Mary Docter

Mary Docter

Professor of Spanish
Phone: (805) 565-7182
Office Location: Reynolds Hall 201

Office Hours
Spring 2018
On sabbatical leave
and by appointment

Spanish, Latin American


1991 U.C.L.A. Ph.D. (with Distinction), Hispanic Languages and Literatures
1984 U.C.L.A. M.A. (with Highest Honors), Spanish
1981 U.C.L.A. B.A. (Summa cum laude), Spanish


  • “‘With Open Eyes’: Cultivating World Christians Through Intercultural Awareness.” In Transformations at the Edge of the World, ed. Ronald Morgan & Cynthia Smedley. Abilene, Texas: Abilene Christian University Press, May 2010. [co-authored with Laura Montgomery]
  • “Enriched by Otherness: The Transformational Journey of Cabeza de Vaca.”Christianity and Literature 58:1 (Autumn 2008), 3-27
  • “Assessing the Liberal Arts: A Faculty Perspective.”Liberal Arts 6:1 (June 2007), 93-100
  • “To Know the Other.”Journal of Christianity and Foreign Languages 4:1 (Spring 2003), 62-65
  • “José Emilio Pacheco: A Poetics of Reciprocity.”Hispanic Review 71:3 (Summer 2002), 373-92
  • “Faith Teaching Across Cultures.” Word and Deed 3:1 (Fall 2000), 21-42
  • “Death and Resurrection in César Vallejo’s Late Poetry.”   Journal of Christianity and Foreign Languages 1:1 (Spring 2000), 59-73
  • “La piedra y la masa: Un análisis comparativo de dos textos de Vallejo.”  Hispania 72:1 (March 1989), 73-77

Selected Presentations

  • “Using IDI Guided Development to Maximize the Study Abroad Experience: A Case Study”  Intercultural Development Inventory Annual Conference, Minneapolis, Minnesota, October 2010
  • “Strengthening Intercultural Competence Abroad and Back Home.”American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese (AATSP) Annual Meeting, San José, Costa Rica, July 2008
  • “Araceli Ardón: A New Voice From Mexico’s Heartland.” VII Congreso Internacional de Literatura Hispánica (CILH), Cuzco, Peru, March 2008
  • Assessing the Liberal Arts: A Faculty Perspective.” The Seventh Annual Conversation on the Liberal Arts, Westmont College, February 2007
  • “Developing Intercultural Competence: Preparing Students for the Study Abroad Experience”
  •                AATSP Annual Meeting, Salamanca, Spain, June 28-July 1, 2006               
  • "A Case for Cross-Cultural Studies in the Foreign Language Curriculum.” North American Christian Foreign Language Association (NACFLA) Annual Meeting, Baylor College, March-April 2006
  • "The Evolving View of the Indian in Cabeza de Vaca ’s Relación.” Conference on Christianity and Literature (CCL) Western Regional Meeting, Pepperdine University, March 2006
  • Who is My Neighbor?: Towards an Inclusive Theology.” Theology and Ethics Symposium, The Salvation Army Western Territory, May 2003
  • “What’s New in the Lab?” NACFLA Annual Meeting, Calvin College, April 2003
  • Creation, Connection, Community: The Poetry of José Emilio Pacheco.” AATSP Regional Meeting, California State University, Northridge, April 2001
  • “Language at Work: Building a Successful Internship Program.” NACFLA Annual Meeting, Point Loma University, April 2000
  • “Faith Teaching Across Cultures.” International Education Symposium of the Salvation Army, London, England, March 1999
  • Talking Pictures: The Word as Image.”  NACFLA Annual Meeting, Calvin College, April 1997
  • A Community of Voices: The Poetry of José Emilio Pacheco.” NACFLA Annual Meeting, Westmont College, April 1996
  •   “José Emilio Pacheco: A Poetics of Reciprocity.”  Louisiana Conference on Hispanic Languages and Literatures (LA CHISPA) Annual Meeting, Tulane University, March 1995
  • “Bridging the Gap: Creative Communication in a Multicultural Society.”  NACFLA Annual Meeting, Lee College, April 1995
  • “Dreaming Man:  Myth and Archetypes in Jorge Luis Borges’s ‘Las ruinas circulares’.”  NACFLA Annual Meeting, Palm Beach Atlantic College, April 1994
  • “José Emilio Pacheco:  A Poetics of Commitment.”  LA CHISPA Annual Meeting, Tulane University, February 1993
  • “Death and Resurrection in César Vallejo’s España, aparta de mí este cálix.”  NACFLA Annual Meeting, Taylor University, April 1993
  • The Committed Poet: Ethics and Aesthetics in José Emilio Pacheco.”  AATSP Regional Meeting, California State University, Los Angeles, April 1991
  • “The Apocalyptic World of José Emilio Pacheco.”  Mid-America Conference on Hispanic Literature (MACHL) Annual Meeting, University of Kansas, November 1989
  • “El personaje ausente: La visión de la mujer en el Martín Fierro.”  The Woman in Hispanic Literature Symposium, UCLA, February 1989
  • “Isabel Fraire: Expanding Poetic Consciousness.”  AATSP Annual Meeting, Denver, August 1988
  • “La piedra y la masa: Un análisis comparativo de dos textos.”  Simposio Internacional “Vallejo y España” (International Vallejo Symposium), UCLA, April 1988
  • “El duelo con el destino: La identidad en Borges.” Jorge Luis Borges Symposium, UCLA, May 1987

