Newsletter | Winter 2013

Irene Hopkins, Editor

Anthony Geist
From the Chair

¡Feliz Año Nuevo¡ I write to you from Padelford Hall, having spent the fall quarter directing our new study abroad program in Cusco, Peru. A little time and distance have helped me see our department in a slightly different light. I’m struck by the many ways in which a large and disparate group of individuals is working toward a common goal. It’s a particular pleasure to see our two new colleagues, Ana Gómez-Bravo and Raquel Albarrán (featured in this issue), settled in and making an impact in the department. Read Tony Geist's complete letter

A Night at the Theatre on March 14

The annual SPAN 449 production is set for March 14, 15 and 16 at 7:30 p.m. in the School of Drama’s Cabaret Theater. The evening will include four short plays, all concerning the rifts and barriers that build through social, economic, and cultural divisions. In addition to actors from the Play Production class, there will be special appearances by distinguished faculty and staff members Anthony Geist, David Miles, and Joan Fox. Students have been involved all aspects of the production, including costumes, props, dramaturgical research, lobby display, program, and promotion. Read more

Raquel Albarran
Faculty Spotlight: Raquel Albarrán

Raquel Albarrán, one of the newest members of the division, wants to enable students to be agents for their own awakening. “I seldom tell students what I think, but I structure my syllabus so that they will ask questions about what they think,” explains Albarrán, acting assistant professor, who specializes in colonial Latin American studies, race, and material culture, with a secondary focus on Hispanic Caribbean literature and culture. Read more

Emily Thompson
Student Spotlight: Emily Thompson

“My goal is to be a translator,” says Emily Thompson, a 2008 UW graduate with degrees in English Literature and Spanish. “That is what I really enjoy.” After earning her BA, Thompson spent a year in Spain as part of the Spanish government's Cultural Ambassador Program before returning to the UW to pursue an MA in Hispanic Studies. She recently translated a book of poems by Blanca Varela, a Peruvian poet who died in 2009; she first learned of the poet when Professor Edgar O’Hara quoted a Varela poem one day during lunch. Read more

David Miles
Staff Spotlight: David Miles

“By being around language learning, you can continue learning forever,” says David Miles, administrator for program operations for Spanish and Portuguese Studies and French and Italian Studies. Miles graduated from the UW with a degree in Russian and has spent most of his career in the University's language departments. After working in the Slavic Department for 25 years, he took on additional responsibilities for the Linguistics Department before taking his current job in 2001. “There is always a unique problem to solve, and different people to work with, and the new students each year keep it fresh,” says Miles. Read more

Poetry of Juan Velez
The Poetry of Julio Vélez

For the 20th anniversary of the death of Spanish poet Julio Vélez, Materia y sombra: Poesía completa was published, with a lengthy introduction by Anthony Geist, chair of Spanish and Portuguese Studies. "Julio and I met over a meal in 1980 (I still remember what we ate)," recalls Geist, "and it was love at first sight. He quickly became my closest friend and remained so for the rest of his life. This book is testimony to our friendship." Read more

Department News


Changing demographics nationally and locally lend a new urgency to our mission to study language, literatures, and cultures. Join us today as we strive to create knowledgeable and compassionate citizens, and foster in them tolerance, respect for cultural diversity, a capacity for critical thinking, and a sense of themselves as responsible members of a global community.

The Friends of Spanish and Portuguese Studies Fund is an unrestricted, discretionary resource. These funds are vital in sustaining scholarships, undergraduate research, faculty development, and the many cultural events the department sponsors each year. Your gift will provide valuable resources for the department and its students to advance the Spanish and Portuguese languages and literatures and cultures of Spain, Portugal, Latin America and US Latinos. Checks can be mailed to: UW College of Arts & Sciences, Attn. Jessica Carter, Box 354882, Seattle, WA 98195. Please make checks payable to the University of Washington and indicate the “Friends of Spanish and Portuguese Studies Fund” in the reference line. Alternatively, if you wish to contribute by credit card, you can do so on-line by following this link:

León Bensadón Memorial Scholarship Fund

Donations in León’s memory can be made to the “León Bensadón Memorial Scholarship Fund.”  This new fund pays tribute to León’s passion for his Sephardic heritage and the students he loved to teach.  It benefits UW undergraduate or graduate students interested in working on Sephardic and Ladino studies.  Checks can be mailed to:

UW College of Arts & Sciences,
Attn. Jessica Carter
Box 354882
Seattle, WA 98195 

Please make checks payable to the University of Washington and indicate the “León Bensadón Memorial Scholarship Fund” in the reference line.  Alternatively, if you wish to contribute by credit card, you can reach Jessica at 206-685-6829, or by email at

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