Every few weeks, the AATSP “spotlights” one of its members in an attempt to recognize the many ways in which AATSP members promote the study and teaching of Spanish and Portuguese at all levels of education. We invite you to read the current spotlight below. You can also click at the bottom of this page to view archived spotlights.
California State University, Los Angeles
My first encounter with the Spanish language happened in 1961, after graduating from high school (with a specialization in math and sciences), when I was admitted to the University of Bucharest, in Romania. This university had recently opened its first program in Hispanic Studies (a BA with a five-year duration), in order to create language specialists able to communicate with Fidel Castro’s Cuba (a sister Communist state). Among the professors hired for this purpose were two Spaniards who took refuge in the former USSR at the end of the Civil War, a Sephardic lady, some former diplomats in the Hispanic countries, who learned the language on the spot, and the preeminent Romance linguistics scholar Iorgu Iordan, who was the founder of the program and our mentor. I had learned French and English at home and in school, and I was curious to acquire a new language, one that practically nobody spoke in my country. And I was hooked forever! We were very few (my class had only 5 students!). We practically had no books, no dictionaries, and just one edition of the Quijote in the library (which we studied for two semesters), but we were enthusiastic and eager to make a difference. And what a difference we made, indeed! We wrote textbooks, dictionaries, grammars, translation guidelines, and conversation guides. We also published scholarly studies on Hispanic linguistics and literatures, taught Spanish on national television, created a cultural program in Spanish, interpreted for international conferences, and translated numerous literary works by the most famous Spanish and Latin American writers into Romanian. I am very proud of what my former classmates and I achieved for the promotion of Spanish in Romania, which now has numerous schools in which everything is taught in Spanish (it has become the second language studied in the country, after English, pushing way back the once favored study of French and German).
The first time I went to Spain, in 1968, to attend the Summer Graduate Courses for Foreign Students in Malaga, was a true revelation, because I had the chance to study with great scholars, such as Manuel Alvar, Humberto López Morales, Margherita Morreale, Bernard Pottier, and many others, who further opened my eyes to the treasures of the Spanish language and culture. And little by little, in spite of the enormous difficulties to travel abroad under the communist regime, I started establishing myself at the conferences I was able to attend as a young and promising Hispanist from behind the Iron Curtain.
When I came to the United States, in 1984, I was fortunate enough to have support from some American scholars who knew me and to continue working in my profession, first as a Teaching Assistant at USC, and then at California State University Los Angeles, where I was hired as an ABD in 1987. One of the best decisions I made, soon after arriving in this country, was to join the AATSP in 1985. Again, I was hooked! And have been faithful to this second love ever since, attending almost every annual meeting, many local chapter meetings, and serving the organization in several capacities over time. I am not going to go into details, but the AATSP was my best introduction to and then support for my development within the American scholarly world which I now belong to and cherish. I had, of course, other wonderful experiences, such as being a Fulbright Scholar in Argentina, attending almost all of the meetings of the International Association of Hispanists (where I first met Emily Spinelli), giving talks in Spain, Costa Rica, Sweden, and other countries, etc., but the AATSP holds a special place in my heart, and always will.
Domnita Dumitrescu (Diploma in Spanish from the University of Bucharest; MA and PhD in Hispanic linguistics from the University of Southern California) taught at California State University, Los Angeles from 1987 to 2016. She is currently an emerita professor of Spanish linguistics. Before coming to the United States, she was a tenured professor of Spanish at the University of Bucharest, Romania, and she also taught, as an invited lecturer, at the University of California at Irvine and the University of Southern California. She was a Fulbright scholar in Argentina in 1993, teaching at several Argentinian institutions of higher education, including the Universities of Buenos Aires, Tucumán, Del Comahue, and San Juan, and she lectured at several universities abroad, including the University of Costa Rica, the University of Alicante, Spain, and the University of Stockholm, Sweden. Her areas of expertise are Spanish pragmatics, language contact between English and Spanish in the United States, socio-pragmatic aspects of Spanish politeness, and comparative studies between Spanish and Romanian, her native language. Her publications include several scholarly books, the most recent of which are Aspects of Spanish Pragmatics (Peter Lang, New York, 2011), El español en los Estados Unidos: E Pluribus Unum? Enfoques multidisciplinarios (co-edition with Gerardo Piña-Rosales, ANLE, New York, 2013) and Hablando bien se entiende la gente (co-authorship, Santillana, 2014). She has also authored almost one hundred and fifty book chapters and scholarly articles in peer reviewed journals in her areas of expertise, as well as numerous literary translations (from Spanish into Romanian), and book reviews. Her editorial work includes being first an Associate Editor (in charge of the section on Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian world) and then, since 2011, the Book/Media Review Editor for Hispania, the scholarly journal of the AATSP. She is also on the editorial boards of Journal of Spanish Language Teaching (Routledge), Pragmática sociocultural/Sociocultural Pragmatics (De Gruyter), and Language and Dialogue (John Benjamins).
She participated in hundreds of professional conferences in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Latin America, reading papers, and/or organizing and chairing panels or whole conferences. She is a member of the most prestigious scholarly organizations in her field (often holding elected offices in these organizations), and received numerous recognitions and awards, including the highest awards from Cal State LA (Outstanding Professor and President’s Distinguished Professor in 2004 and 2008), the AATSP (Outstanding Teacher of the Year in 2000), and the National Collegiate Hispanic Honor Society Sigma Delta Pi (the Orders of the Discoverers and of Don Quijote). Her name is included in several Who’s Who reference works, and she is a Full Member of the North American Academy of the Spanish Language, and a corresponding member in the United States of the Royal Academy of the Spanish Language in Spain. She is currently a member of the interacademic commission working on the next (24th) electronic edition of the Dictionary of the Spanish Language (DLE), as a delegate of the North American Academy of the Spanish Language, and a member of the commission working on the Glossary of Grammatical Terms. She is also actively collaborating with the Cervantes Institute’s Observatory of the Spanish Language and Hispanic Cultures in the United States, at Harvard University, where she recently co-directed the creation of an electronic bibliography of all the linguistics publications on US Spanish.
At the same time, she is co-editing (with Patricia Andueza, from the University of Evansville, Indiana) a book titled The Learning of Spanish Pragmatics: From Research to Practice, to be published by Routledge, in the UK, and with Diana Bravo (from the University of Stockholm, Sweden), Roles situacionales, interculturalidad y multiculturalidad en encuentros en español, to be published at Editorial Dunken, in Argentina.
For more information, including a list of her publications, visit her homepage at: www.calstatela.edu/faculty/domnita-dumitrescu
Click below to view archived AATSP Member Spotlights