On Tuesday Queen Sofía of Spain visited the Talyorian Institute to hear a colloquium from academics and students about Spanish studies of Oxford.
The event was organised by Exeter College as part of their celebrations of their 700th aniversary as a college this year. Tutors and students of the discipline from across the University were present.
Stepahnie Black, a second-year at St Anne’s, stated: “The colloquium was a truly moving ceremony and made me proud to be studying Spanish at Oxford. It was almost surreal having the Queen of Spain in my lecture hall!”
The collouium celebrated the academic research and study undertaken at the College and the University by students and staff in the field of Spanish studies.
It also recognised the ongoing relationship between Exeter College and Spain, and paid tribute to the creation of the Alfonso XIII Professorship of Spanish Literature for the College, established in 1927, as well as the more recent Queen Sofia Junior Fellowship, founded in 1998.
Representatives of the Spanish bank Santander, which helps to fund the Fellowship, were also present.
Both the current holders of these posts, Professor Edwin Williamson and Dr Daniela Omlor, outlined their current academic projects.
Professor Williamson also spoke about the history of Spanish studies at Oxford. He highlighted both how the Taylorian is the largest collection of modern language books in the UK and how Spanish has gone from a minority subject to the second-most studied forreign language, after French, at UK universities.
As well as the tutors, three current Exeter students spoke about their studies, and why they had been attracted to Spanish as a subject.
Artem Serebrennikov, DPhil candidate in Modern Languages spoke about how the desire to read Cervantes’ Don Quixote in the original Spanish led him to the sudy of the subject, and now the novel forms the basis of his work.
Matt Stokes, a finalist, and Daisy Thompson, a second-year, both spoke about how a love of and interest in Spanish language, literature and art led them to pursue the subject further and how early experiences in Spanish-speaking countries cultivated their desire to learn from an early age.
The Queen, her entourage and the speakers from Exeter College then went back to Exeter for a formal meal, a tour of the college and the chance to here some Spanish and English choral music.