Claremont McKenna College recently hired its first full-time, tenure-track assistant professor of Portuguese to the Department of Modern Languages.
Professor Norman Valencia holds a Ph.D. in both Portuguese and Spanish from Yale University, where he wrote a dissertation on patriarchy and power in the Latin American novel. He has published several articles about Latin American literature and co-edited a book of essays on the topic of Brazil. He currently serves as the Academic Subdirector of the Instituto Caro y Cuervo in Bogotá, Colombia.
Professor Lee Skinner, Associate Professor of Spanish at CMC, explained that the decision to hire a professor of Portuguese manifested from the growing relevance of Brazil in international affairs. She said, “The decision to add a professor of Portuguese came about because there was interest and recognition from a lot of people that Brazil is an increasingly important area of focus and that CMC should offer students the opportunity to study Portuguese and to take content courses on Brazil as well. Brazil is the largest country in Latin America and the fifth-largest country in the world; it is a very important trading partner for the United States; and more immediately, it will host the 2014 World Cup in soccer and the 2016 Olympic Games.”
She explained that although CMC and Scripps have previously offered occasional courses in introductory Portuguese, “having a full-time, tenure-track assistant professor of Portuguese and Spanish allows us to systematically build a Portuguese program for CMC and the 5Cs. So the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures proposed to the administration that we begin teaching Portuguese and that we hire a tenure-track assistant professor.”
The History Department has also hired a professor of Latin American history who specializes in Brazil for similar reasons. Both the History and Modern Languages Departments received a grant from the Mellon Foundation for the Humani- ties to fund the first three years of the respective positions.
Professor Valencia will teach both Portuguese and Spanish classes at CMC. The program will begin next fall with PORT 22 (Accelerated Intensive Portuguese) for students who have already studied another Romance language (Spanish, French, or Italian). In spring 2014, Valencia will teach PORT 33 (Intermediate Portuguese). As the program grows, the Modern Languages Department will add upper-division courses as well as introductory Portuguese for students with no previous experience in another Romance language.
Professor Skinner concluded by saying, “This is really a great opportunity for CMC and the Claremont Colleges and we’re delighted to welcome Prof. Valencia to our community.”
Look out for an interview with Professor Norman Valencia himself, to be published to claremontindependent.com in the near future.