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ABSTRACT  Within the current debate over the methods and content of foreign language curricula, discussion of the relevance and role of literature remains largely at the level of conjecture. In order to learn about the value that students ascribe to the study of Spanish literature, we undertook a semester-long qualitative study of students' goals for, experiences in, and perceptions of a Spanish literature survey course at a regional state university. Methods of data collection were ongoing throughout the semester and included audiotaped classroom observation, interviews with four students, and a reflective teaching journal kept by the instructor. Analysis of the interviews reveals that for these students, the process of studying literature is a mixture of deciphering language, making sense of texts within their social and historical contexts, and sharing textual interpretations. Rather than the limitations frequently cited regarding foreign language literature study, they describe an interplay among language learning, cultural and historical understanding, and textual interpretation in the literature classroom. Their reflections suggest that the study of literature offers a flexible resource with the potential to combine the personal and the pragmatic and thus make their experiences meaningful.