Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures

  • Donor establishes endowed scholarship honoring Liliana and Marcelo Benveniste

    A new scholarship is now available for students majoring or minoring in Spanish in the Department of World Languages and Literatures at UAB.

    A new scholarship is now available for students majoring or minoring in Spanish in the Department of World Languages and Literatures at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). An anonymous donor recently established the Sefarad Endowed Scholarship Honoring Liliana and Marcelo Benveniste in celebration of the Department’s 50th anniversary during the 2022-2023 academic year.

    The scholarship is named in honor of Liliana and Marcelo Benveniste who founded Centro Cultural Sefarad (Sepharad Cultural Center), a non-profit organization based in Argentina whose objective is to promote the culture of Sephardic Jews through activities, courses, concerts, and more. In the 15th Century, a royal edict in Spain forced Jews to either convert to Catholicism or face expulsion. After their expulsion from the Iberian Peninsula, the dispersed Jews maintained a strong relationship to their Iberian traditions, customs, and the Spanish language from that time. “Sepharad” is the Hebrew word for Spain, which is why descendants of these Jews are known as “Sephardic Jews.” The Benvenistes and the Sepharad Cultural Center aim to highlight the universal values of the Sephardic community and Judeo-Spanish languages, including Ladino.

    “It is wonderful that the donor chose to honor Liliana and Marcelo Benveniste because their Sepharad Cultural Center promotes the endangered languages and culture of the Sephardic diaspora not only in Argentina by also worldwide,” says John K. Moore Jr., Ph.D., professor of Spanish in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures. “It is even more meaningful that this award celebrates the rich cultural heritage of the Sephardic Jews alongside the achievements of UAB's Spanish students.”

    The mission of the UAB Department of World Languages and Literatures is to educate, motivate, and inspire students to interact with people from other nations and/or cultures in a multiplicity of languages; to develop linguistically proficient and culturally competent individuals who think critically and communicate effectively in local, national, and global communities; and to foster the international exchange of knowledge and information between humanities scholar-teachers and other professionals. For students interested in the Spanish language, the department offers a concentration in Spanish, a concentration in Applied Professional Spanish, as well as minors in Spanish and Spanish for Business. This new scholarship will honor the legacy and impact of Liliana and Marcelo Benveniste and support students as they pursue studies in the Spanish language.

  • Celebrate 15 books authored by CAS faculty in 2021

    Writing a book isn’t easy, but faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences produced more than a dozen in 2021. Thirteen faculty from eight departments wrote books on rhetoric and the Dead Sea Scrolls, pandemic bioethics, medical epigenetics, world politics and more.

  • Employees recognized at 2021 UAB Service Awards

    Twenty-seven College of Arts and Sciences employees who have worked at UAB for 20 years or more were recognized at the UAB Service Awards reception on April 11, 2022.

    Dean Kecia M. Thomas with Kim Hazelwood at the UAB Service Awards reception.Twenty-seven College of Arts and Sciences employees who have worked at UAB for 20 years or more were recognized at the UAB Service Awards reception on April 11, 2022. These dedicated colleagues were honored for their number of years of employment at UAB as of December 31, 2021.


    The UAB Service Awards are given to active employees beginning at five years of employment and at each five-year milestone. Employees who reach 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, and 45 years of service are invited to a reception on behalf of UAB President Ray L. Watts and presented with a service award pin, certificate, and a gift of gratitude.


    This year, Dr. Vithal K. Ghanta, professor in the Department of Biology and co-director of the Undergraduate Immunology Program, was honored for 50 years of service to UAB. Dr. Gregory Pence, professor in the Department of Philosophy and director of the Early Medical School Acceptance Program, was honored for 45 years of service. Congratulations to all our colleagues for their dedication and commitment to the University’s mission and vision.

