Hispanic Studies Department

Requirements for Concentration: 10 units beyond the introductory level. These 10 units must include 3 units from the group Hispanic Studies 226, 227, 228, 229 and 3 units at the 300 level, including one Latin American Seminar (387) and one Peninsular Seminar (388). Two units must be elected in the senior year. After declaration of the major or correlate, all courses in the department must be taken for a letter grade. Courses taken in Spain or Latin America or during the summer may be substituted with department approval.

Senior-Year Requirements: Two units at the 300-level. Students who wish to be considered for departmental honors must complete a senior thesis (Hispanic Studies 300).

Teaching Certification: Students who wish to obtain Secondary Certification in Spanish must complete, in conjunction with the program of study outlined by the education department, 8 units of 200-level courses and above in Hispanic Studies.

Correlate Sequence: 6 units beyond the introductory level, 3 of which must be taken at Vassar, including at least one 300-level course.

Study Away: Majors are expected to study, usually during the junior year, in a Spanish-speaking country. The department sponsors the Vassar-Wesleyan Program in Madrid (academic year) study abroad program, open to all qualified students.

Advisers: The department.

I. Introductory

105a. Elementary Spanish Language (1)

Fundamentals of the grammar and structure of the Spanish language with emphasis on oral skills and reading.

Year-long course, 105-106.

Open to students with no previous instruction in Spanish.

Five 50-minute periods; one hour of laboratory or drill.

Offered Alternate years.

106b. Elementary Spanish Language (1)

Fundamentals of the grammar and structure of the Spanish language with emphasis on oral skills and reading.

Year-long course, 105-106.

Open to students with no previous instruction in Spanish.

Five 50-minute periods; one hour of laboratory or drill.

Offered Alternate years.

109a or b. Basic Spanish Review (1)

Fundamentals of the grammar and structure of the Spanish language with emphasis on oral skills and reading. Successful completion of this one-semester course fulfills the college language requirement.

Open to students with 1 or 2 years of high school Spanish.

Three 50-minute periods; one hour of drill.

II. Intermediate

205a or b. Intermediate Spanish (1)

Intensive study and review of Spanish grammar at the second-year level with emphasis on oral practice and writing skills. Mr. Vivalda.

Prerequisite: Hispanic Studies 105-106 or 109, or three years of high school Spanish.

Three 50-minute periods.

206a or b. Reading and Writing about Hispanic Culture (1)

Reading, writing and speaking skills are developed through study of cultural and literary texts and audiovisual materials. Mr. Grünfeld, Mr. Vivalda (a); Ms. Woods Peiró, Mr. Cesareo (b).

Prerequisite: Hispanic Studies 205 or four years of high school Spanish.

Two 75-minute periods plus one hour of oral practice.

216a or b. Methods in Interdisciplinary Analysis (1)

This course develops a set of methodological and theoretical tools for the investigation of cultural practices such as literature, popular and mass culture, social movements and institutions in Spanish-speaking countries. Mr. Cesareo (a); Mr. Grünfeld (b).

Prerequisite: Hispanic Studies 206 or permission.

Two 75-minute periods.

219b. Advanced Grammar and Composition (1)

This course offers an in-depth coverage of Spanish grammar with emphasis on reading and writing skills. A more traditional approach in grammar explanations is combined with the study of numerous examples and exercises based on everyday life. The objectives of this course are 1) to provide a thorough review of major topics of Spanish grammar—ser and estar, por and para, the preterit and the imperfect, sequence of tenses, conditional clauses, etc.; 2) to explore in-depth the different mechanics of writing in Spanish (punctuation, written accents, etc.); 3) to work on writing skills in Spanish through the use of various writing techniques and strategies—the art of writing narratives, dialogue, descriptions, letters, and reports; 4) to improve reading skills and knowledge of vocabulary and idiomatic expressions in Spanish; 5) to continue to increase cultural knowledge of the Spanish-speaking world. Through the use of the target language in class, this course also contributes to the general language acquisition process. Some translation work is required as well—contextualized passages in English translated into Spanish are used to illustrate a variety of grammatical principles. Mr. Vivalda.

