Sara Muñoz comes to Dartmouth from Princeton University, where she earned her PhD. Muñoz, an assistant professor of Spanish, talks about why she chose to be a teacher, the relationship between research and teaching, and what she likes about Dartmouth.
This Dartmouth Now series features four of the scholars who have joined Dartmouth’s Arts & Sciences faculty during the 2012-2013 academic year. The week’s headlines include:
Thursday: Meet Dartmouth’s New Faculty (Part 4): Sara Muñoz
Starting Out: “Teaching a group of students—either to communicate in Spanish, to listen and enjoy a song in Spanish, or to add light to a text in order to make it more comprehensible—is what I do and enjoy best, so I decided to become a teacher.
“But no teaching is complete without a research component, because teachers who do not have that ambition, that need to keep learning, do not make very good teachers. So combining teaching and research is not only necessary but also what makes my field of study very appealing.
“During the completion of my graduate degrees I learned that certain fundamental issues in 18th- and, to a lesser extent, 19th-century Spanish literature and culture have often been left unexplored. Here is where my interest towards my field of study was born: out of the need to discover, recover, and illustrate literature and cultural productions of 18th- and 19th-century Spain that have been either overlooked or examined only from certain perspectives.”
Teaching and Research: “I am driven by motivation and enjoyment. The minute I stop enjoying what I do—not having a great time in a classroom full of students, or not looking forward to grabbing a book and reading for hours, or not feeling the curiosity to explore what has not been studied before—then I will know it is time to switch careers.
“On another level, knowing that what I do matters is an issue that drives me. I need to know that what I do inside my classroom, my office, or the library has an impact outside, either because my students will use the knowledge of my courses in their lives or because my ongoing research contributes to a certain extent to the understanding of a historical, social, political, and literary period of time that calls for attention.”
On Dartmouth: “Every day I am astonished by how nice and collaborative people are here. Everybody is willing to help, to offer a piece of advice, and they make you feel at home. This, combined with the highly intellectual atmosphere that surrounds Dartmouth, makes it an outstanding and privileged place to be.”