbean, broadly defined. Not one of these, however, for me, is an “ethnicity.” (Or are they?)

A map depicting the many departures from the African continent and arrivals to the "New World." The image is taken from David Eltis' Atlas of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, on display now in the Davis Family Library. See the circular information desk.

A map depicting the many departures from the African continent and arrivals to the “New World.” The image is taken from David Eltis’ Atlas of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, on display now in the Davis Family Library. See the circular information desk.

XM: Multiethnic / Mestiza a combination of North Ecuadorean indigenous people and European (German and French from maternal side and Spanish from paternal side).

Why is it important to have a display to commemorate this month?

ZZ: It’s a beautiful thing to take pride in your culture, your family’s culture, and how these traditions, stories, and art impact your interests and your sense of self. It’s very important to give identities that are sometimes overlooked, ignored, or marginalized, some space of confidence, openness, and growth. Speaking from experience, it is not always easy to take pride in one’s apparent (sometimes not apparent) identity, and it can often be thrown in your face that you’re different. I am hoping that this display will show differences but will shine it in a positive, wholesome light.

The cover of Pulitzer Prize winning author Junot Díaz's 2012 book This Is How You Lose Her is depicted here. His work regularly engages what it means to be both Dominican and American.

The cover of Pulitzer Prize winning author Junot Díaz’s 2012 book This Is How You Lose Her is depicted here. His work regularly engages what it means to be both Dominican and American.

MRM: It’s important in order to counter hegemonic discourses of who the people living in the United States are.

KS: I want more students of diverse and non-dominant/non-hegemonic backgrounds to know what materials we have in our collections that mirror their experiences, lives, and struggles. If we don’t highlight them, they may never know that they’re there. The library is theirs, too.

XM: Make visible to our larger community that there are students, faculty and staff who identify with this heritage.

What are some of the challenges in preparing a display such as this?

ZZ: Often times there can be an misrepresentation of a group of people. What I hope this display will do is bring together a true, multifaceted array of stories, backgrounds, and talents that make up the Hispanic community at Midd.

MRM: Choosing who and what to represent. It’s by no means a unified and easily portrayable group.

KS: “Who is Hispanic?” “Who is Latinx?” “Who is not?” For example, do we include Brazil and Brazilians? And how? How do we include works that represent all of them? Are all my choices generational and based on what I liked growing up? Will students even recognize these items I’ve chosen?

The cover art for 2013 Venezuelan feature-length film Pelo Malo (Bad Hair) is pictured here.

The cover art for 2013 Venezuelan feature-length film Pelo Malo (Bad Hair) is pictured here.

What readings/music CDs/DVDs might you recommend that your peers check out to commemorate this month?

ZZ: Recently… Latinoamerica by Calle 13 has been my jam, my motivator, my sense of pride. Give it a listen, look at the music video if you can. Internacionales by Bomba Estereo is also a great tune!

MRM: Junot Díaz. Rita Indiana ‘cause she’s got diaspora all over the place. Daddy Yankee. That’s very Caribbean, but that’s my experience. Ooh, ooh, also Brujos — queer-of-color geekstravaganza!

KS: All things Junot Díaz. Contemporarily, he’s likely the most famous writer who represents the Hispanophone world transnationally. Also Achy Obejas, writes on themes touching the queer Latina world. I’ve been wanting to see Pelo Malo (Bad Hair) for quite some time. We have it in the library on Bluray. I believe it studies hair straightening, a practice that often favors western European features, a discourse that continues to be relevant in the Afro-Latinx world today.

XM: Music: Bomba Estereo, Los Cojolites, Gina Chavez, Perota Chingo, Calle 13, Manu Chao, Cultura Profetica, Onda Vaga.

Books: Umami by Laia Jufresa; Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera; Multiple Choice by Alejandro Zambra; Bruja by Wendy C. Ortiz; Transmigration of Bodies by Yuri Herrera; Among Strange Victims by Daniel Saldaña Paris, and more.

Anything else?

MRM: The more we talk about what “Latinx” is and what it isn’t, the more we understand ourselves and each other.

A screenshot taken from a Pero Like video of producer Julissa Calderón who often discusses her Dominican heritage in her work.

A screenshot taken from a Pero Like video of producer Julissa Calderón who often discusses her Dominican heritage in her work.

KS: There’s an Afro-Dominican actress and filmmaker, Julissa Calderón, regularly featured on Pero Like and a comedian and filmmaker who’s black and Honduran who produces content on “Callme Choko.” Aside from being hilarious dramatists, they both give greater representation to minority populations that too often go unseen.