Prerequisite: 216 or permission.

Two 75-minute periods.

225b. Writing Workshop (1)

The workshop provides a space for the development of the student's ability as reader and writer of texts in Spanish. Reading and writing assignments include journals, poetry, prose fiction, autobiography, and the essay. The theoretical readings and practical exercises are designed to enrich the student's ability to give form, texture and voice to their writing projects.

Prerequisite: Hispanic Studies 216 or 219.

Two 75-minute periods.

Alternate years.

226a. Medieval and Early Modern Spain (1)

Studies in Iberian literary and cultural production from the time of the Muslim conquest of the Peninsula to the end of the Hapsburg Empire.

Topic for 2010/11b: Al-Andalus: Medieval Muslim Culture in the Border Zone. Muslim armies entered the Iberian Peninsula from North Africa in 711 c.e., and there was still armed resistance against the Christians for more than a century after Ferdinand and Isabel proclaimed "mission accomplished" in 1492. This course examines the distinctive culture of al-Andalus (medieval Muslim Iberia), created during that long period. Study is oriented around three monuments, representing three moments in cultural history: Madinat al-Zahra, a palatial city near Cordoba, where Muslim power was first consolidated in a caliphate; the Alhambra of Granada, a palatial complex in the last Iberian Muslim kingdom, and the high point of Andalusi art; and the Alcazar of Seville, a palace built by Muslims under Christian rule. The course sets the art, architecture and literature of al-Andalus in the context of other Muslim lands, especially the uneasy relationship with North Africa. There is some consideration of the Muslim influence on Christian Spain and the Jewish communities of al-Andalus. Finally, some attention is devoted to the new Friday Mosque of Granada and the return of Muslim culture to contemporary Spain through recent North African immigration. Ms. Bush.

Prerequisite: Hispanic Studies 216 or 219.

Two 75-minute periods.

227b. Colonial Latin America (1)

Studies in Latin American literary and cultural production from the European invasion to the crisis of the colonial system. Mr. Bush.

Prerequisite: Hispanic Studies 216 or 219.

Two 75-minute periods.

228b. Modern Spain (1)

Studies in Spanish literary and cultural production from the beginning of the Bourbon monarchy to the present.

Topic for 2010/11b: Women and Mobility in Modern Spain. This course analyzes womens' space and place in a range of cultural discourses in the twentieth century avant-garde fiction of the twenties; political essays and novels of the thirties and forties; mid-century female star culture and cinema fan magazines; women prison writing; novels written by women under censorship; women in Spanish Science Fiction; and finally women in and on digital media. Ms. Woods.

Prerequisite: Hispanic Studies 216.

Two 75-minute periods.

229a. Postcolonial Latin America (1)

Studies in Latin American literary and cultural production from the emergence of the nation states to the present. Thematically structured, the course delves into the social, political, and institutional processes undergone by Latin America as a result of its uneven incorporation into world capitalist development.

Topic for 2010/11a: The Culture of Militarized Neo-liberalism in Argentina. The course explores cultural production in Argentina during the time of militarized neo-liberalism and its aftermath (1976 to the present). The political, economic and social processes set in motion by the repressive de facto regime of the 1970's and 80's had dramatic effects upon the national culture, inaugurating a series of problematics still being worked out in Argentinean contemporary cultural production. The course looks critically into a multiplicity of cultural artifacts to discern some of the meanings and tensions that lie variously hidden, displayed, and elaborated in their dramatic dimension. The body of textures studied will include the political essay, fiction and documentary films, the novel, short stories, social protest and demonstrations, memorializing practices, and poetry. Class discussion gravitates toward problematizing topics and practices such as: violence, memory, the body, absence, social and individual trauma, human rights, exile, torture, the crisis of the nation state, censorship, historical discourse, national security doctrine, preventive warfare, civil society, political discourse, politics as social drama, etc. Ultimately, the course aims at: 1) providing a model for understanding the cultural production under militarized conditions that characterized a number of Latin American countries during the latter part of the twentieth century, and b) theorizing the articulations between political structure, collective social trauma, and aesthetic forms. Mr. Cesareo.

