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Language Laboratory

English-Modern Languages

Mary Blackwood Collier
Mary Docter
Leonor Elías

Westmont College
Modern Languages
955 La Paz Road
Santa Barbara, CA 93108

Dr. Leonor Elías
Professor of Spanish

Phone: 805.565.7379
Campus Address: Reynolds Hall

My brother and I were born and raised in Monterrey, Mexico. Although we were raised in Mexico, we grew up with two different cultures, languages, and religious traditions. My father is from Mexico and my mother is from Germany. It is probably because of my background that I have always been interested in people from different parts of the world, and have made an attempt to learn about their language and literature. After high school, I spent two years living and taking courses in England. As an undergraduate at Middlebury, I spent a winter term as a video reporter in the former Soviet Union. As a graduate student, I spent a year in Madrid, Spain. Just a few years ago, I spent a summer at the Universita per Stranieri in Siena, Italy, learning the Italian language and reading its literature. I now live in Westmont faculty housing at Las Barrancas with my husband, Rick Marcellin, an investment advisor with Merrill Lynch, our son, Roger Joseph, and Pepita, our King Charles spaniel. We attend All Saints-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church, where I am a Lay Eucharistic Minister. Since arriving at Westmont in the fall of 1999 I have tried to use my experiences in living in so many different parts of the world to teach my students the importance of communicating with people from other places so that they are able to listen, share, learn and care for each other.


The University of Texas at Austin Ph.D. in Hispanic Literature (1998)
Fields of Concentration: Golden Age Literature, Spanish Theater throughout the Ages, Colonial Literature
Middlebury College, Madrid M.A. in Hispanic Literature (1991)
Middlebury College, Vermont B.A. (1990) - Cum Laude
Double Major: English Literature and German Literature, Honors

Dissertation and Awards

Calderón's Literary and Political Thought in Duelos de amor y lealtad
Selected by the Spanish and Portuguese Department for the 1999 Doctoral Dissertation Award
Awarded Honorable Mention for the 1999 Doctoral Dissertation Awards of the University of Texas at Austin


Native proficiency: Spanish, English, and German
Advanced reading, writing, and speaking: Italian

Teaching Experience

Assistant Professor, Westmont College, 1999
Lecturer, The University of Texas at Austin, 1999
Assistant Instructor of Spanish, The University of Texas at Austin, 1991-1996, nominated for the Excellence in Teaching Award
Assistant Instructor of Spanish, The University of Texas, Pan-American, 1991, taught Spanish courses for bilinguals/heritage speakers

Research Interests

My research interests are Spanish Golden Age Theater, also known as 'comedia nueva,' 20th century Peninsular Literature and Film.


At Westmont I teach:

Elementary Spanish 1 and 2 gives an ordered introduction to Spanish grammar and vocabulary. The basic language skills that the student develops are listening, speaking, reading and writing. The course integrates cultural information to enhance a deeper understanding of the cultures of the Spanish-speaking world. The entire class is conducted in Spanish and students are expected to communicate only in the target language. The new grammar structures and vocabulary are reinforced and practiced in a variety of meaningful, creative and real-world situations.

Intermediate Spanish 3 and 4 offers an overview of first-year grammar and introduces more complex structures and vocabulary. Students continue to develop their listening, speaking, reading and writing skills as well as gaining a more in-depth knowledge of Hispanic cultures. Grammar explanations are followed by practice in contextualized and communication-based activities.

Advanced Spanish prepares students for upper-division courses. It reviews the more complex structures of Spanish grammar and incorporates a vocabulary building program. In addition, a major component of the course is dedicated to the development of formal writing. Students read short literary texts and respond to them in essays in which they narrate, describe, explain, analyze, hypothesize, and argue an opinion.

Survey of Spanish Literature, Middle Ages to 1700 studies the development of Spanish Literature throughout the Middle Ages and the Golden Age of Spain. Representative works of drama, prose and poetry are read and studied in their historical and literary context. The course is designed to perfect the student's skills in literary analysis and critical writing. In addition, students are expected to consolidate and expand their Spanish language skills.

Survey of Spanish Literature, 1700 to the Present studies the development of Spanish Literature from the 17th to the 20th Century. Representative works of drama, prose and poetry are read and studied in the context of the period's principal literary movements. The course is designed to perfect the student's skills in literary analysis and critical writing. In addition, students are expected to consolidate and expand their Spanish language skills.

Hispanic cultures: Spain introduces the student to the history and culture of Spain. The periods we cover range from the first settlements of the Iberian Peninsula to contemporary Spain. The aim is to acquaint students with the different autonomous regions of Spain and the most significant historical events and figures of Spanish politics, literature, art, etc. Each student is required to give three major oral presentations.

SP171 Study of the history and literature of the Spanish Civil War and the dictatorship of Franco. Works by major novelists, including Cela, Delibes, and Laforet and playwrights, including Buero-Vallejo and Sastre, comprise the texts for this course. In addition films by Camus, Cuerda, and Erice will be viewed and discussed.

Golden Age Literature is a course in which students read and discuss representative works of prose, drama and theater of the Golden Age of Spain (16th and 17th Century). Authors included are Cervantes, Lope de Vega, Tirso de Molina, Calderón de la Barca, Góngora, and Quevedo. The student focuses on a close textual interpretation of the works and closely examines them in the political, social, religious and philosophical context of Spain's Golden Age. As a seminar, this class requires active student participation and discussion.

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