The Catholic University of America

ASL  |  Arabic  |  Chinese  |  French  |  German  |  Irish  |  Italian |  Portuguese  |  Spanish

A Message to the CUA D.R.E.A.M.ers and Students and Staff in the DACA and TPS program:


The faculty, instructors, and staff in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures come from fifteen different countries and four different continents. Some of us were born here and just like you, many of us have made the United States of America our new home. We live here, we work here, and we have our families and friends here. We would like to let you know that we wholeheartedly welcome you on our campus and in our community. All of us together make this university, the city of Washington, DC, and this country a more diverse, multicultural, and better place. As members of the Modern Languages and Literatures department here at CUA, we deeply believe that cultural, ethnic, and racial diversity is a strength. We place the importance of cultural encounters and intercultural dialogue at the center of our scholarship and teaching, because “we may have different religions, different languages, different colored skin, but we all belong to one human race” (Kofi Annan, Nobel Peace Prize Winner). As Pope Benedict XVI has said, “closing our eyes to our neighbor also blinds us to God.” You are dear neighbors to us and you belong in our community.


The Faculty, Instructors, and Staff

Department of Modern Languages and Literatures


Welcome to the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures

There are many reasons to study other languages and cultures. By studying literary and cultural values, both past and present, we gain important insights into ourselves and others that enable us to confront the intellectual, social, and political challenges of the future. From a purely practical standpoint, knowledge of languages and cultures will provide a competitive edge in the increasingly globalized and complex workplace of the 21st century.

The Department of Modern Languages and Literatures at CUA is a dynamic community of teacher-scholars with widely varying backgrounds (Arabic, Chinese, Italian, German, Spanish, French, American, Latin-American, etc.), interests, and theoretical approaches. While remaining grounded in a broadly humanistic tradition of intellectual inquiry and scholarship, we are committed to opening a dialogue with other disciplines--including CUA programs such as Philosophy, Media Studies, History, Comparative Literature, Semitic Languages and Literatures, Classics, and Medieval Studies--and with the consortium and intellectual community at large. In our classrooms and research, we thus seek to combine a solid foundation in national literatures with the interdisciplinary pursuit of new fields of investigation.

Asian Studies

Asian StudiesThumb

An interdisciplinary minor that allows students to craft a coherent program with a focus on Asian Studies. This minor combines coursework from different departments, including language, history, politics, and religion. | More

European Studies

European Studies Thumb

The Certificate in European Studies is a multidisciplinary program focusing on the history, politics, and culture of Europe and the European Union. Students acquire advanced language proficiency in at least one European language and immerse themselves in European culture either through study abroad or an internship.. | More

Irish Studies


The Catholic University is now pleased to offer a newly designed Certificate in Irish Studies. This certificate is open to all enrolled undergraduate students at CUA. As structured, it supplements a student’s general course of study in a major area of concentration.| More

Islamic World Studies

Islamic World Studies Thumb

Multidisciplinary minor and certificate programs that assemble courses into sub-concentrations that supplement undergraduate majors in the humanities and social sciences. Islamic World Studies focus on the Muslim world from the rise of Islam in late antiquity until today. | More

Latin American and Latino Studies


A multidisciplinary program focused on understanding the Hispanic experience in the Americas, this program draws on the expertise of scholars at CUA in anthropology, arts, economics, history, modern languages, medieval studies, music, political science, sociology, and social work. | More

Spanish for Health Care

Spanish for Health CareThumb

A certificate program leading to competence in medical Spanish to effectively communicate with Spanish-speaking patients and families. This program develops your knowledge of critical and health care specific language, and culture sensitivity. | More


All Highlights


  • Prof. Sheffer "German for Specific Purposes in the Basic Language Sequence: A Case Study in Implementation during Curricular Reform."  Die Unterrichtspraxis 50.1. 2017.  Pp. 91-99.
  • Prof. Bornholdt and Prof. Sheffer Integrating Language and Culture Studies within a Multidisciplinary Framework of European Studies.” NECTFL Review 79. 2017. Pp. 13-34.  
  • Prof. García-Donoso "Searching the Soul of the City in Rafael Chirbes's Crematorio."  The Sacred and Modernity in Urban Spain:  Beyond the Secular City.  Eds. Antonio Córdoba, Daniel García-Donoso.  New York:  Palgrave Macmillan, 2016, 139-55.
  • Prof. Stieber "The Northern Récit Paysan:  Regional Variations of the Modern Peasant Novel in Haiti.  French Studies 70.1. 2016.  44-60.
  • Prof. Lucamante "Elsa Morante’s Politics of Writing, Rethinking Subjectivity, History, and the Power of Art",(2014).


  • Sheffer, Amanda. "Exploring Intertextuality in Kehlmann's die Vermessug der Welt: Critiquing the Present through the Past". Austrian Studies Association, Chicago, March 18, 2017.
  • M. Kassen, C. McMahon, A. Sheffer, "Don't worry, be 'Appy: Smartphone Apps that Engage and Inspire” ACTFL, Boston, November 20, 2016.
  • C. McMahon, A. Sheffer, “Teaching from the Headlines: European Migration in the Language Classroom”  MFLA, Columbia, MD, October 22, 2016.

All Highlights



Our wonderful colleague Mayka Puente de Righi received the first ever Part-time Faculty Award for Teaching Excellence in Arts and Sciences on Monday, Feb. 5th. Dr Puente is a Spanish Heritage Learner Specialist and our Language Placement Coordinator.

Spanish Conversation Hour
Love Spanish culture? Want to improve your conversation skills? LOVE extra credit? Don't miss out on the Spanish Club events this semester!

German Conversation Hour
Speakers of all levels are welcome! Just look for the German flag.

Quattro Chiacchiere (Italian Conversation Hour)
Practice your Italian and meet Italian speakers at CUA during this fun and informal conversation hour.


Chinese Night: A Celebration of Lunar New Year

Come experience Chinese culture through lots of activities: paper cutting, calligraphy, chopstick competitions, games, photo booth, and Q & A. You will have fun seeing traditional Chinese costumes, watching lion dance, listening to Chinese music and sampling Chinese food


A Conversation with His Excellency Daniel Mulhall, Ambassador of Ireland in the United States of America
Ambassador Mulhall has served in the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs for almost forty years. Following a successful academic career, his previous overseas postings have included New Delhi, Vienna, Brussels, Edinburgh, Malaysia (which also involved representing Laos, Thailand and Vietnam) and Berlin. Most recently he served in London where he represented Irish interests in the difficult circumstances created by the Brexit vote in June 2016.


Amanda Sheffer, Clinical Assistant Professor of German, received the national FL-A-CH award at the annual conference of the (AATG). This award honors excellence in the teaching of the language and cultures of Austria, the German-speaking areas of Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and Südtirol in the United States.

On Saturday, November 4, the Department of Modern Languages & Literatures hosted the GWATFL Fall Conference for Language Educators featuring sessions that focused on innovative programs, emerging trends and best practices.


On October 20th, Prof. Hwang, Dr. Ortiz, the Associate Provost for International Affairs, and Claudia Bornholdt, the Chair of the Modern Languages Department, met with Director Chih and Mr. Lih from TECRO (Taiwanese Economic and Cultural Representative Office in Washington, DC) to discuss further collaboration and opportunities for our Chinese language students.


Student profile:  Michele Bouchard (certificate in Islamic World Studies, 2017)

Student profile:  Maria Thurber (Spanish for International Service 2017)
German In Europe in German World Biligual Magazine