The mission of the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures (MLL) is to enable students to develop the communication and analytical skills that will deepen their understanding of languages and cultures in their uniqueness and diversity, and to invite reflection on the literary traditions, societies, and cultural productions represented by the eight disciplines of the department: Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Russian, and Spanish.
MLL offers language, literature, culture, and cinema courses. Though literature and culture courses are typically taught in the target languages, MLL also offers a range of courses taught in English, along with select courses focused on creative writing, the practice of translation, second-language acquisition, and community-engaged learning. In addition, the MLL curriculum often supports interdisciplinary programs, including Asian and Middle East Studies, Comparative World Literature, International Studies, Islamic Civilizations and Cultures, Latinx Studies, and Women and Gender Studies.
Aligned with the mission of Kenyon College, MLL considers competency in at least one foreign language to be a foundational component of a liberal arts education for many reasons. Among these, language study:
• Allows for the study of cultural production in the target language across many disciplines.
• Increases understanding of one’s own first language and of language in general.
• Provides insight into other cultures and cultural differences in a global context.
• Fosters a skill set and experiences leading to professional programs and careers.
• Requires learning strategies that reinforce structured learning more broadly.
MLL has developed a curriculum that promotes the intellectual growth of students through the following interrelated goals:
• In the context of the GEAR discussion, we evaluate ways that our evolving pedagogical techniques will help our students’ papers and oral presentations meet the literacy goals of the department and the College, including more frequent short assignments; changing the focus of guided group work; refining our feedback to students, etc.;
• In the context of the DOAR discussion, we interpret patterns in student research skills and synthetic writing in more advanced courses, with a view toward better understanding how to help students achieve more sophisticated levels of analysis, research, and reflection;
• In the context of the MLL Capstone discussion, we reassess the criteria and results in order to improve mentoring and foster independent learning in our majors by organizing, synthesizing, and understanding implications of their studies of theories, texts, and historical and contemporary human interactions. The annotated bibliography of the prospectus and multiple drafts encourage rigor in research skills, and we schedule mandatory meetings and workshops for all seniors with LBIS and the Career Development Office, so that they understand and develop their digital portfolios with the goal of applying the Capstone experience after graduation;
• CAPE and similar testing instruments, like STAMP, are periodically evaluated both to see how our teaching can improve students’ results, and to ensure that the test mechanisms remain valuable in changing pedagogical circumstances;
Updated fall 2019