James Maraniss (1945-2022)

James Maraniss, Professor of Spanish, Emeritus, died on January 9, 2022. Jim began at Amherst in 1972 after receiving his doctorate at Princeton. He was a voracious reader and scholar, writing the libretto for an operatic adaptation of Calderón de la Barca's La vida es sueño (Life is a Dream) in collaboration with Lew Spratlan, Peter R. Pouncey Professor of Music, Emeritus, which won a Pulitzer Prize in 2000. Jim was also a longtime translator for Antonio Benítez-Rojo, Amherst Professor of Spanish and noted exiled Cuban writer.  Jim had a deep sense of community, adored his native Wisconsin, and was a born storyteller. In courses on Golden Age Literature, the Generations of '98 and '27, European Theater, Poetic Translation, Spanish Film and the Spanish Civil War, Jim inspired generations of students with his sprawling intellect and generous nature. With his wife Gigi and their beloved corgies, Jim retired to his oasis in Chesterfield in 2015, but could still be seen occasionally visiting the Amherst campus he loved. His colleagues in the Spanish Department and across campus will remember his spirit and celebrate his life and contributions to our Department.

The New York Times wrote this article about his passing.

James Maraniss (1945-2022)

Lessons from afar: Amherst College professor shares pandemic experience in Spain

Spanish Professor Sara Brenneis is featured here in the Daily Hampshire Gazette about her experience with COVID-19 in Madrid Spain.

Recent Publications

Spanish Professor Jeannette Sánchez-Naranjo, Ph.D. recently published two articles.  Check them out below!

In Foreign Language Annals

Peer review and training: Pathways to quality and value in second language writing

This study examined the impact of teaching students to provide and incorporate peers’ feedback on their partners’ second language (L2) writing. Sixty‐five participants enrolled in Spanish composition classes were assigned to one of three conditions: trained peer review (n = 21), untrained peer review (n =21), and a non‐peer‐review comparison group (n = 23). Each group produced narrative and expository texts that were analyzed and scored by three raters to determine the extent to which students’ text quality improved from one version to the next as well as throughout the semester, and what type of feedback L2 learners incorporated into their revisions. Results showed that participation in systematic training involving discussion and interaction with their peers allowed L2 learners to provide significantly more comments that contributed to substantial gains in final text versions. By receiving feedback from a trained L2 peer and incorporating a higher number of peers’ comments into their text revisions, L2 learners were able to effectively use feedback that led to better text quality.


In Studies in Hispanic and Lusophone Linguistics

La producción de significado y la construcción de la identidad social en el uso humorístico del lenguaje

This article examines interactional spontaneous humorous remarks (ocurrencias) in Spanish. 680 hours of natural conversational data from a group of Colombian graduate students were collected and transcribed using observational methods from an ethnographic approach. By examining conversational joking among participants, this study provides a detailed description of humorous remarks forms and functions within social interactions in informal contexts. Results show that participants use humorous remarks to both establish their own hierarchical position in the group, as well as regulate their relationships and the interaction itself. It is argued that beyond humor, these remarks play a role as discourse markers since they guide the process of meaning and identity construction by the subjects.