Writing and Rhetoric
Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures
Writing & Rhetoric
Second language; Spanish; writing; creative nonfiction; identity; Spain
Emily Dickinson once wrote a poem titled “Tell all the truth but tell it slant,” where she advises writers to do just that. One should tell the truth about their experiences, but tell it through their own unique perspective in order to make it “dazzle” on the page. My slant? Una segunda lengua.
As a student of Spanish, learning a different language has impacted the way that I see the world and my place in it. Studying abroad taught me about the language and culture of Spain, but it also taught me a lot about myself, my own native language, and my own culture. My experiences learning Spanish through immersion have provided me with a wealth of stories to share, and the ability to tell them in more than one language. But how does this slant impact my ability to write my stories?
In my Honors Project, I sought to explore this question. Further, I wondered how both English and Spanish affect the way that I think about my experiences of place and culture. How has learning a second language changed me as a traveller? As a writer? I was curious to see if my writing process and the written products that I produce differ fundamentally with each language, and how each one challenges me in different ways.
To consider these questions through writing about my travels abroad, I decided to write two creative nonfiction essays--one in English and one in Spanish. As a Writing & Rhetoric major who, more often than not, writes analytical pieces, this genre would allow me to develop my skills in more personal, creative writing. Further, the paradox of creative nonfiction allows me to tell my truth, but use my slant to make it “dazzle.” A cross between personal essay and travel essay, my writing translates my experiences and thoughts into two languages.