Graeme Styles

Graeme Styles, a junior graduating in 2025, is a History of Art and Spanish double major who has been studying in Madrid, Spain.

Graeme has taken Art History courses taught entirely in Spanish about topics related to Spain. He says the experience is entirely immersive of both his fields, and that this duality exists for most majors within the world of liberal arts.

“Upon returning to Michigan I believe I will look for ways to further connect these two studies, less because I am interested in the art I am studying in Spain, but more so because I find it is just incredibly useful to be able to learn in two separate languages and environments,” Graeme said. “In regards to studying art conceived by Spanish artists, like any language I have found that there is always meaning lost in translation. It is a privilege to get to understand it in its original form.”

At U-M, Graeme has found numerous connections through the content in History of Art and the Spanish speaking world. One of his favorite examples was a class he took in the History of Art department with Ferran Barenblit, a former director of both CA2M in Madrid and the MACBA in Barcelona. Graeme found this was a perfect opportunity to learn more about Spanish/Catalonian contemporary art while practicing his Spanish/Catalan.

“I have always been interested in the history of different cultures within Spain and the divides they face; especially with so many having their own language,” Graeme said. “I have also always held a certain place in my heart for F.C. Barcelona a beacon of Catalonian independence. When I had the opportunity to take Professor Coll-Ramírez’s class I knew I had to do it.”

Additionally, Graeme enjoyed taking “Escenas Feministas en el Cine Hispanohablante” because he thought it was a perfect combination of his interest in the arts, with a background in both historical and current events throughout the Spanish speaking world. The class enabled him to view a film every week, focusing on talking and presenting on the topics in the film. Through the class, Graeme saw himself grow exponentially in ease of speaking, depth of vocabulary, and understanding of history in various countries such as Argentina, Mexico, and Peru.

“Please chase anything that interests you to the fullest extent,” Graeme said. “I did not know the options RLL offered when I began taking these classes, but now I am in Spain fulfilling both of my majors simultaneously.”

In the past year, Graeme also spent time learning to speak Catalan. He took Professor Coll-Ramírez’s class and now, studying in Madrid, he is grateful for the opportunity. Graeme feels as though he has learned a great deal about the culture and politics of Catalunya that is often lost on many tourists and speakers that only explore traditional Castilian Spanish. He explained that the classes do not only teach the language of Catalan, but a history of its culture including the persecution the Catalonians faced under Franco’s regime in Spain.

“Almost every day I spend abroad in Madrid I am reminded of this divide due to daily life, and it really amazes me that most students I am studying with have not been educated on it,” Graeme said. “Even if you can’t take Catalan, I recommend the current events classes/ political classes Michigan offers in RLL to help learn about these problems.”