UC Riverside CHASS Hispanic Studies Professor Elected President of AATSP

By Catherine Szilagyi, Editor Intern of CHASS College Computing

Raymond Williams

Since receiving a one-year scholarship to study abroad in Chilé as an undergraduate student at Washington State University, Professor Raymond Williams has not been able to tear himself away from the discipline of Hispanic Studies. By the end of his year abroad, all his studies were done strictly in Spanish.

Now a Spanish Professor within UCR’s Hispanic Studies department, Professor Williams explains, “I was doing everything in Spanish, I even dreamed in Spanish. That year in Chilé was really very key [to my career].” When he returned, thanks to his experience abroad and helpful mentors, he was set on a career in Hispanic Studies.

Now, the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese (AATSP) has elected Professor Williams as President for 2006, a position to be held for three consecutive years. The AATSP is the oldest, largest, and most comprehensive language-specific professional organization in the United States, reaching across the U.S. and Canada through 70 local chapters and maintaining over 12,500 members. Professor Williams has been a member of the AATSP for just over 30 years now, having become a member during graduate school.

Members of the 80 year-old organization are usually educators or supporters of Hispanic languages, including professors, linguists, and even high school teachers. Their mission is to “promote, develop, and advance the teaching of Hispanic, Luso-Brazilian and related languages, literatures, and cultures in the United States.” Professor Williams’ appointment as President is evidence of his dedicated work. As President he will set the agenda for annual meetings, manage Hispanic research studies, and address issues that currently concern the Spanish-speaking world.

When asked about his goals as President, Professor Williams expressed that, “one of [his] goals is to find a way [that] smaller academic groups can find a place to work under the AATSP and have a place at the annual meetings. Another is to set a place at the annual meetings for the divided Mexicanists in California alongside other groups like the Columbianists, so they have a role in the organization.”

Professor Williams, a specialist in Latin American, particularly Columbian, literature, has been internationally recognized as a scholar of the Colombian novel. He has also founded a group within the AATSP dedicated to the study of Columbian literature. Much of his research explores Latin American narrative since the 1960s, particularly postmodern and feminist fiction. He is currently researching and writing a book on post-World War II novels in Latin America; his most recent book is Mario Vargas Llosa: Otra Historia de un Deicidio.

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