Department of Romance Studies

Our vision on diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism

The Department of Romance Studies is composed of faculty who come from different countries, speak different languages, and participate in different academic disciplines. We speak as individuals who work in the United States, at an institution that is committed to social justice work. We also speak from our areas of disciplinary expertise, as faculty of Romance Studies.

Recognizing that our contemporary moment lies at the intersection of two pandemics (Covid-19 and ongoing racism), we stand in solidarity with Black, indigenous, brown, and all people of color and their allies. We understand that both state-sanctioned and extra-judicial violence against Black lives occurs in the United States and in other parts of the world, and we condemn these acts of violence, anti-Blackness, and racism.

We understand that sentiments of anti-Blackness can be and are reproduced in the various languages we study, and we are committed to challenging anti-Black discourse in our classrooms. We also understand that discussions of race in a Black/white binary may not apply to other parts of the world. Therefore, we are committed to practicing anti-racism in ways that not only honor the cultural, social, and historical specificities of the global spaces that we study, but also validate the lived experience of Brandeis students in the United States.

Students graduating in Hispanic Studies, French and Francophone Studies, and Italian Studies should not only know the names of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Rayshard Brooks (among many others), but also the names of indigenous activists who are murdered in Latin America (such as Berta Cáceres), those of the thousands of First Nations women missing in Canada (such as Donna Paré), the names of immigrant children separated from their families at the border, the names of undocumented queer activists (such as Julio Salgado), and the names of the victims of transphobia (such as Maria Paola Gaglione). We understand that this list is not all-inclusive, and we are committed to recognizing and naming injustices in their many manifestations.

The mission of the Department of Romance Studies is to further the study of Romance languages, and, in particular, in our department, the French, Italian, and Spanish languages, and to explore their literary and cultural traditions. Our curriculum reflects the linguistic diversity of the Romance-speaking world and covers the immense variety of its cultural expressions. Our courses give voice to increasingly diverse and global communities, covering, for instance, the Francophone literature of the Caribbean and Africa, early modern Indigenous writers, or Latin American and Latina/x feminist thinkers.

In a field that inherently values difference across linguistic, cultural and racial lines, and examines diversity in all its historical nuances, we are committed to pedagogies which enact, in both content and methodology, values consistent with pluralism, inclusivity and diversity in their many manifestations, in terms of race, ethnicity, class background, gender identity, sexual orientation, cognitive and physical diversity and ability. As scholars, we will continue to examine our disciplines to address any explicit or implicit bias that might perpetuate historical forms of exclusion and marginalization. As teachers, we are committed to classroom practices and curricular choices that actively oppose racism and any other form of discrimination.

In our current context, learning other languages creates dynamic shifts in perspective, and the study of literature and culture is an empowering tool that allows us to reinvent and reconfigure aesthetic and political communities.