To the Editor: Borges, Allende not US Latinos

In his op-ed piece, “Williams needs Latino Studies program” (January 18), Sergio Espinosa notes, “There are so many courses in the English department, but not one class studying Jorge Luis Borges or Isabel Allende. In high schools in Southern California, it is becoming commonplace to study The House of the Spirits or Labyrinths in English classes, but not at [Williams].”

Need I remind Mr. Espinosa that Borges is from Argentina and Allende from Chile? Neither one is a US Latino. Rather, they are Latin American figures. And, in all fairness, it must be said that the English department does not have as its expected pedagogical duties the teaching of authors from Latin America (or, for that matter, from Russia or Germany or Sweden or Japan).

On the other hand, I am happy to inform Mr. Espinosa that the great Latin American writers are read extensively in our Spanish courses as well as in literary studies, both in their original languages and in translation. Borges, for instance, is regularly taught in RLSP 104 (Intermediate Spanish) and in RLSP 203 (Major Latin American Authors). The collection Labyrinths (incidentally not a Borges title but that of a New York publisher’s anthology) will in fact be on the reading list for my RLSP 205/LITS 215 (The Latin American Novel in Translation) next fall. Mr. Espinosa will be more than welcome in my class, and I invite him to drop by my office to chat about these issues any time.

Gene H. Bell-Villada

Chair & Professor

Department of Romance Languages

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