One of the most attractive aspects of being a professor of Latin American literature and Spanish language at Vassar College is the opportunity to integrate classroom teaching with travel and study abroad. Leading study trips to South America, Mexico and Spain, has enriched both students’ learning and the courses I teach, as well as shaped the direction of my own research and scholarship.
As an outgrowth of my own study and travel in Mexico, I started and directed the Vassar’s Summer Language Program in Oaxaca, Mexico (2004, 2005) and I recently returned from directing the Vassar Wesleyan Program in Madrid for the second time (1992-93, 2006-07). Time and again these experiences affirm for me the importance and immense value of cultural immersion in learning a language and fostering cultural competence. Previously I led study trips to Bolivia (1992) and Cuba (1999), and have lived or traveled in most Latin American countries.
My own research interests focus on the intersection between literature and the visual arts as expressed, for example, in the Latin American avant-garde and Mexican muralism. I have incorporated my scholarship in this area into the classroom through courses such as Mexican Art, Literature and Popular Culture which includes a field trip to look at local murals painted in the same time period (1930s), as well as those created by contemporary Latino artist Nestor Madalengoitia in downtown Poughkeepsie.
This exploration of language and culture very much reflects themes in my own life experience as an immigrant from Romania. I completed my education at the University of Toronto (Canada), the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and University of California at Berkeley. I have taught at Vassar College in the Department of Hispanic Studies since 1987. I am currently a participating faculty in the Latin American and Latino Studies Program, and enjoyed serving as Advisor to the Class of 2005 in the Dean of Studies Office from 2002 to 2005.
I have published an anthology of Latin American Avant-Garde poetry, (Antología de la poesía latinoamericana de vanguardia), as well as articles on modernismo and the Avant-Garde, and creative short stories. My autobiography entitled Leaving – Memories of Romania was published this fall by Millrock Writers Collective in New Paltz, NY.