Modern Languages

The Xavier University department of modern languages offers majors and minors in French, German, and Spanish. Additional classes in American Sign Language, Arabic, Italian, and Japanese are available for fulfilling core requirements.

The department strives to educate students to become sensitive and responsive participants in today's diverse, multi-cultural, global society. Thus, in keeping with the Ignatian and Jesuit educational tradition, the department views the process of language learning as an intellectual pursuit valuable in itself as it helps to form persons who are increasingly aware of their own as well as others' cultural orientation biases. Emphasis is placed on the skills of reading, writing, speaking, and understanding languages and their cultural contexts in order to achieve linguistic and cultural proficiency.

Whether pursued as a sequence in the university core requirement for languages study ("six hours after placement with a goal of reaching intermediate proficiency") or as a major or minor field of study, some measure of proficiency in a second language constitutes an essential part of a liberal arts education. The faculty in modern languages, therefore, endeavors to:

  • Develop communication skills in the target languages
  • Encourage empathy for and understanding of different cultures and peoples
  • Heighten recognition of the contributions of other cultures to contemporary society through the study of their histories, literatures, and languages
  • Continue that long tradition of Jesuit educational philosophy, which stresses the study of languages other than one's native tongue as an important humanistic and humanizing element
  • To strengthen and broaden the background of all Xavier students, a liberal arts core curriculum consisting of courses in history, literature, mathematics, languages, philosophy, science, social science, fine arts and theology is required in addition to courses in the modern languages major.

3 Cool Classes

Berlin: Evolving Perspectives

Walk alongside literary greats and watch how the city of Berlin evolves before your eyes.  Here, we will trace the story of Berlin beginning in the nineteenth century up through the present.  Alongside the historical and cultural developments of the city, we will investigate how the processes of vieing and imagining the city also evolve.  The importance of the questions raised by such an analysis does not simply lie in the past, but more importantly reflects the issues of today as society continues to become one with an increasing number of urban spaces.  We will consider texts and films from E.T.A. Hoffmann, Fontane, Kaminer, and Wenders.

French Literature and Moral Imagination

This course is designed to contribute to the Ethics, Religion and Society focus of the core curriculum. Students will study the English novelist George Meredith's essay on comedy and the French philosopher Henri Bergson's analysis of what makes humans laugh and, then, see how these analyses are played out in the comedies of the classical French comic genius, Moliere, one of the greatest comic playwrights of all time who represented timeless models of human vice and folly as he exposed social and political issues to ridicule. Indeed, he states that the greatest rule of comedy was to "plaire" or be pleasing, but at the same time, to "corriger les vices des hommes," to correct human vices. Several of his "comedies of manners" and "comedies of character" will be studied and discussions will focus on the universal aspect of the societal or personal problem or foible that is being held up to ridicule. Continual reference will be made to the contemporary social scene and to the "masks" worn by people today.

20th Century Spanish Literature

Representative authors and genres from the Generation of 1898 to the present day.