    50-Year Recipient: Dr. Vithal K. Ghanta, professor in the Department of Biology

    20-Year Recipients

    • Kimberly H. Hazelwood, College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Office
    • Erin Wright, Art and Art History
    • Tanja Matthews, Chemistry
    • Dr. Jacqueline Nikles, Chemistry
    • Daniel L. Butcher, English
    • Dr. Gale M. Temple, English
    • Dr. Lourdes M. Sanchez-Lopez, Foreign Languages and Literatures
    • Dr. Stephen J. Miller, History
    • Dr. John Heith Copes, Criminal Justice
    • Dr. Reinhard E. Fambrough, Music
    • Dr. Gitendra Uswatte, Psychology
    45-Year Recipient: Dr. Gregory E. Pence, professor in the Department of Philosophy

    25-Year Recipients

    • James R. Grimes, Advising
    • Margaret Amsler, Biology
    • Leslie C. Hendon, Biology
    • Adriana S. Addison, Psychology
    • Dr. Karlene K. Ball, Psychology
    • Wanda R. Fisher, Psychology
    • Pamela Y. Robinson, Psychology

    30-Year Recipients

    • Dr. Tracy P. Hamilton, Chemistry
    • Dr. Kathryn D. Morgan, Criminal Justice and African American Studies
    • Kimberly A. Schnormeier, Theatre

    35-Year Recipients

    • Dr. Edwin W. Cook III, Psychology
    • Dr. Edward Taub, Psychology

    40-Year Recipients

    • Dr. Howard L. Irving, Music
    • Dr. Franklin R. Amthor, Psychology

    45-Year Recipient

    • Dr. Gregory E. Pence, Philosophy

    50-Year Recipient

    • Dr. Vithal K. Ghanta, Biology

  • Dang’s accomplished UAB experience culminates with presenting at Posters on the Hill

    Derek Dang, graduating from UAB with honors, will present to legislators at the prestigious Posters on the Hill event, hosted by the Council on Undergraduate Research.

  • Ho’s multidisciplinary UAB journey concludes with memories, career preparedness, honors and awards

    Michael Ho’s multidisciplinary degree is supplemented by extensive campus involvement, academic excellence, and national recognition.

  • Seven students receive 2022 Dean’s Awards for Outstanding Undergraduate and Graduate Students

    Each academic year, the UAB College of Arts and Sciences receives departmental nominations for the Dean’s Awards for Outstanding Undergraduate Students and Outstanding Graduate Students.

    Each academic year, the UAB College of Arts and Sciences receives departmental nominations for the Dean’s Awards for Outstanding Undergraduate Students and Outstanding Graduate Students. The dean’s selection committee gives these awards to exceptional undergraduate and graduate students in the College who have made significant contributions to the UAB community.

    After carefully reviewing the 2022 nominations—which include detailed recommendation letters from faculty members and mentors—Dean Kecia M. Thomas, Ph.D., and her committee have selected four undergraduate students and three graduate students for the awards. At the upcoming 2022 commencement ceremonies, the College will acknowledge and celebrate the recipients.

    Congratulations to the following students for receiving this prestigious award:

    2022 Undergraduate Dean’s Awards

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    2022 Graduate Dean’s Awards

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  • College of Arts and Sciences offering two new minors

    The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s (UAB) College of Arts and Science is offering two new minors for undergraduate students.

    The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s (UAB) College of Arts and Science is offering two new minors for undergraduate students.

    The Department of Political Science and Public Administration recently launched the Public Management and Policy Minor. According to Rob Blanton, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Political Science and Public Administration (PSPA), “The department’s Master of Public Administration (MPA) program has a long history of providing graduate and professional students some of the necessary skills to succeed in the management of public and nonprofit organizations, two large and vibrant sectors within our economy.” PSPA faculty reflected on the MPA program’s successes and established a clear goal for the new minor: to build some of the same key skills and competencies for undergraduate students. The minor can thus provide a strong foundation for future graduate work in public management or give students valuable skills to help them in their career journeys.

    The College is also excited to announce the new Ancient, Medieval, and Renaissance Studies Minor. This minor is focused on material, intellectual, sociopolitical, literary, and linguistic approaches to the Ancient, Medieval, and Renaissance periods. According to Walter Ward, Ph.D., professor in the Department of History, “Students will learn current theories and methods for working with a range of source materials and objects, from archaeological finds and architecture to historical documents and poetry.” The interdisciplinary program combines the fields of history, literature, archaeology, anthropology, art history, philosophy, cultural studies, economics, and more to understand the premodern world. All courses are taught by faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences.

