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Senior Marquis Scholar Amy Mish of Johnstown, Pa., a graduate of Westmont Hilltop H.S., is a mathematics-economics major, but the research she is doing with Michelle Geoffrion-Vinci is taking her to an entirely different world.

Mish is helping Geoffrion-Vinci, assistant professor of foreign languages and literatures, prepare a translation with scholarly introduction of the 1884 collection En las orillas del Sar (On the Shores of the River Sar) of Spanish poet Rosalía de Castro.

Mish, who honed her Spanish skills while studying in Madrid last fall, is participating in Lafayette’s EXCEL Scholars program, in which students collaborate closely with faculty members on research projects while earning a stipend. She is helping Geoffrion-Vinci edit the translations the professor has already completed, translating some poems herself, and assisting with the organization and writing of the scholarly introduction.

“I couldn’t be happier with Amy’s command of the language,” Geoffrion-Vinci says. “She appreciates the nuances and intricacies of Spanish. This is a great way for her to stretch her talents. Although she is a math-economics major, Lafayette gives her the opportunity to pursue another scholarly opportunity.”

Mish says, “This project has given me an opportunity to continue to practice my Spanish. Retaining my knowledge of the Spanish language has been very rewarding, and this is helping me expand my vocabulary, too.

“Lafayette provides a wonderful learning environment for a project like this,” she continues. “Professor Geoffrion-Vinci approached me with the idea for this work, and there are many other professors who work with students on research projects. I feel that Lafayette also has excellent academic resources.”

Though Castro’s work, which “often broke completely with the traditional structural protocols of 19th-century Spanish verse-writing,” was criticized during her lifetime, the poet is enjoying a re-examination by scholars who approach her poetry with a point of view informed by gender and cultural context, Geoffrion-Vinci says.

“No longer is her innovative style seen as graceless and slipshod. Rather, we now know it to be singularly ahead of its time in artfulness and creativity,” she says. She is also writing a book, Between the Maternal Aegis and the Abyss: Female Symbolism in the Poetry of Rosalía de Castro, that examines the critical elements of Castro’s poetry and the ways in which the author employs her works to construct radical new parameters for feminine subjectivity, cultural identity, and political protest. Mish collaborated with Geoffrion-Vinci on that project last summer.

Geoffrion-Vinci teaches courses on Spanish literature and civilization from the 18th century to the present and such language classes as Intermediate Spanish, Advanced Composition and Conversation, and Business Spanish. A member of Lafayette’s Women’s Studies Advisory Committee, she is designing an interdepartmental course on Hispanic women’s poetry in translation and the impact of gender on poetic production.

Geoffrion-Vinci has participated in several projects aimed at enriching the classroom language-learning experience through technology. She has developed interactive computer programs for beginning, intermediate, and advanced Spanish courses using XMedia Engine, PowerPoint, and the Internet. In Advanced Spanish she uses a program which she designed entitled “¿Cómo se analiza un poema en español?/How to analyze poetry in Spanish.”

Mish is a member of the Delta Gamma sorority.

Categorized in: Academic News