By Julie Clack
This spring, Professor Angel Loureiro is retiring from the Department of Spanish and Portuguese. A scholar of modern and contemporary Spain with interests in photography and film, Loureiro has taught courses on topics ranging from “History and Memory in Contemporary Spanish Culture” to “Work and Love, Play and Politics in Spanish Cinema.”
Loureiro, who has taught at Princeton for over 17 years, became the first chair of the department when it was formed in 2001.
“The most satisfying aspects of my time at Princeton are creating the backbone of the department’s staff and presiding over the hiring of faculty who are still here with us today,” Loureiro said.
Going into the 2018-19 academic year, 8 out of the 12 current Spanish and Portuguese faculty were hired while Loureiro was chair.
Loureiro is also proud of the program in Portuguese’s marked expansion. When he arrived, “the number of students taking Portuguese was languishing,” Loureiro said. “By hiring first [Meira Monteiro] and then Nicola Cooney, who is our senior lecturer and director of the Portuguese program, and then Bruno Carvalho, the foundations for the enormous growth of the Portuguese program were set.”
The program in Portuguese continues to thrive; since the 2001-2 academic year, student enrollment in Portuguese has more than doubled. Loureiro added, “[Meira Monteiro] is the first Portuguese professor who got tenure at Princeton, and the first specialist in the Lusophone area who is chair of a department within the area of Romance languages; that gives you a measurement of how much Portuguese has come along in those years.”
While Loureiro will miss teaching his students and collaborating with colleagues, he has embarked on a new endeavor to keep him busy during his retirement: writing fiction.
“[My fiction-writing] has been sort of a secret so far, but I think it’s time for me to come out,” Loureiro joked. He has written two novels, and plans to begin a third when he retires. “It’s something that I thought I had in me but always had an excuse not to put my energy to the task,” he said. “I decided that since I’m close to retirement, it was now or never.”
He added, “Writing fiction is very important to me because it gives another dimension to my life. It’s something that helps me close one chapter and open a new one, which is very exciting for me.”
While fiction-writing and writing for the academy are different in many ways, Loureiro’s responsibilities as a professor — reading, researching, writing scholarly articles, and teaching — helped give him a thorough knowledge of how fiction works and what elements are necessary to build a good novel.
“All of that gives you an idea about how to structure the novel, but you still have to flesh out that structure, which is the most difficult part of writing a work of fiction,” he said.
Professor Loureiro’s other retirement plans include continuing to publish research and traveling throughout Europe and North Africa, using his apartment in Madrid as a home base.
Meira Monteiro said, “Angel’s role in building the Department of Spanish and Portuguese cannot be underestimated. As its first Chair, he took on the complex task of transitioning from the old structure of Romance studies to the actual Spanish and Portuguese set.”
“On a more personal note, it is fair to say that had it not been for Angel’s support of the Portuguese section of the department, I wouldn’t be here today,” Meira Monteiro added. “In fact, the current contours of our department have much to do with Angel’s hiring efforts, as much as the current department is a result of his administrative and academic wisdom.”