Since our establishment as a program (1958) and later as a department (1979), the University of Waterloo’s Department of Spanish and Latin American Studies has steadily gained strength, credibility, and respect. Our program focuses on language, literature, and civilization courses. In addition, our commitment to offer a translation plan reflects our concern for achieving the ideal combination of pedagogical focus, faculty research, and student needs.
Understanding cultural diversity
The study of Latin American and Spanish civilization and literature bears witness to the diversity of the Hispanic world; it invites us to explore and to fully appreciate the scope and significance of peoples rooted in a vast social, economic, and historical landscape. In the past several decades, Latin America has produced some of the most influential and widely-read writers in the world. Brilliant poets and novelists such as Gabriela Mistral, Pablo Neruda, Octavio Paz, Alejo Carpentier, Gabriel García Márquez, Carlos Fuentes, Mario Vargas-Llosa, Isabel Allende, and Elena Poniatowska, among others, have given Latin American literature a new prestige. By examining such artists, the Spanish Department offers a timely perspective to a culture that comprises a large part of the Western Hemisphere. A growing entente with Mexico and with the Central and South American as well as the Caribbean countries demands a knowledge of both the language and its unique culture.
Spanish: Today and tomorrow
In addition to the traditional opportunities in teaching and translation, business firms are employing language majors in increasing numbers, as both Spain and Latin America have become important consumers of technology and manufactured goods. A great deal of social science and humanistic research is being done in Latin America as industrialized nations are focusing their interests on development – this new focus creates a need for Spanish-speaking researchers, planners, organizers and executors of a large variety of programs. Possible fields to pursue include: Education, Translation, Museums, Journalism, Civil Service, Communications, Import/Export, Advertising, Publishers, Law, Libraries, Banks, Travel Agencies, Broadcasting, Airlines, Social Work, Local Government, Federal Government, and Diplomatic work, among others.
Most of our current students are enrolled in the Honours or Majors programs in Spanish; others are pursuing double honours with other departments and faculties. Our Department offers both the General 3-year and the 4-year programs. In all programs, you may choose language or literature-oriented courses – if you choose literature-oriented courses, you may choose to concentrate on either Latin American or Peninsular literature. In the Honours program you may choose Spanish as either a single Honours or Spanish in combination with another discipline. You may also complete an Honours Major in Spanish through the Arts and Business co-operative program.
In April 2001, University of Waterloo Senate approved our proposal to start a new plan. The Spanish/English translation Plan was designed to meet the growing demand for professionally trained translators in a world of international markets. As first-world countries deal progressively more with foreign trade partners, Spanish/English translators are in increased demand.