Honors and Awards

  • Teacher of the Year Award, Westmont College, 2004-05
  • Irvine Grant Recipient
    2005-06, Diversity Grant to develop curriculum in cross-cultural studies & intercultural sensitivity training for Spanish & French majors and minors
    2005-06, Diversity Grant to diversify the curriculum in Latin American poetry seminar
    2004-05, Diversity Grant to lead workshop in intercultural sensitivity for faculty and staff
    2003-04, to implement the Westmont in Mexico (WIM) Study Abroad Program
    2001-02, Category III Grant ($33,000) to conduct a feasibility study for a semester-long off-campus program in Mexico and to lead an 11-day faculty enrichment seminar in Mexico
    2000-01, to develop curriculum for Modern Language study abroad orientation and re-entry
  • The Graves Award in the Humanities, administered by Pomona College under the auspices of the American Council of Learned Societies (recipient of $10,000 grant), 1999-2001
  • Teacher of the Year Award, Westmont College, 1997-98
  • Professional Development Grant Recipient (Westmont College):
    1992-93, to conduct projects in South America
    1993-94, to conduct projects in Spain
    1994-95, for film studies course development
    1996-97, for work on book manuscript
    1999-2000, to continue work on editing slides/video
    2002-03, to attend Calvin College Seminars in Christian Scholarship & complete article
  • “Program on Mexico” Grant recipient, UCLA, 1989
    Mabel Wilson Richards Scholarship (for graduate work), 1987, 1988, 1989.
  • Distinguished Teaching Award, UCLA, 1987.
  • Nancy Wing Award, UCLA (for Outstanding Achievement on an M.A. exam), 1985.
  • Phi Beta Kappa
  • Sigma Delta Pi (National Spanish Honor Society)

Research Interests

My principal research interest is 20th century Latin American literature, especially poetry. I am currently writing on José Emilio Pacheco, one of Mexico’s leading poets and thinkers today. I also greatly enjoy Hispanic film and Colonial Latin American literature (especially the writings of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, a 17th century Mexican feminist nun).

Hispanic culture is also one of my passions. Over the past several summers, with the help of various grants, I have enjoyed travelling throughout Spain, South America, Central America, and Mexico in order to interview and record (on video) the oral history of a large cross-section of the population. I spoke with individuals from various social classes, ethnicities, occupations, and ages, and specifically targeted those whose voice might not otherwise be heard - the elders, the marginalized, the poor. This experience has greatly enriched me as a teacher, and has allowed me to bring into the classroom unique multi-media materials (which I continue to compile) to supplement and enhance all of my Spanish courses.

