New Spanish Professor Seeks Social Change Through Language
Prof. José Ortigas joins SCU’s Modern Languages and Literatures Department
by Thanh-Thao Sue Do’ 19
An engineer turned language professor, Prof. José Ortigas is the newest Spanish professor in Santa Clara University’s Department of Modern Languages & Literatures. Ortigas graduated from UC Davis with a Masters and Ph.D. in Spanish with a specialization in Transatlantic Studies. He comes to Santa Clara from Pacific Lutheran University.
He has multifaceted research interests including critical theory, heritage learner pedagogy, and the interpretation of popular fiction as a denunciation of social abuses in Mexico and Spain. He has studied migrant narratives and issues associated with borders. He is intrigued by how the effects of neoliberal globalization in the Spanish-speaking world are represented in literature and culture.
Ortigas was drawn to SCU by “the energy of the students, and the university’s emphasis on the integration of social justice issues in its curriculum.” He also is anxious to partner with the university on what he describes as “opportunities for traditionally underrepresented groups.”
Ortigas describes his approach to teaching as emphasizing “a sense of community and empathy” through group projects, sharing personal experiences, and, he hopes, film and texts critical to understanding both culture and language.
This fall, Prof. Ortigas is teaching Advanced Spanish 1 (SPAN 100) and a new course he calls Hispanic Voices Social Change (SPAN 132). The course examines strategies of resistance and adaptation that individuals and groups develop to respond to experiences of social injustice, inequality, and geographic displacement throughout the 20th- and 21st-centuries in the Spanish-speaking world.