The Department of Spanish and Portuguese Studies is excited to announce the development of a brand new major, effective Fall 2019, which will be replacing the two current majors (Spanish, Portuguese) offered by SPS. The BA in Hispanic and Latin American Languages, Literatures and Linguistics includes three possible tracks for students: 1) Spanish; 2) Portuguese; and 3) a combined Spanish and Portuguese track.

We undertook this reform in order to more accurately reflect the nature of our departmental offerings, and to better appeal to the changing interests and needs of our students. Our Spanish and Portuguese offerings are evolving, in conjunction with the changing face of humanities disciplines nation-wide, and have moved away from the traditional philological approach to explore new areas such as linguistics, film, and language for professions. At the upper division, we offer coursework in linguistics focusing on theoretical as well as applied areas, such as sociolinguistics, bilingualism, language in contact, and new approaches to language teaching and learning. The offerings in literature and culture include advanced coursework in film and society, popular culture, the visual arts and literature, and courses on themes such as violence, gender and sexuality as well as pressing socio-political issues in the Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking world.

What’s more, the new curriculum provides us with the opportunity to highlight and combine the two languages that comprise our department, as well as the modern curriculum we offer and the potential for interdisciplinary study. UF has already taken the first step in recognizing the unique status of Spanish and Portuguese in our state by creating a separate department for our languages, while combining other world languages into one department. As the only institution in the FL state university system that maintains a separate department for Spanish & Portuguese, we are uniquely poised to distinguish ourselves with this degree program. By including a track combining coursework on Spain, Spanish America and Brazil, our program helps foster the “translingual and transcultural competence” (Modern Language Association, 2007) students need in order to be successful in today’s multilingual world, with an emphasis on the languages and cultures that are among the most important for the state of Florida.

Farewell to Susana Braylan

Senior Lecturer Susana Braylan is retiring in May 2019. Susana first came to UF as an undergraduate student in 1980, earned her MA in Spanish Literature in 1990, and was hired as a full-time Lecturer in Spanish in 1997. She recalls with gratitude the influence of those professors who opened her eyes to a new world and shaped her into a more enlightened person. Susana mentions in particular Dr. Adolfo Prieto, “mentor and guide, great friend and advisor,” and Dr. Geraldine Nichols, who opened the doors to feminism and feminist thought for her.

Portrait of Susana Braylan

Over her more than two decades working at UF, Susana has served the department in a wide range of capacities. Reflecting on these, she says she believes the most important educational project of her time, and her major contribution to SPS, was to coordinate the Spanish as a Heritage Language Program (formerly the Bilingual Program, and originally the Native and Near-Native Speakers Program, designed and directed for several years by Dr. Reynaldo Jiménez). Susana introduced changes to the program and vigorously promoted it across the UF campus. She is pleased to leave the Bilingual Program in the capable hands of Drs. Diego Pascual and Víctor Jordán-Orozco.

Susana’s participation in SPS’s study abroad programs constitutes her most cherished professional experience. She accompanied groups of UF students four times to Santander and twice to Valencia. She also initiated and directed a program in Buenos Aires, which ran for only a few years. Susana particularly enjoyed having her students share their experiences with her, as well as witnessing the amazement and joy they felt at discovering new places.
Susana has kept in touch with many of her former students, especially via social media. “They make me feel that I have made a small but positive mark on their lives, which assures me that although I will be retired I will remain present in their lives,” she writes.

As for her retirement plans, Susana wants to spend time with family members she has barely seen lately, especially the growing number of grandchildren she has around the world in Texas, Argentina, and Spain. She and Horacio plan to move to North Carolina, where they will be able to cruise the Blue Ridge Parkway on their Gold Wing motorcycles!

Dr. Lynn Scott followed a somewhat circuitous route into the then Department of Romance Languages and Literatures. At the “advanced age of 23,” as Lynn put it, she moved to Mexico with her English-speaking husband and only then began learning Spanish—primarily by having to shop for basic household necessities. Lynn had studied both French and Italian in college, and her background in those closely related Romance languages proved to be quite useful. During and after her year in Mexico City, she continued to study Spanish on her own, and her confidence and competence in the language continued to develop. After substitute-teaching at Buchholz High School in Gainesville, Lynn decided to jump into the MA program in Spanish at 40+ years of age. “I loved it — the intellectual stimulation of the classes, the teaching, the research,” she writes. Dr. Geraldine Nichols (now Professor Emerita) encouraged Lynn to continue her studies in the UF Ph.D. program. As Lynn recalls, “it was hard with two kids at home, but it was a great cultural and intellectual experience. I’m still in touch with several of my graduate student colleagues who treated me as an equal and, better yet, respected my knowledge.” While working on her Ph.D. dissertation, Lynn’s research was supported with a CLAS Dissertation Fellowship and grants from the Tinker Foundation and the Program for Cultural Cooperation in Madrid. In addition, she was named the Tybel Spivack Scholar in Women’s Studies in 1993. Her dissertation focused on the early 20th-century Spanish author, Carmen de Burgos, and she completed her Ph.D. in 1999. Lynn’s essay on one of Carmen de Burgos’s works was published in the Feminist Encyclopedia of Spanish Literature. Lynn recently donated her copies of many of the author’s writings to the department.

Lynn Scott

“It was hard with two kids at home, but it was a great cultural and intellectual experience.”

Once Lynn was no longer teaching and had some free time, she and her husband were invited to join a Spanish-speaking social group called Los Amigos de Gainesville where they were the only non-Latino couple. Lynn writes: “It was great for my Spanish and I learned to dance the merengue—sort of!” But she and her husband have decided that it’s time for them to leave Gainesville and move closer to their three grand-daughters, the eldest of whom is only 5. “Unfortunately,” Lynn concludes, “they’re in cold Connecticut.” But she looks forward to the move as a new adventure.

Kaley Barbára believes that adding a Spanish minor at UF has impacted her life more than she would have ever thought possible. Learning about the language, art, and music of the Spanish-speaking world sparked a desire in Kaley to immerse herself in the culture. During her first two years of college, Kaley traveled to both Spain and Ecuador. She wanted to use her knowledge of the Spanish language in a real-world setting and explore new cultures. Kaley writes: “Knowing enough Spanish to converse with the local people allowed me to gain a much deeper understanding of their cultures than I would have as an English-speaking tourist.”

While traveling in Ecuador, Kaley witnessed severe poverty in many of the local communities, and she learned about the hardships many people face living in third-world Latin-American countries, which was a very difficult but eye-opening experience. But she was also able to climb the beautiful volcanos outside of Quito and to visit the Amazon rainforest.

Kaley Barbára

“The significance of learning a second language has been incomparable for me and I hope to generate value in the world because of it.”

Kaley’s trip to Ecuador prompted her to explore career opportunities beyond those in U.S.-based corporations. She now hopes to work one day with the World Bank and to look for development opportunities in Latin-American countries. To complement her undergraduate studies in finance and Spanish, Kaley began working towards a combined Master’s degree in International Business in order to become more familiar with international capital markets. Next semester, in conjunction with her master’s program, she plans to return to South America with the purpose of learning more about business movements there.

Ultimately, Kaley believes, studying Spanish has made her more mindful of the world around her. As she puts it, “I have become more aware of the opportunities I have been blessed with. I have the ability to pursue a higher education and to live in a country with an innumerable number of job opportunities. The experiences I have had because of my Spanish courses made me realize I need to use my privilege to help others.”