Carnegie Mellon University

Susan Polansky

Susan G. Polansky

Head, Modern Languages & Teaching Professor of Hispanic Studies

Department of Modern Languages
Carnegie Mellon University
Baker Hall 160
Pittsburgh, PA 15213


My teaching and research activities in Hispanic Studies, service learning, and the development of curricular materials have always been closely connected and have invigorated each other. Over the years, I have taught courses at all levels of the Hispanic Studies program, and more recently I have led the Department's Tutoring for Community Outreach service-learning course, and taught the Modern Languages Senior Capstone Seminar, as well as special topics courses focusing on Hispanic Studies.

Tutoring for Community Outreach is built on a longstanding collaboration between the Department of Modern Languages and the Pittsburgh Public Schools. This opportunity for community-based learning reflects the growing trend of universities and local partners building productive linkages for learning and growth. Undergraduate students of Modern Languages with a wide variety of academic and career interests and MA students in the Department’s Applied Second Language Acquisition program work with pupils and teachers of Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Spanish, and English as a Second Language in grades one through twelve. My colleagues, students, and I have given presentations and published works to share the history and activities of this flexible curriculum-based model.

My research in Peninsular Spanish literature and Hispanic cultural studies focuses primarily on nineteenth- and twentieth-century Spanish writers and on cross-cultural currents between Spain and the Americas beginning with the arrival of Spaniards in the Americas. The Poet as Hero: Pedro Salinas and His Theater is a study of the senior member of the Spanish Generation of 1927 and his turn to writing plays in exile from Spain. My books Tristana by Benito Pérez Galdós and Abel Sánchez by Miguel de Unamuno are unabridged, student-friendly editions of these novels. With an introduction, notes, and glossary, these editions are designed to promote students’ reading and critical thinking abilities in Spanish. Tristana explores attitudes and societal norms related to the convention of marriage in nineteenth-century Spain. Abel Sánchez offers an incisive treatment of the passion of envy set in the context of Spanish history. Another area of my research focuses on cacao in Europe and the Americas. Cacao was first introduced into Europe through Spain early in the sixteenth century, both as a food and a medicine. My work examines documents that trace the evolution of its reception and the growth of its popularity.

My teaching has also informed the development of Spanish textbooks for intermediate and advanced level students as well as a work text for elementary level students. I have coauthored with Gene S. Kupferschmid Eso es, with activities for grammar review through independent study and group work, and Exploraciones: Campos y culturas profesionales, designed to offer students a vehicle for learning about a variety of fields and career paths via their study of Spanish.


Ph.D., Boston College, 1984

Selected Work

  • Tristana. Newark, Delaware: European Masterpieces/Lingua Text, Ltd., 2016.
  • Abel Sánchez. Newark, Delaware: European Masterpieces/Lingua Text, Ltd., 2008
  • The Poet as Hero: Pedro Salinas and His Theater. Newark, Delaware: Juan de La Cuesta-Hispanic Monographs, 2005.
  • Rhythm The Eternal Organizer. (Translation of Ritmo El eterno organizador by Victoria Santa Cruz). Lima. Ediciones Copé, Petróleos del Perú, 2005.
  • Exploraciones: Culturas y campos profesionales (with Gene S. Kupferschmid), Houghton Mifflin, 2001.
  • Eso es (with Gene S. Kupferschmid), Houghton Mifflin, 2001.
  • Puntos de vista Lectura, Heinle & Heinle Publishers, January 1994.
  • Puntos de vista Instructor's Manual, (With Welch, Koike, and Biron), Heinle & Heinle Publishers, 1994.
  • Testing Program Con mucho gusto, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1988, 1995.
  • “Community Bridges and Interdisciplinary Language Learning Projects: Stepping Out of Comfort Zones and Building Ways to Grow.” In Project-Based Learning in Second Language Acquisition: Building Communities of Practice in Higher Education.  Editor Adrián Gras-Velázquez.  ESL and Professional Linguistics Professional Series.  New York and London: Routledge, 2020. 

  • “Modern Languages Majors in the 21st Century: Broadening Disciplinary Frames of Reference and Global Awareness.”  With G. Richard Tucker.  ADE-ADFL Bulletin. Literary Studies and Globalization.  45.1, 2018.

  • "Tutoring Modern Languages and Cultures through Service Learning: Flexibility with Growth in Multiple Ways." With Mallikarjun, Thom, Valcarce, and Zhu. ADFL Bulletin 43.2, 2015.

  • "Freedom to Experiment: The Coherence and Complexity of Federico García Lorca’s Puppet Theater." Hispania, March 2014.
  • "La trayectoria de un curioso tratado sobre el chocolate: El curioso tratado de la naturaleza y calidad del chocolate por Antonio Colmenero de Ledesma." El Español, Integrador de culturas. Jorge H. Valdivieso y Enrique Ruiz-Fornells, Editors. Turlock, CA: Editorial Orbis Press, 2012.
  • "Tales of Tutors: The Role of Narrative in Language Learning and Service-Learning" (with Andrianoff, Bernard, Flores, Gardocki, Handerhan, Park and Young). Foreign Language Annals, Summer 2010.
  • "Dos leyendas de tiempo interrumpido: Así que pasen cinco años por Federico García Lorca y La familia interrumpida por Luis Cernuda". Hispania, May 2007.
  • "Tutoring for Community Outreach: A Course Model for Language Learning and Bridge Building between University and Public Schools," Foreign Language Annals, Fall 2004.
  • "Pedro Salinas," In Major Spanish Dramatists. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishers, 2001.
  • "Lorca and Salinas in New York: Mannequins and the Modern Landscape," Hispania, September 2001.

Courses Taught

  • 82-141 Elementary Spanish I
  • 82-142 Elementary Spanish II
  • 82-241 Intermediate Spanish I
  • 82-242 Intermediate Spanish II
  • 82-281 Tutoring for Community Outreach
  • 82-342 Spain Language and Culture
  • 82-345 Introduction to Hispanic Literary and Cultural Studies: Reflections on Food in the Spanish-Speaking World
  • 82-455/456 Topics in Hispanic Studies: Spanish Poets and Playwrights of Exile, Visions of Family Life in Twentieth Century Spain; Knights, Rogues, and Saints, Family Life and Strife in Twentieth and Twenty-first Century Spain; Political Drama of Spain
  • 82-580 Modern Languages Senior Capstone Seminar

Department Member Since