About the Major

The foreign language and literature program at Wilson College offers courses in French, Latin and Spanish and a major in Spanish. Its primary objective is to expand and enhance students’ liberal arts backgrounds by enabling them to enter into another culture directly through mastery of its language and, especially, through the study of its literature – one of the most significant expressions of a culture. Exposure to other peoples’ languages, cultures and literature is an enriching experience that is open and available to every student, regardless of professional interests or fields of specialization. To accomplish our aims, we offer the following sequence of courses:

1. Language courses at the introductory, intermediate and advanced levels in which the study of grammar is accompanied by discussion of cultural and literary readings,and by constant oral practice, both in class and out. Placement tests may be used to determine the class level of the students, although decisions regarding placement for students with previous experience in the language can often be made after consultation with advisers and/or professors in the department. Students with three or more years of high school language (with no gap between high school and college) whose previous instructors taught in the target language (except for Latin) are usually prepared for continued study at the intermediate level.

2. Courses on the cultures and civilizations of French- and Spanish-speaking countries, as well as those of ancient Greece and Rome, provide comprehensive overviews of those historical processes, social and political institutions, traditions, customs and intellectual and artistic achievements generally considered as essential and distinctive elements of their cultural identity.

3. Literature courses at the introductory and advanced levels are aimed at majors or minors in language and literature but are open to anyone with the ability to work in the given language. On occasion, literature and culture courses are taught in a dual-language format to accommodate interested students who have not studied the language in question. Students enrolling in sections taught in translation must have completed at least one English course at the 100 level. Both introductory and advanced courses in literature share the intention of enlarging the literacy and enhancing the analytical skills of students, at the same time that they present – at the introductory level – general overviews of the most important works, authors and trends that make up a particular cultural and literary tradition. The advanced level is a more focused and concentrated study of particular topics or themes.