Dr. Alfonso J. García-Osuna
Dr. Alfonso J. García-Osuna
Department of Romance Languages and Literatures
Dr. Alfonso J. García-Osuna has taught at Hofstra University, in Hempstead, New York, for 33 years, both at the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures and at the university’s Honors College. Additionally, he will begin to teach at the university’s Irish Studies Program next year. He specializes in medieval and early modern literature, having received his PhD (1989) from the Graduate School of the City University of New York. He completed post-doctoral work at the University of Valladolid, Spain, has published six books, and is a frequent contributor to specialized journals.
Alfonso has been invited to lecture on literature, culture and film in Turkey, Malta, Japan, India, Madrid, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, and at several universities in the United States. Dr. Osuna also sits on the Board of Directors of Japan’s prestigious International Academic Forum, is the editor of the IAFOR Journal of Arts and Humanities and is frequently a visiting professor at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.
Born in Havana, Cuba, Alfonso has lived most of his adult life in Oceanside, on scenic Long Island. He has two children with his wife Angela; they were born on Long Island and graduated from Hofstra University and from Carnegie Mellon University, in Pittsburgh. His three grandchildren were born in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Manhattan respectively, so he has a Steelers’ fan, an Eagles’ fan and a promising Giants’ fan in the family.
Dr. Osuna received primary and secondary education in Las Palmas, in the Canary Islands, the place where his family originated and where he grew up. Of having grown up in Gran Canaria, he states that there was no better place for him to develop, surrounded by a large extended family, volcanoes, colossal mountains, amazing coastlines and pleasant, kind and polite people.
His teaching vocation came late: his childhood dream of joining the Spanish Air Force and subsequently being a pilot for Iberia were dashed when, as a teenager, he emigrated from Gran Canaria to the United States with his parents and his brother Raúl. It is here that he pursued his early interest in literature. He is happiest when teaching medieval literature at Hofstra: he believes that medieval texts capture the human realities of a time when life was hard, short, and full of burdens; a time when only the strong survived.
He has received numerous awards, including the “Mayor’s Recognition Award” from the Village of Hempstead, the “Dedicated to Education Award” from Fundación Hispanoamericana, and the “Hispanic Heritage Award” from the Town of Hempstead.
When he began his academic career, the first thing that astonished him was the fact that most students lacked even the simplest understanding of the Spanish-speaking world. On one occasion, a student was looking at the facing pages of a book on the history and culture of Spanish-speaking peoples. On one page was the map of the Americas, and on the facing page a map of Spain. That student confidently stated: “no wonder Spain discovered America: look at how close they are!” On another occasion a student commented on the “amazing” coincidence that Spain had discovered America, saying that “in both Spain and the Americas people already spoke Spanish, which made colonization much easier!” Additionally, a student participating in the university’s overseas program in Madrid, accustomed to the marvelous ethnic diversity of Hispanics in New York, remarked that “people in Spain don’t look Spanish,” while another complained that the flight arrived in Madrid on the 4th of July, when all the stores would be closed and they could not go shopping. Unfortunately, these are true stories. Dr. Osuna has spent much of his academic life extinguishing such confusions while trying his best not to provide additional perplexities.
An avid cyclist, Alfonso has completed the Road to Santiago, an 867-kilometer ancient pilgrimage route, through northern Spain, six times. It is a challenging journey that lets you know that, spiritually and physically, you can travel far beyond the perceived boundaries of your capacities; it is a road that makes you stronger and wiser. He hopes to return before…. his bicycle gets too old.