Superhero of Spanish Studies
Professor Salvador Raggio’s Spanish studies courses, all of which are taught in Spanish, are far from stereotypical literature and film classes. With course titles such as “Limits of Normal: Fictions of Otherness and Madness” and “High Tension: Ibero-American Suspense Film,” it isn’t hard to figure out why students go out of their way to have him as a professor. Due to his non-traditional approach to Spanish studies, Raggio’s teaching creates an enticing classroom environment which keeps his students engaged.
Raggio’s desire to expand students’ cultural viewpoints is driven by his Peruvian background. “It is important to have more than just one tradition, one country. You can show students that we live in a globalized world, and that what is going on in the U.S. is not that different from what is going on in different societies,” Raggio says about representing all Spanish-speaking countries. He uses this global perspective to create courses with more diverse outlooks. His expertise on Hispanic culture, in both Spain and Latin America, is centered on the transatlantic perspective between societies.
Raggio is constantly bringing different sources into his teachings. “I don’t only teach Latin America, or only Spain. I teach both at the same time; I try to connect them,” Raggio says, “It doesn’t matter if it’s a film class or a literature class, I use text from almost every country in the Hispanic region because variety is very important to me.” It is not uncommon for Raggio to use television, comic books, YouTube channels, or even Netflix to connect these same concepts to the modern world for his students.
Not only does Raggio teach from multiple media sources, he uses them in his research on media studies and mass culture. Recently he has been studying comic books and the Superhero Paradigm, another transatlantic and transnational concept, that looks closely at the traditional 1930’s “American superhero” and how globalization has brought this American idea across the world and into numerous cultures.
The department and students will miss Raggio, as he will be leaving the University of Minnesota after the spring 2016 semester, after completing two years as a temporary replacement for faculty on sabbaticals. Ultimately, Professor Raggio’s goal is for his students to speak Spanish as if it were their native language, “Students are learning a language in order to communicate in that language, to think in that language. They should be able to speak their mind on any single topic.” This combined with a learned transnational perspective leaves students with an encompassing understanding of Spanish studies.