November 1 was a red-letter date for two modern-language professors at Wagner College, Margarita Sánchez and Katica Urbanc.
Four years after first proposing their new Spanish textbook to a publisher, they finally held in their hands finished copies of Retratos: Arte y sociedad en Lationoamérica y España.
It’s a different kind of language text, in several ways.
Two student trips to the art galleries of Spain had shown Urbanc “that art is a very powerful tool for communication. Students are drawn, in some ways, to art more than to literary texts,” and great works by Spanish-speaking artists play a big part in the new book, the title of which translates as Portraits.
“We don’t just sit at our desks and take notes,” explained Olivia Josephsen ’18, one of the students who has “test driven” Retratos. “We look at art and literature and spend our time discussing these sophisticated topics.”
“We focus a lot on women writers, too,” Sánchez said, highlighting another one of the new book’s distinctions, “and we picked our favorites from Spain and Latin America — and not just our favorites, but the best!”
“We wanted to avoid stereotypes,” Urbanc added, “and really talk about what’s going on today in Latin America. Students have been talking about bullfights in Spain since middle school. They’re ready for something else!”