Jul 23, 2024  
2023-2024 Undergraduate Catalog 
2023-2024 Undergraduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Classical and Modern Languages and Literatures

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Department Faculty:

              Chair: Associate Professor Peter Vantine
              Professor:  Carolyn Lukens-Olson

Affiliated Faculty:

     Ronald Begley (Philosophy)

In these days of global complexities and rapid changes at the international level, we need to prepare our students to address the challenges that our society is facing; the environment, politics, the economy, communications, education, and business are just a few of the many fields in which languages are of growing importance. The ability to communicate in languages other than English is already necessary within our society, and it is increasingly likely that during their professional careers college graduates will benefit from an understanding of one or more foreign languages.

The programs offered by the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures are designed to help students achieve proficiency in the languages we teach: Spanish, French, Chinese, and Latin, while also giving  them an understanding of the cultures associated with these languages through the study of their literature, art, history, and politics. Our courses explore rich literary and artistic traditions and teach students to find meaning and value in works presenting sensibilities and views of the world outside the range of their own experiences. We choose and develop our study trips and travel abroad programs with the goal of having our students not only improve their language skills but also immerse themselves in new cultures, often participating in internships and service activities. On campus, we sponsor and organize activities such as concerts, Spanish Mass, film series for both French and Spanish, French Club, Spanish Club, Francophone Day events, and conversation hours; to bring together the Saint Michael’s community and the local community, both American and international, through languages.

Study abroad is strongly recommended for all majors and minors; the overwhelming majority of our language majors and minors studies abroad at least one semester.



Upon successful completion of the major, French and Spanish students will be able to:

  • Communicate effectively and appropriately through speaking and writing in the target language at the high intermediate or advanced level* in a wide range of situations: including daily usage in a domestic or international setting; educational environments, from study abroad to graduate school; and general professional contexts.
  • *Proficiency levels based on guidelines established by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL).
  • Read, discuss with others, and indepently explore significant works of literature and other forms of cultural production in the target language, while being attentive to their historical contexts, their overall significance, and their continued relevance.
  • Examine and produce coherent analyses of cultural and literary topics through research and critical reflection, demonstrating relevant use of textual evidence and documentation.
  • Produce accurate, well-crafted written work and polished public speaking using the results of their own research and the research of others.
  • Reflect on the values of the cultures they have studied and been immersed in, and be able to draw reasoned comparisons to their own culture on important topics.
  • Apply their advanced language abilities, cultural knowledge, and intercultural competency to pursue professional opportunities or graduate studies — in the United States or in a country where the target lanuague is spoken.
  • Use the language to enrich their lives.


  • Students will articulate and evaluate arguments, beginning with gramatical and philological assessments.
  • Students will write effectively.
  • Students will be prepared for careers in the professions of medicine, law, and academic life.
  • Students will demonstrate knowledge of authors, genres, and texts from all periods of Latin literature.
  • Students will describe the dialogue between Ancients and Moderns, helping them to understand the significance of what is sometimes described as ‘The Battle of the Books’.
  • Students will engage questions of faith and reason (‘What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?’).

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