    You can learn more about both programs by visiting the Undergraduate Course Catalog Addenda. Also, for more information about the Public Management and Policy Minor, you can email Dr. Blanton at For more information about the Ancient, Medieval, and Renaissance Studies Minor, you can contact Dr. Ward ( or Dr. Clements (

  • Applied Professional Spanish students build awareness and skills through service-learning partnership

    Students are applying their knowledge and skills in real-world settings through a collaborative service-learning partnership between the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures and the Alabama Interfaith Refugee Partnership (ALIRP).

    Students in the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s (UAB) College of Arts and Sciences are applying their knowledge and skills in real-world settings through a collaborative service-learning partnership between the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures and the Alabama Interfaith Refugee Partnership (ALIRP).

    In Fall 2021, Lourdes Sánchez-López, Ph.D, professor of Spanish in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, taught SPA 485 Spanish for Leadership at the Workplace, a capstone course for the Applied Professional Spanish major concentration. In the course, students develop leadership skills, explore career pathways, and practice their applied professional Spanish through service-learning. Since the course has a strong emphasis on service-learning, Sánchez-López connects students with well-established community partners to explore and transform Birmingham’s linguistic landscape. By doing so, the students—alongside the community partner(s)—make public spaces more accessible, inclusive, and welcoming to the Spanish-speaking community.

    In the fall, Sánchez-López connected 15 of her students with the ALIRP, an interfaith group of religious leaders and laypersons who help refugees and asylum-seekers. Throughout the semester, students translated the organization’s website and other resources to Spanish to make the information accessible to ALIRP´s Spanish-speaking refugee families—many of which are from Central America—as well as for Spanish-speaking volunteers.

    “This service-learning project is meaningful, and it contributes greatly to the transformation of Birmingham´s linguistic landscape,” said Sánchez-López. “The Applied Professional Spanish students made an important contribution in our joint journey to more equitable access to resources for all. I am very proud of each one of them.”

    One of the course objectives for SPA 485 is for students “to acquire a more profound understanding and appreciation of one´s own community.” According to Lindi Deboer, a recent UAB alumna who participated in SPA 485, the course clearly achieved that goal.

    “My time working with the ALIRP was a humbling and rewarding experience. I was able to learn about the pressing issues impacting immigrant families, as well as the support the ALIRP gives them,” said Deboer. “As a Spanish major, being able to help Hispanic immigrant families by translating the ALIRP’s resource guide was very special. I could not have done it without such an amazing team—Lisandra Carballoza Quesada, Dalton Scott, Jane Vines, Lynda Wilson, Katherine Fulcher, and Dr. Sánchez-López—who were very encouraging, attentive, and compassionate.”

    The team at the ALIRP also viewed the experience as a success. Specifically, Lynda Wilson, president of the ALIRP, believes the partnership helped the organization reach more people and deepen its impact.

    “These resources will be extremely helpful for ALIRP volunteers and asylum-seeking families that we serve,” said Wilson. “Thanks to this wonderful collaboration, the ALIRP will be able to expand its reach to the Spanish-speaking community in Birmingham and beyond. We are extremely grateful to Dr. Sánchez-López for her leadership in developing this collaboration!”

  • UAB professor of Japanese named 2022 Educator of Excellence

    The Alabama World Languages Association recognized Assistant Professor Yumi Takamiya, Ph.D., with the honor, awarded to educators who exemplify excellence in language teaching, leadership and advocacy.

  • UAB music students secured top positions in the state’s young artists piano competition

    UAB students continue the legacy of competing in the Music Teachers National Association’s Young Artist Piano competition.

  • Maddox elected as college/university representative for American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese

    John Maddox, associate professor in UAB’s College of Arts and Sciences, will represent UAB at the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese.