Courses taught

  • All levels of Spanish Language/Grammar (SP 1-4)
  • Advanced Spanish/Composition (SP 100) 
  • Survey of Peninsular Literature I, II (SP 101, 102)
  • Survey of Latin American Literature I, II (SP 103, 104)
  • Hispanic Cultures: Latin America (SP 111)
  • Hispanic Film & Literature (SP 130)
  • Seminar in Contemporary Latin American Poetry (SP 183)
  •   Seminar in 20th Century Latin American Short Story (SP 184)
  • Seminar in 20th Century Latin American Novel (SP 195)
  • Spanish Internship/Practicum (SP 190)
  •   Cross-Cultural Studies (SP/FR 150)
  • Introduction to Westmont in Mexico (IS 192)
  • Engaging Cultures Seminar (taught in Mexico) (IS 195)
  •  Reentry Seminar (IS 197)

       Areas of special emphasis:

  • 20th C. Latin American Literature (poetry & narrative)
  • Colonial Latin American literature
  • Cross-Cultural Studies
  • Romance Linguistics

Intermediate Spanish I & II is a review course in which we delve deeper into the finer points of Spanish grammar. We also read short pieces of literature, essays on Hispanic culture, and write brief compositions. My goal is for students to feel comfortable in the classroom in order to communicate effectively in Spanish. I like to involve every student in the class, and try to make learning the grammar as fun as possible through games, role-playing, creative exercises in the lab (using the web and email), and an abundance of lively in-class conversation.

Advanced Spanish is designed to be a “bridge” course between lower and upper-division Spanish. It is an intensive writing course in which we also review and refine the finer points of Spanish syntax, and begin an introduction to literary analysis (learning how to read and analyze a work of literature). Each student builds a portfolio of their writing - revising, editing and polishing their work both individually and with the help of peer editors in class. Through this process, students learn how to read more critically and to write with greater clarity.

Survey of Latin American Literature to 1885 provides an historical overview of the major authors, genres, and developments in Latin America from the conquest to the late 19th century. To enhance our understanding of the texts, we also study the historical and cultural context in which they were written. Students write several short essays, three exams, and give one formal oral presentation.

Survey of Latin American Literature, 1885 to the Present is a continuation of the previous survey course, focusing on the major authors and developments in Latin American literature from the modernista movement to the present. Short selections from several authors are read and analyzed, including works from Rubén Darío, Gabriela Mistral, Jorge Luis Borges, Pablo Neruda, Juan Rulfo, Octavio Paz, Gabriel García Márquez, and Isabel Allende.

Hispanic Cultures: Latin America introduces students to the principal aspects of Latin American history and culture, focusing especially on the tension that currently exists between the forces of tradition and those of change. Through literature, film, art, and the web, we explore various topics such as social class, ethnicity, the family, gender roles, education, and religion. Students are encouraged to share their own experiences with Latino culture, and each student (with a partner) will give three oral presentations to the class.

Hispanic Film and Literature is a study of Hispanic film as a narrative and visual medium. The course is neither a history of Hispanic film nor a survey of its greatest works, but is rather designed to provide an introduction to the basic concepts of film analysis. We examine the “literary” components of film (plot, theme, symbols, etc.), the visual and formal elements (lighting, editing, camera angles, sound, etc.), as well as the sociological context (e.g. the way women are represented, the role of violence, etc.). We also study the relationship between film and literature through the analysis of works of fiction and their corresponding film adaptations. Through extensive journal writing, reflection, discussion, and several analytical and response papers, students will develop their “visual literacy” and their analytical abilities in “reading” a film, as well as become more discerning viewers of film in any language.

Twentieth-Century Latin American Poetry, Twentieth-Century Latin American Short Story, and Twentieth-Century Latin American Novel are three classes that are similar in that they are more advanced courses taught as a seminar, with greater student input and responsibilities. Each course focuses on the major authors of each genre. In poetry, we examine representative texts from César Vallejo, Pablo Neruda, and Octavio Paz, amongst others. Short story authors include Quiroga, Borges, Rulfo, García Márquez, and recent women writers like Isabel Allende and Luisa Valenzuela. Novelists include Rulfo, Fuentes, García Márquez, Puig, Allende, and others. Students are expected to help teach the class on a regular basis, and write both analytical essays as well as creative response papers, such as original poems and stories to share with the class.

Practicum gives students practical experience outside the university setting in the working world, in which students can use their Spanish in various situations. For example, a student may work in a bilingual school, in a clinic or hospital, in a business, church, or social service agency, to name just a few. A main advantage of this course is that it gives students the opportunity to combine their interest in Spanish language and culture with their other interests or majors like business, communications, medicine, or education. Students keep a journal of their experiences (in which they also reflect upon issues of faith), write essays, and meet weekly with an assigned partner to discuss their progress.