Originally from Argentina, teaching Spanish seems quite natural for Professor Gustavo Fares, chair of the Spanish department. Teaching in such a cold climate, however, is another story.Fares spent the first 27 years of his life in Argentina, where he still has family. He studied law at the Universidad de Buenos Aires. After he earned his law degree, he worked as a lawyer for two years. “Before I realized it was boring,” he said.
He then studied art at the Escuela Superior de Bellas Artes Ernesto de la Carcova. He came to the U.S. in 1985, taking up a post as a teaching assistant at West Virginia University.
With an interest in the emerging field of critical theory, he studied Fine Arts and Literature. After completing his master’s degree, he went to University of Pittsburgh, where he earned his doctorate in Latin American literature and cultural studies.
Before coming to Lawrence, Fares taught at a liberal arts college in Virginia. “It was the same size as Lawrence, but not as good,” he joked. In 1999 he received a letter from Professor Eilene Hoft-March, asking if he would be interested in the Chair of Spanish position at Lawrence.
That January he made the trek to Wisconsin for his interview, during one of the bitterest winters of the last 10 years. “I liked the quality of the school, the town, the restaurants, the mall.everything but the snow,” said Fares.
He accepted the position and bought a house without anyone in his family having seen Appleton. “They came on faith,” Fares said, adding that their first winter was the worst because it had the most snow. “I like it now. I like to play in the snow with the boys,” he said, referring to his two sons, aged 9 and 11.
Fares does escape the land of ice and snow from time to time, traveling back to Argentina every few years, both to visit family and to teach. In 2004 he received a Fulbright Grant to teach a Hispanic identities class in Mendoza and was subsequently asked to return as part of an ongoing appointment.
He teaches mostly English literature in these courses. “It is a good opportunity to explore new areas and to combine my interests,” he said.
In addition to his teaching duties, Fares is a talented painter (Interested parties should go to www.lawrence.edu/fast/faresg/art). His most recent gallery showing was during the summer of 2007 at Fine Line Designs in Door County.
He has another showing slated for next October, again in Door County. “I’m able to spend as much time as I need because of the flexibility of teaching,” he said of his painting. “If I have an idea or a showing, I can work if I need to.”
Outside of painting, Fares enjoys reading, currently with a focus on literature from India and Japan. He recommends novels by Haruki Murakami and V.S. Naipaul.
Despite being the father of two children, Fares does not have cable, citing the sometimes all-consuming power of television. “It gives me more control over my choices,” he said. “I only miss it when there is a Packer game.”
He does, however, sometimes watch television on the Internet, citing ABC and Argentinean TV programs as personal favorites. Movie watching at the Fares home is mostly dictated by his sons, who he and his wife home-school, and what they are studying at the moment. Fares did manage to work the film “300” into the curriculum, but he has recently been focusing on films about the polar regions. **ENDING?** –ama