Introduction of Portuguese to Wellesley Curriculum Recognizes Global Significance of Lusophone Countries and Cultures
This fall for the first time, Wellesley students have the opportunity to take Portuguese—the newest language taught on campus. The Spanish Department will offer two intensive courses in Portuguese, PORT103 (Fall 2013) and PORT203 (Spring 2014), enabling students to fulfill their two-year language requirement in one year. Portuguese is one of 15 languages offered at Wellesley—the others being Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi-Urdu, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latin, Russian, Spanish, and Swahili—a larger menu to choose from than almost all liberal arts colleges of its size.
Portuguese is the sixth most spoken language in the world, used in the countries of Portugal, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Sao Tome e Principe, Angola, Mozambique, East Timor, and parts of India and China (Macau). Portuguese features prominently in the work of artists like the Portuguese Nobel Prize winner José Saramago (Blindness) and Brazilian musicians Caetano Veloso and Antonio Carlos Jobim. Massachusetts in particular boasts a large community of Portuguese, Brazilians, and Cape Verdeans.
Over the past few years, interest in Portuguese classes has grown at the College, according to Profesor of Spanish and Department Chair Carlos Ramos and Dean of Faculty Affairs and the Katherine Lee Bates & Sophie Chantal Hart Professor of English Kathryn Lynch. The interest comes in part from the increased number of students who want to study, travel, and volunteer in Brazil. Wellesley received a grant from the Mellon Foundation, which enables Wellesley to begin offering the language in collaboration with MIT.
The instructor will be António Igrejas, the Mellon Foundation Lecturer in Portuguese and new member of the Spanish Department. Igrejas has a Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst in Lusophone Literatures and Cultures, and comes to Wellesley from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point where he was assistant professor of Portuguese.
“Portuguese is a global language. It is a language of trade, but also of artistic expression,” said Igrejas. “Consequently, learning Portuguese complements Wellesley’s institutional focus on promoting active citizenship and multidisciplinary global perspectives.To have the opportunity to share the Portuguese-speaking world with the Wellesley community is equally a privilege and an honor I embrace with great responsibility.”
Igrejas’ courses will engage students in developing speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills, with an emphasis on Brazilian culture, explored through cultural readings, literature, music, art, and film. (As a side benefit, students who are soccer fans will be able to cheer on some of the world’s top teams in the players’ native tongues!)
All years are welcome to enroll in the class; however, students must have an upper-intermediate competency in Spanish and have passed SPAN202 or its equivalent, as judged by Igrejas. Both PORT103 and PORT203 will be intensive courses, completing the introductory and intermediate curriculums in one semester each through four days per week.
“Offering it in an intensive form permits a student to satisfy her Wellesley language requirement in Portuguese,” said Lynch. “The intensive format is also modeled on a successful course that our partners at MIT have been teaching and that some Wellesley students have taken.”
Outside of the classroom, Igrejas plans to organize cultural events, lectures, and film screenings throughout the year as part of the Portuguese program. Stay tuned!