ZZ: Thank you for providing the space… <3

If there’s a work you’re interested in seeing and feel the library should own, visit go.middlebury.edu/requests to let us know!

Phoenix Pod to replace NExpress

Former NExpress members have agreed to keep working together to provide expedited Interlibrary Loan services with the start of the Phoenix Rapid Returnables Pod.  All requests will be processed through ILLiad, but requests for materials owned and available at any of the Phoenix Pod members will be ordered automatically, delivered by UPS, and loaned for an extended period of two months (with a renewal of another month).

Submit requests in ILLiad with an ISSN or OCLC Accession number to take advantage of Rapid’s automated ordering.

100 Years And Counting!

The Spanish School, one of Middlebury’s 11 Language Schools, celebrates its 100th year. Here are a few words from current affiliated staff who have witnessed some of its evolutions.

Professor Joseph Casillas of the Spanish School (MA, Class of 2010) poses for a photo.

Names:      

JC: Joseph Casillas

LC: Laura Cabrera

KS: Katrina Spencer

Bilingual Assistant Laura Cabrera of the Spanish School is pictured here, in Middlebury gear.

Hometowns:

JC: Phoenix, Arizona

LC: Salamanca, Spain

KS: Los Angeles, California

Roles:

Middlebury’s Literatures & Cultures Librarian Katrina Spencer poses at the Research Desk in the Davis Family Library. Having obtained a master degree from the Spanish School in 2010, she now serves the school as the Language Schools’ library liaison.

JC: Professor.

LC: I’m a bilingual assistant in the Spanish School.

KS: Library liaison.

When did you first encounter the Spanish School?

JC: My first experience in Middlebury was in 2007 as an MA student in the Spanish school.

LC: I arrived to Middlebury in 1998 when I was a little girl because my dad [Carlos Cabrera] was a teacher in the Spanish School.

KS: I arrived to Middlebury in 2009 and graduated from the master program in 2010. I’d been looking for a school that would allow me to complete my degree overseas and this was one of the two I found.

Has your role always been the same?

JC: No. I spent two summers in the Spanish school finishing my MA. Afterwards I spent two consecutive summers in the French school, as a pure beginner in level 1 and the following summer in level 4. The following two years I returned to the Spanish school to work as a bilingual assistant, and the past 3 years I have worked as a professor in the undergraduate 7-week program.

LC: First I came as a dependent with my parents but since 2007 I’ve been working as a bilingual assistant at the Spanish School.

KS: No. At first I was a master student, then a non-degree seeking student in the Portuguese program and now I’m a librarian.

Over the summer, the Spanish School placed several banners in the atrium of the Davis Family Library to commemorate its centennial. This one documents its beginnings in 1917.

Tell us about the diversity of the program.

JC: The Spanish school program is rather diverse. In any given summer there are professors and students from most of the Spanish speaking countries in the world. The students are particularly diverse in many different ways. In terms of age, in my classes I have had students that just finished high school, all the way up to retirees that decided to learn Spanish for fun. But the student body at Middlebury is diverse in other ways as well. For example, I have had students that work as government agents, and other military special forces, as well as high school teachers of other languages.

LC: Faculty and staff come from different places around the world: Spain, Mexico, Cuba, United States, Argentina, Colombia, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, etc. And we have some students that are from different parts of the United States and other countries like India and China, so the Spanish School is culturally diverse.

KS: In terms of the faculty, without having to do much mental exercise at all, I know that Cuba, Mexico, Peru, Spain, and the United States are all represented. In terms of the student body, you find students aged 19-50+. That’s always something that has quite impressed me. During my first summer, we had a nun in our program and at least one student completing the doctorate of modern languages. People come to Middlebury for a wide array of reasons and from a variety of backgrounds. This year they have a lawyer who’s engaged in immigration law.

This banner reflects some of the most recent developments and cultural celebrations led by the Spanish School.

Over the years, what changes within the school and what remains the same?

JC: There are many things that stay the same. Middlebury, itself doesn’t change much. In the ten years that I have been around, the faculty hasn’t changed too much. Certain aspects of the program that we do every year typically stay the same, but every summer is unique in its own way because of the students. Sometimes there are students who repeat, and the graduate students typically spend multiple summers in the program, but the majority of the undergraduate students are new. It is always fun to see how diverse and talented they are. I’ve also seen many of the professors children grow up over the course of several summers. It truly is a unique experience.