  • Chambless honored with prestigious Wilga Rivers Award for Leadership in World Language Education

    The Wilga Rivers Award is highly competitive and based on active organizational participation such as committee work and conference presentations.

  • Moore to become associate dean for College of Arts and Sciences

    The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s College of Arts and Sciences has named John K. Moore, Jr., Ph.D., the new Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs.

    John K. Moore, Jr., Ph.D.The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s College of Arts and Sciences has named John K. Moore, Jr., Ph.D., the new Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs.

    Moore earned his B.A. in Spanish from Sewanee: The University of the South, MAT in Spanish from Middle Tennessee State University, and Ph.D. in Spanish Literature from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.

    Moore currently serves as Professor of Spanish in the College’s Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, and his research interests include Hispanic literature and pilgrimage studies, ethnic studies, and film studies. He recently published an award-winning book entitled Mulatto · Outlaw · Pilgrim · Priest: The Legal Case of José Soller, Accused of Impersonating a Pastor and Other Crimes in Seventeenth-century Spain. Through this scholarly work, Moore was honored with distinguished fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute for Pilgrimage Studies of William & Mary.

    Along with his teaching and research, Moore has served as a strong advocate for his department and for his fellow faculty members. Moore has held several leadership roles across the College, including interim chair of the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures and chair of the College’s Faculty Affairs Committee. While leading the Faculty Affairs Committee, Moore focused his efforts on finalizing departmental handbooks for all 19 departments and ensuring faculty members across the College received the clarity and guidance necessary to navigate the promotion and tenure process.

    As associate dean, Moore will be able to further build upon his passion for faculty affairs, while also supporting the College’s goal of promoting inclusive excellence.

    "It is my privilege and pleasure to serve the College's faculty as an ally and champion," said Moore. "I look forward to understanding, supporting, and promoting my colleagues' work. I thank Dean Thomas for this opportunity to stretch professionally and to help her team and her continue building a culture of distinction and belonging in the UAB College of Arts and Sciences."

    Moore will work alongside Dean Kecia M. Thomas, Ph.D.; Catherine Daniélou, Ph.D., Associate Dean for Academic Affairs; and Yogesh K. Vohra, Ph.D., Associate Dean for Research and Innovation.

    "The College was fortunate to have received applications from a number of excellent candidates for this important position. Dr. Moore’s prior experience as a former interim department chair and as a chair of the College’s Faculty Affairs Committee have prepared him well for the tasks at hand," said Dean Thomas. "I also believe that his outstanding record of research—such as his current book award and fellowships—uniquely position him to assist with our goal of expanding and diversifying the College’s portfolio of externally funded research, scholarship, and creative activities. I am confident he will serve as an effective mentor and role model for our faculty regardless of discipline. Finally, his history of working toward a more diverse and inclusive community makes him an ideal member of the CAS leadership team."

    Moore will start his new role with the College on December 1, 2021.

  • 1850s horror Twitter, recursive propaganda, mapping mutations: Faculty grants seed new projects and nurture careers

    Projects selected for the UAB Faculty Development Grants Program offer an intriguing look into the creativity and range of research and scholarship on campus.

  • Supporting a global classroom

    A world traveler’s planned gift helps students embark on journeys of transformation.

    William Doggett III, M.D., had an insatiable desire to travel and to learn. In fact, he believed that traveling was learning, says his brother David Doggett.

    “Foreign travel was not just a vacation or adventure to Bill,” David says. “It was a way to explore and understand more of the world and more about himself, and knowing how to speak even a little of another language helped him do that.”

    Study abroad was a critical component of William’s education. He spent a semester in France while pursuing his undergraduate degree, and after earning his medical degree from UAB, he attended summer institutes in England and France. William, who passed away in 2012, spent 35 years as an internist and pulmonary specialist in Birmingham. During his career, he took more than 40 courses at UAB on all sorts of topics—German language, Russian literature, piano, art, astronomy, and more. “His learning experiences at UAB were probably his greatest source of delight,” David says.

