Spanish Professor Maria Jose Bordera has taken
three J-term trips to Spain.
"I watch students go from shy to confident," says Bordera.
-story by Kaitlyn Sewell '15
Randolph-Macon College Spanish Professor Maria
José Bordera is a scholar, traveler and mentor. This fall, she will spend her sabbatical
updating her dissertation in order to turn it into a book manuscript.
“I am studying the institution of the family during Francisco Franco’s dictatorship
during the 20th century in Spain as a representation of the nation and the cultural
identity of Spain,” says Bordera, who will present her work at the Pennsylvania
Conference of Romance Languages in September 2013. “By studying the different political
and figurative meanings of the institution of the family in both literature and
film, I have been able to understand the political and cultural evolution of Spain.”
This summer, Bordera is working on her spring 2014 syllabi, particularly the syllabus
for a new course at Randolph-Macon, The Literature and Culture of the Spanish Golden
In this class students will be exposed to both the culture and literature of 16th
and 17th century Spain and will have the opportunity to read literary masterpieces,
such as Miguel de Cervantes’s Don Quixote de la Mancha, that have contributed
to shaping Spanish literature as we know it today.
Bordera earned her B.A. in her hometown of Alicante, Spain. She worked in Ireland
as a teaching assistant, and, after being encouraged by friends to further her education
in America, earned her Ph.D. at The University of Pennsylvania. She joined the R-MC
faculty in 2004.
Adjusting to a new culture was challenging at times, but Bordera found the R-MC
community to be warm and welcoming.
“Education Professor Brenda Davis was especially
helpful to me,” says Bordera. “She served as my mentor in the Higgins Academic Fellows
Program,” Bordera shares. The Higgins Academic Fellows are in charge of welcoming
new faculty and help guide them into adjusting to life at R-MC.
“Brenda met with me as many times as needed to make sure I was adjusting well to
the college both academically and personally,” recalls Bordera. “Because of her
mentorship, I became interested in the Committee on the Admissions, Credits, and
Academic Status of Students, and I have served on this committee for six years.”
Teaching and Mentorship
Bordera specializes in 20th and 21st century Spanish literature and culture, and
enjoys researching topics in immigration and Spanish film and music. She is currently
studying Spanish actor Alfredo Landa’s career impact on—and exemplification of—the
evolution of the Spanish culture and national identity in the 20th century.
“He was caught up in so many controversies and is very interesting to me,” says
Bordera. “I am watching his films, and through them, learning more about the culture
and politics of Spain.”
Bordera teaches a wide range of Spanish courses, and she has taught two First-Year
Experience (FYE) courses: Far From Home: Immigrant
Children and Families in the U.S. (team-taught with
Psychology Professor Susan Parker), and Babies, Tweens and Teens (team-taught
with History Professor Anne Throckmorton). In
addition, she has taken three January Term (J-term)
trips to Spain, where she and her students visited Madrid, Toledo, Segovia and Granada.
They also attended some college classes in her hometown.
“It was great to share with my students my hometown,” she says. “One of the most
rewarding aspects of these trips is seeing students become more proficient in Spanish
and more comfortable with a new culture. In fact, some of them were so in love with
Spain that they have expressed an interest in going back. When they feel this passionate
about my home country and culture, I feel very accomplished.” Bordera has mentored
many Spanish-major students, an experience she considers gratifying.
“I watch students go from shy to confident,” she says. “I am especially proud that
one of my advisees, Andy Martin ’11, is now teaching Spanish at
Hanover County Public Schools and Rockbridge County Public Schools.”
Due to her international academic and cultural experiences, Bordera offers student
advice from a unique angle.
“Be yourself, be collegial, be good at what you do,” Bordera shares. She believes
that the fear of the unknown holds many people back, and she encourages students
to travel and make the most of their education. “Don’t be afraid to get out of your
comfort zone,” she says.