“The most important thing a teacher can do is inspire students’ curiosity, even if it turns out to be related to a different discipline entirely.”
Henry Berlin remembers the role his teachers played in sparking his interest in Spanish literature. He realizes he’s now in a position to help his students understand why some particular writing is enduring or see the beauty in a particular passage.
“What I enjoy most is sharing works of literature that I have come to love with students. It's often the case that someone had to help me see what there was to love in them, and I like to try to pass that on.”
It’s also his job to make sure his students have the tools they need to study the works in their original language and to read them critically. Berlin feels that one of the strengths of Transylvania’s Spanish faculty is the breadth of interests represented by the professors. A student can always find a professor who shares an interest in a specific period or genre of writing.
“The Spanish professors here are all committed to helping students achieve a high level of Spanish language skills and a broad knowledge of Spanish literature and history. At the same time, when students become passionate about a particular area of the literature, they have a specialist in that particular field to help them pursue that passion.”
Although Berlin has been at Transylvania only a short time, he has already seen the confidence with which Transylvania students head off to study abroad or pursue advanced degrees. That doesn’t surprise him. He has noticed that the questions his students ask push him “to explain my ideas with more clarity.” That, in turn, helps him realize he can demand more of his students and therefore better prepare them for what awaits them beyond Transylvania.
“I love Spanish literature, but I also recognize that learning any foreign language opens up opportunities broader than any single discipline or area of interest. Students who study Spanish at Transylvania will be able to use the linguistic ability they acquire in countless fields, whether they travel to Spanish-speaking countries or remain here in the U.S.”
Areas of research
- Medieval and Early Modern Iberian literature in Spanish, Portuguese, and Catalan
- History of emotion
- Theories of community
- Literature and theology