    To share his passions and to thank UAB for the many ways it contributed to his quality of life, William left a bequest to establish the Dr. William E. Doggett III Endowed Support Fund for the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures and to support the existing Grace Lindsley Waits Endowed Scholarship, which he had previously established. “My brother wanted his gift to enable others to expand their experience of the world through the study of language,” David says.

    The fund is accomplishing that goal, says Erika Rinker, Ph.D., assistant professor of German at UAB. “Dr. Doggett has given a gift greater than the monetary value of international airfare when he made possible the transformative experience of a summer, a semester, or a year in another country,” she says.

    “Students who feel supported in their study of another language, and especially those who enjoy the privilege of enriching their educations abroad, serve as ambassadors and return as advocates voicing their own support for the very initiatives and priorities identified by the College of Arts and Sciences,” Rinker notes. “They become our most genuine global citizen-scholars, and I am grateful to be able to work with the Doggett family to help extend our students’ worldviews.”

    Two students who have benefited from William Doggett’s generosity describe experiences abroad that have advanced their education and prepared them for successful careers:

    Leah Perz: Study abroad in Paris, France

    “My first study abroad experience was a month in Paris on a UAB faculty-led trip. I was awarded the Dr. William E. Doggett III Endowed Study Abroad Scholarship in Foreign Languages and Literatures, and that helped make the trip a reality by offsetting many expenses. My mornings were spent in French classes at a language institute in the heart of the city, and I had the afternoons to explore Paris and immerse myself in the culture.

    During my last full day in the city, I explored the area near the Arc de Triomphe. I walked along the Champs-Élysées and located the underground tunnel that gives access to the Arc, which sits on an island surrounded by four lanes of traffic. To get to the top, I climbed the tiniest spiraling staircase, which was full of people—and I can get claustrophobic. But I was rewarded with the most incredible view of the city. A lot of people think the view from the Eiffel Tower is the best, but I loved this panoramic view because I could also enjoy that iconic landmark while taking in the City of Lights.

    That month made me realize how much I want to improve my language learning and spend more time in France. In the fall, I’m planning to spend a semester in Lyon, France. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to afford the trip, but then I was awarded the Dr. William E. Doggett III Endowed Scholarship for Foreign Languages and Literatures. It will be my main source of financial aid during the semester and has allowed me to feel comfortable making this decision. Because of Dr. Doggett’s generosity, I can keep working toward my goal of fluency and a greater understanding of another culture.”

    Leah Perz graduated May 2020 with a B.A. degree in international studies and a B.A. in foreign languages with a French concentration. She’s from Moody, Alabama, and plans to pursue a master’s degree and eventually work in transnational anti-human trafficking endeavors.

    Meghan Ballard: Study abroad in Salamanca, Spain

    “I spent five weeks in Salamanca this past summer, thanks to the Dr. William E. Doggett III Endowed Study Abroad Scholarship in Foreign Languages and Literatures. I had taken about five years of Spanish, but I wasn’t sure how I would do talking with people who didn’t speak any English. I got to live with a host family, and that experience helped me tremendously. I feel a lot more accomplished and able to speak confidently now.

    My roommate and I—another UAB student who ended up becoming one of my best friends—would have lunch and dinner with my host family every day. And on the weekends, we occasionally would join them on hikes. One was especially memorable. It was 12 miles long—quite far for us, but for my family who is used to walking everywhere, it was nothing. By the end of the hike, my friend and I were exhausted. We could barely move. But I’ll never forget that day because we got to see parts of the Spanish countryside we’d never seen before. And we got to experience what my host family does for fun.

    I had been saving money to make this trip happen, but I wasn’t sure I’d be able to afford it until I received the scholarship. Living abroad gave me an education I never would have had in the classroom. I experienced food, people, culture. Plus I improved in my Spanish-speaking abilities. I would highly recommend studying abroad to anyone studying a foreign language.”

    Meghan Ballard graduated in May 2020 with a B.S. in psychology and a B.A. in foreign languages with a Spanish concentration. She's from Arab, Alabama, and plans to pursue a career in federal law enforcement or intelligence.