LC: In my opinion, almost everything is the same as my first time here. Some people come back and some people don’t, but the main spirit of the “Spanish school family” is the same, summer after summer. Middlebury is like a bubble, no matter how you spent the whole year, if you go back for another summer, you’ll feel the last summer was yesterday instead of a year ago.

KS: Much of the professoriate remains the same! The Spanish School attracts and retains excellent instructors. Some have been teaching in the program more than 15 years. Mariluz Gutiérrez Araus and Mercedes Fernández-Isla are two of them. One change that I’ve noted is that program now has a website where students can follow its activities. It’s very colorful and up-to-date, reflecting the technology use of our time. Also, I believe we have a school site in Argentina now. Formerly students were able to complete a summer of study in Mexico, which I did, and now you can do it in South America. Oh, and the Literary Analysis students join together and receive a library orientation session in Spanish!

Literatures & Cultures Librarian Katrina Spencer poses with an “abanico,” a fan, designed for the centennial. Other accouterments for the 100th year celebration included buttons and “pañuelos,” scarves or handkerchiefs, all marked with the letter “ñ“.

How do you and your community within the Language Schools use the libraries and our resources?

JC: I used the library much more for research as an MA student. Since then, I mainly use the library for preparing classes and meeting with students.

LC: As an office manager at the Spanish School, I don’t use the library so often. We usually borrow some films to show and some tech devices we need for the events. I think the students use the library more often, like a studying place and using the resources: books, movies, etc.

KS: When I was a student, we graduate students used JSTOR quite heavily to find academic articles of literary criticism. This database is still popular among Language School students in general. The Spanish-language browsing collection that includes readings like Manolito Gafotas and music by flamenco-style singer Buika is also popular. In the instruction sessions I give, I really try to plug Lexis Nexis for finding news articles,  Kanopy for online film streaming and our Alexander Street vendor for listening to music online. There are also special carrels/study spaces in the library assigned to each language school.

What do you envision for the Spanish School’s future?

The Spanish School hosted a special dance party with live music to which all the Language Schools on the Vermont campus were invited to fete the centennial occasion.

JC: I think one of the big changes facing the program in the upcoming years is related to heritage speakers. Every summer we get more and more students with this profile, which makes sense because of the changing demographics in the US, and I hope to see explicit attention given to these students in the program’s curriculum moving forward.

LC: I don’t know what will will be the future of the Spanish School, but I’m sure it depends on the students because they are a different group every summer. So, like Joseph said, I think the heritage speakers will be a very important part of the program in the next years.

KS: Changes in the school will likely mirror changes in society, ¿no es cierto? Perhaps there will be more demand for courses representing Central America and indigenous populations as we have more people within the United States that represent that region. I imagine the school will become even more diverse as more people realize the importance of speaking Spanish merely as residents in the Western hemisphere. And I hope that more classes will request library instruction sessions so students can navigate our spaces with even greater confidence. 

 

New to the libraries – Fall 2017

The library has acquired some new resources over the last few months:

  • Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics  a systematic and comprehensive treatment of all aspects of the history and study of the Hebrew language from its earliest attested form to the present day and features advanced search options
  • Japan Times Archive Full text of every issue of this English language newspaper based in Japan that was published from 1897 through 2015
  • Digital Loeb Classical Library  Important works of ancient Greek and Latin literature, presenting the original Greek or Latin text on each left-hand page, and a fairly literal translation on the facing page.
  • American Indian Movement and Native American Radicalism, 1968—1979This collection of FBI files from 1968 to 1979 provides detailed information on the evolution of AIM as an organization of social protest and the development of Native American radicalism.
  • Federal Response to Radicalism in the 1960s Another collection from the Federal Bureau of Investigation Library, this collection sheds light on internal organization, personnel, and activities of some of the most prominent American radical groups and their movements to change American government and society. Included are files on Cesar Chavez, the Black Panther Party, and Malcolm X, among many others.
  • FIAF international index to film periodicals This database contains the International Federation of Film Archives (FIAF)’s “Treasures from Film Archives”; a detailed index of the silent-era film holdings of archives from around the world, a selection of Reference volumes and the linked full-text of over 60 journals.
  • JSTOR books  Middlebury has purchased access to nearly 800 e-books on the JSTOR platform. Subjects include books published in 2015-2017 in the broad areas of languages and literatures, sociology, political science, and climate change. (You will find relevant content from any of these books by searching the JSTOR platform. In the near future, they will also be in the library’s catalog.)