Joan Brown, Elias Ahuja Chair of Spanish
Elias Ahuja Chair of Spanish
University of Delaware
235 Jastak-Burgess Hall
Newark, DE 19716
Professor Brown holds the Elias Ahuja Chair of Spanish. Her research and publications are in the areas of contemporary Spanish literature and culture, canon studies, women writers, and second-language acquisition. She teaches courses on contemporary Spanish literature and film, the Spanish Civil War, women writers of Spain and Latin America, and oral language acquisition in its cultural context. She is a committed member of the Honors faculty and offers combined Honors and MA-level seminars on Spanish literature and culture.
Ph.D., Romance Languages-Spanish, University of Pennsylvania
M.A., Romance-Languages-Spanish, University of Pennsylvania
B.A., Hispanic Studies, Vassar College
She has published book chapters and scholarly articles in journals including the Hispanic Review, Ínsula, Hispania, and Anales de la Literatura Española Contemporánea.
- Secrets from the Back Room: The Fiction of Carmen Martín Gaite
- Women Writers of Contemporary Spain: Exiles in the Homeland
This conversation text implements a dynamic, learner-centered approach that encourages students to use Spanish to resolve meaningful and emotionally charged conflicts. A carefully crafted pedagogical apparatus featuring Conversaciones creadora mini-dramas, written by renowned Spanish novelist Carmen Martin Gaite, challenges students to become active participants in the learning process.
Approaches to Teaching the Works of Carmen Martín Gaite
The career of Spain’s celebrated author Carmen Martín Gaite spanned the Spanish Civil War, Franco’s dictatorship, and the nation’s transition to democracy. She wrote fiction, poetry, drama, screenplays for television and film, and books of literary and cultural analysis. The only person to win Spain’s National Prize for Literature (Premio Nacional de las Letras) twice, Martín Gaite explored and blended a range of genres, from social realism to the fantastic, as she took up issues of gender, class, economics, and aesthetics in a time of political upheaval.
Confronting Our Canons: Spanish and Latin American Studies in the 21st Century
What is a canon and why does it matter? In Confronting Our Canons: Spanish and Latin American Studies in the 21st Century, Joan L. Brown shows that a canon has the power to define a field and determine what is taught. She argues that it is both productive and necessary to confront our canons, to see what is actually in them and how these works and authors got there. Only then can educators take charge of their teaching canons and, by extension, their disciplines. Brown demonstrates that there is little agreement in the reported teaching canons in English and Spanish. Analyzing twentieth- and twenty-first-century required graduate reading lists in Spanish and Latin American literature in the United States, she finds that the core literary canon for graduate students is less comprehensive than the Spanish Advanced Placement reading list for high school students. She encourages the field of Hispanic studies—curators of the cultural patrimony of our country’s second language—to take the lead in developing a diverse, flexible, shared foundational canon at the graduate level, before the arbiters of “best practices” do this for us.
Professor Brown has been active in the Modern Language Association, serving a term as chair of the LLC Forum on 20th - and 21st- Century Spanish and Iberian Studies. She has served the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese as its liaison to the MLA and as chair of its Committee on Honorary Membership. She has given invited lectures in the United States, Spain, and England. Among the scholarly sessions she has organized and chaired are an MLA panel entitled "What Do Graduate Students in Spanish Need to Learn, and Why?," the MLA panel "Carmen Martín Gaite: What Defines Her Legacy?" and the AATSP panel "Salamanca in the Literature of its Native Daughter," all subsequently published as suites of essays in Hispania. She recently delivered a talk on the future of the profession on an international panel at Harvard University. She has served on a number of editorial boards including the Board of Editors of the University of Delaware Press.
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