  • Moore awarded research prize for his book on jailed 17th-century Iberian “mulatto pilgrim”

    John K. Moore Jr., Ph.D., has been awarded the 2021 Prize for Research on the Road to Santiago and Pilgrimages for his 2020 book, which is both a critical study and scholarly translation of the case.

  • Professor’s new textbook prepares medical students for interactions with Spanish-speaking patients

    In teaching the Intermediate Spanish for Health Professionals course at UAB, María Antonia Anderson de la Torre, Ph.D., wanted to work with a text that in addition to language skills also portrayed racial and cultural diversity.

  • Maddox named University Teacher of the Year by national association

    John Maddox, Ph.D., associate professor of Spanish, was recognized for his innovative uses of technology in the classroom to unite students overseas and dismantle xenophobia, in addition to his advocation for the equity of all people during his lessons.

  • New scholarship named for writer Liliana Valenzuela endowed at UAB

    The Passion for Poetry Endowed Scholarship Honoring Liliana Valenzuela will be awarded to a student pursuing a Spanish major or minor. Valenzuela is an award-winning poet and acclaimed Spanish translator of literary works.

  • I am Arts and Sciences: Jolie Thevenot

    International studies alumna Jolie Thevenot is the executive director of the Japan-America Society of Alabama.

    Like many of her fellow students, Jolie Thevenot fulfilled a curriculum requirement to study a language during her freshman year at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. For Thevenot, the experience transcended a curriculum requirement and changed both her life and career trajectory.

    "I'd been interested in Japanese pop culture like anime and manga in high school, so when I was prompted to study a language at UAB, I thought I would just take Japanese 101-102 to enhance my media consumption," she divulged.

    But, as she began studying the language, Thevenot developed meaningful relationships with her professors in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures.

    "[The professors] showcased the Japanese culture more so than just the language. It made me really excited to study and use it more as a tool and an avenue to communicate than just a class."

    As a student, Thevenot had many interests and often changed her major. She eventually landed in the International Studies program due to its interdisciplinary nature. That degree program, paired with a minor in Japanese, allowed her to explore courses in sociology, history, foreign cultures, political science, and economics.

    She further cemented her interest in Japanese culture through two study abroad opportunities.

    First, Thevenot was selected for a two-week Birmingham's Sister Cities exchange program in Hitachi, Japan the summer after her freshman year. "That wasn't long enough for me, so I wanted to go back and study [in Japan]." Through UAB Study Abroad, Thevenot participated as an exchange student at Nihon University in Tokyo for her junior year.

    When she returned to UAB for her senior year, Thevenot was selected for an internship with the Japan-America Society of Alabama. During her internship, the executive director left the organization, which allowed Thevenot to lean into a role outside of typical intern duties. She worked closely with board members, helped organize events, and learned how to run the organization. Those experiences gave her the confidence to apply for the executive director role when she graduated in 2017—a position she continues to hold today.

    Founded in 1989, the Japan-America Society of Alabama (JASA) is a private nonprofit organization committed to fostering friendship and understanding between Japan and the U.S. As the Executive Director of JASA, Thevenot is focused on community engagement and outreach, a value she says she learned at UAB by taking advantage of the cultural engagement opportunities and events offered across the university.

    After her first year as Executive Director at JASA, Thevenot was named a Next Generation Fellow by the American Friends of the International House of Japan. The Next Generation Fellows Program supports promising young American leaders in the U.S.-Japan relationship.

    Thevenot says UAB gave her the skillset to think critically about the world around her and consider everything from different angles and perspectives. Her interdisciplinary degree, in particular, inspired her to be open to many opportunities. "The international studies field is so broad that it allowed for different connections with different fields of study... [UAB] gave me the confidence in taking something I don't understand and knowing who to reach out to and what questions to ask," she explained.

    Her advice for current students? Use your time at UAB to get comfortable asking questions and take advantage of UAB's events and opportunities. "You never know when one Wednesday night event will completely change your perspective or get you really excited about something you never knew was possible. There are opportunities like that everywhere," said Thevenot.

    Learn about the international studies major at UAB and the minor in Japanese.