Spanish Languages and Literatures

The University of Toronto offers a wide selection of courses on the literatures of Spain and Spanish America: medieval Spanish literature; early modern prose, verse and drama; the modern novel, short story, poetry, drama and film.

Brief historical introduction

Spanish studies at the University of Toronto are mainly, but by no means exclusively, concerned with the language and literature of the Spanish-speaking peoples. Courses in Hispanic linguistics, in business Spanish, in the history and structure of the Spanish language and literature are complemented by studies of the social, artistic, and intellectual history of both Spain and Spanish-America. Spanish and Portuguese form part of the interdisciplinary programs in European Studies and Ibero-American Studies.

The University of Toronto offers a wide selection of courses on the literatures of Spain and Spanish America: medieval Spanish literature; early modern prose, verse and drama; the modern novel, short story, poetry, drama and film. In all years, the works are read and discussed not only in terms of their individual artistic value but also as illustrations of the outlook and the intellectual climate of their age.

The Department of Spanish and Portuguese now offers graduate courses leading to two degrees: Master of Arts (M.A.) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

[source: extracted from the Department of Spanish and Portuguese web site [www.spanport.utoronto.ca] [accessed 23 February 2016]]

Collections overview

The study of modern languages and literatures was introduced at the University of Toronto in the mid-19th century.  The years after the arrival in the University of Professor Milton Alexander Buchanan in 1906 brought about a tremendous increase in the scope of Spanish language studies here, as Buchanan engaged in a rare combination of literary criticism scholarship and a keen interest in bibliographic matters. Buchanan built himself a respectable collection of Spanish and Italian drama, and wrote manuals and catalogues of the holdings. That collection would eventually be donated to the University of Toronto Library, together with a legacy of scholarships endowed by Professor Buchanan for study and research, as well as a generous endowment for the support of library collections in Spanish and Italian studies. Professor Buchanan’s brilliant career, his leadership as the Chair of the Department of Italian and Spanish in 1917, his presence as president of the Modern Languages Association of America in 1932, his fellowship in the Royal Society and Canada, and his many other achievements put the Spanish studies at the University of Toronto in the international map, and cemented the creation of noteworthy collections in our Library.

 By 1954 Emilio Gorgio, professor at the Department of Italian and Spanish  Studies, could write: “it may be said without hesitation that our collection of Italian and Spanish books is the best in Canada and one of the largest and most complete on the North American continent.

Collection in Spanish studies at UTL continued in earnest in the 1960s as part of the growth in higher education in Ontario and the rapid increase in the number of doctoral programmes and candidates at the University of Toronto. 1973 was a milestone, the year in which the current Department of  Spanish and Portuguese was established as an independent unit (formerly together with Italian), and also the year of the official opening of Robarts Library, at the time the largest academic library building in the world.

Parallel with the growth of the collections in Spanish literature and criticism at the University of Toronto Libraries came that of Catalan. Two names are associated with the study of Catalan language and literature in North America: Joan Coromines in Chicago, and his foremost disciple and collaborator, Joseph Gulsoy, in Toronto. Professor Gulsoy’s indefatigable labour in the fields of Catalan and Valencian lexicography and dialectology brought international reputation to the University of Toronto, and a doctoral program in Catalan was instituted here. The Libraries were integral part in such developments and our Catalan collections soon flourished and became, with those at University of Chicago, the best collections of Catalan materials outside of Spain, and can compete in quality with the best in the Peninsula. When the doctoral program folded at professor Gulsoy’s retirement the University of Toronto Libraries decided to continue to collect in strength, and our Catalan collections continue to support research and scholarship with visitors from all over the world. Professor emeritus Dr. Gulsoy, now in his 90s, continues his research in Catalan and Valencian lexicography with an impressive output that, as he himself admits, is only possible with the support of the Libraries and collections.

Collections in Spanish and Catalan at the University of Toronto Libraries provide the necessary resources for the Department’s graduate and undergraduate programmes, as well as being a complementary resource in the programmes in Comparative Literature, Drama, History, History of Art, History and Philosophy of Science and Technology, Linguistics, Medieval Studies, Music and Philosophy.

The Spanish and Catalan studies collections cover a wide range of themes and subjects taught at this University, all literary forms, theory and criticism, with all major and minor authors of all periods being well represented. The Medieval period and the Golden Age are areas of strength we continue to build upon, and we collect in depth in the fields of contemporary literature and criticism. Other areas of collection strength are linguistics, dialectology, the Spanish intellectual tradition, Spanish drama and cinema. In addition, the collections of rare books in Spanish that were the core of the Buchanan collection donated to the Libraries are regularly added to with the help of the funds endowed by professor Buchanan. Spanish materials constitute a significant component of the Libraries’ collections in Fine Art, Classics, Iberian and Muslim archaeology, Medieval philosophy, etc.

Our Spanish collections include monographs and journals, both in print and electronic format, audio-visual materials and an array of online electronic resources.

In the federated environment of the University of Toronto (University of St. Michael’s College, Trinity College, Victoria University, Emmanuel College, Knox College, etc.) the Library System integrates the collections from all the libraries that exist on the three campuses, covering the full range of subjects that fall within the scope of Spanish Studies at the central Robarts Library, the Thomas Fisher Rare Books and Manuscripts, the Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies, the Kelly Library of the University of St. Michael’s College, the Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies and the Pratt Library at Victoria University. Some materials in Spanish studies are also present at the University’s east and west campuses, Scarborough and Mississauga, respectively.

Acquisitions

The University of Toronto Libraries maintain comprehensive materials-acquisition approval plans with book dealers and vendors worldwide. These plans ensure that the Library receives materials from publishers all over the world in a timely and efficient manner. In support of Spanish studies, we specifically receive books through plans with our agents in Spain, Latin America and throughout the world, materials published in all languages. In addition to these plans our bibliographers selects unique and related scholarly materials not covered by the approval plans. These additional selections include contributions to the collections of the Thomas Fisher Rare Books and Manuscripts Library, the Pontifical Institute for Mediaeval Studies, the Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, and any special requests from faculty, students and patrons at large.

Collections are acquired in all formats to meet the variety of preferences and styles of our current students and faculty. The University of Toronto Libraries are committed to collecting both print and electronic materials in support of Spanish studies at the University.  Our audio-visual collections include stage performances, readings of poetry and fiction, documentaries relevant to the study of Spanish- and Catalan-language belles-lettres, cinema and music.

Teaching and research support

The Library plays an important role in the teaching and research in Spanish studies at the University. Information literacy instruction is offered to assist in meeting B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. degree level expectations in the ability to gather, evaluate and interpret information through program-specific instruction. Upon request, the bibliographer for Spanish studies provides personalized assistance ranging from specific assignment support to graduate and postgraduate research needs.  The Scholarly Communications and Copyright Office helps the faculty and students in Spanish studies through their course reserve and syllabus service, guidance and advice on obtaining copyright permissions, compliance for film screenings, and tailored research, workshops or presentations on a variety of topics such as copyright, open access, author rights, licensing and permissions assistance, as well as research metrics.

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Selection area reference: 
Miguel Torrens