Alison Posey '15
Matriculating at Hobart William Smith in 2011, I did not expect a required language class – SPAN 101 – to lead me to my future career. In fact, I had very different plans in mind; I wanted to explore the fascinating world of environmental studies, but despite Professors of Biology Meghan Brown and Mark Deutschlander’s best efforts (and an unforgettable behind-the-scenes visit to the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. in my first year, where we met a sloth bear), my growing love of languages and literature led me to something I had never expected: an undergraduate major Spanish and Hispanic Studies with a minor in Latin American Studies.
SPAN 101 led to classes on Hispanic literature, culture, as well as the exceptional opportunity to study abroad with HWS both in Seville, Spain, and South America. Although I never would have guessed it at the time, all of those long hours I spent in Smith Hall struggling through irregular subjunctive verbs and indirect object pronouns gave me the linguistic and cultural skills I needed to fall in love with the Hispanic world and its literatures.
Right now, I am a doctoral candidate at the University of Virginia, finishing my Ph.D. in Spanish literature. My doctoral dissertation explores how contemporary Peninsular narrative—the novel, the graphic novel, and fiction film—represents complex questions of identity, democracy and nationalism in Spain and its minority communities. My research combines recent studies in global political theory, postnationalism, and visual culture with close readings of multilingual and cross-cultural sources. I’ve published my original research in a number of academic journals and with publishers, including UCLA’s Mester, the University of Washington’s Poéticas, and Valparaíso Press. Most recently, in January 2021, I published an article in Deia, a Spanish newspaper.
I started graduate school at the University of Virginia immediately after graduating from HWS in 2015. My advisers in the Spanish Department, Professors Caroline Travalia and Fernando Rodríguez Mansilla, were instrumental in convincing me to apply; without them, I wouldn’t have even considered the doctorate and the master’s degree to which I’ve devoted most of my 20s. Their unwavering support and continued friendship, even years later, inspire me as I’ve begun to seek work as a professor of contemporary Spanish literature. HWS’ Department of Spanish has had an indelible effect on me as an educator and researcher (as well as an inveterate Hispanophile), and I hope to soon offer undergraduate students the same encouragement, guidance and enthusiasm for Spanish language and literature that were extended to me back in SPAN 101.