Prerequisite: Hispanic Studies 216 or 219.

Two 75-minute periods.

290a or b. Field Work (1/2 or 1)

Individual projects or internships. The department.

Special permission.

Prerequisite: 1 unit of Hispanic Studies 205 or above.

298a or b. Independent Work (1/2 or 1.5)

Prerequisite: 2 units of Hispanic Studies 226 or above. The department.

III. Advanced

300b. Senior Thesis (1)

The department.

387a or b. Latin American Seminar (1)

A seminar offering in-depth study of topics related to the literary and cultural history of Latin America. This course may be repeated for credit when the topic changes.

Topic for 2010/11a: Latin American Avant-Garde. In this seminar we study some of the most important Latin American Avant-Garde texts from the beginning of the twentieth century. Through poetry, narrative, film and fine arts we identify the aesthetics of the avant-garde movement, investigate its relationship to social commitment, nationalism and feminism, and examine the relationship between Latin American and European vanguards. Authors may include: Miguel Angel Asturias, María Luisa Bombal, Oliverio Girondo, Nicolás Guillén, Vicente Huidobro, Pablo Neruda, Pablo Palacio, Magda Portal and César Vallejo. Mr. Grünfeld.

One 2-hour period.

Topic for 2010/11b: The Bolero and the Novel in Latin America. The bolero, the "most popular lyric tradition in Latin America,” has had a significant impact on the development of the novel in Latin America and the Hispanic Caribbean, from the literary "Boom" of the sixties and seventies to the present. The seminar will examine the roots and history of the bolero from its origins in Cuba in the first decades of the 20th century to its most recent manifestations in the work of singers and composers like Juan Luis Guerra and Alejandro Fernández. We will also examine the impact of the bolero in novels such as Ella cantaba boleros by Guillermo Cabrera Infante, La importancia de llamarse Daniel Santos by Luis Rafael Sánchez, Pubis angelical by Manuel Puig, Arráncame la vida by Angeles Mastreta, Sólo cenizas hallarás: Bolero by Pedro Vergés, Quién mató a Palomino Molero by Mario Vargas Llosa, La última noche que pasé contigo by Mayra Montero, and Te di la vida entera by Zoé Valdés . Ms. Paravisini-Gebert.

One 2-hour period.

388a. Peninsular Seminar (1)

A seminar offering in-depth study of topics related to the literary and cultural history of Spain. This course may be repeated for credit when the topic changes.

Topic for 2010/11a: Sex and Tears: Almodóvar, Melodrama, and the Refashioning of Spain. The internationally hailed, critically acclaimed, two-time Academy award winning Spanish film director, Pedro Almodóvar has enjoyed numerous government, academic, and film industry-sponsored retrospectives, publications, and symposia. This course examines the Almodoverian corpus of film and in order to understand the dominant aesthetic mechanisms and themes in his work in the context of post-Franco Spain. In addition to analyzing films and drawing from the rich bibliography of cultural criticism on Almodóvar, we will look at the mix of high and low inter-texts that make Almodóvar’s filmmaking so complex. These range from Classic Hollywood films and Spanish pop culture of the “Movida,” to avant garde movements and references to Spain’s most revered cultural and historical icons. Almodóvar’s cinema serves as guides for our exploration of melodrama, the dissection of sexuality and gender relations, the meaning of modernity in modern Spain, and needless to say, his outrageous world of characters on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Ms. Woods.

Topic for 2010/11b: Violence, Honor and Gender Construction in Golden Age Theater. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the Spanish theater became immensely popular, and moved from palace to public theater and town square. In Spain and its colonies, theater plays began to depict a culture obsessed with honor, where a man resorted to violence when his or his wife’s honor was threatened through sexual disgrace. The seminar explores the character of this violence as a result of the strict application of the “honor code”, a complex social and rhetorical strategy whereby both men and women decided how to dispute issues of truth and reputation. Readings include selected plays by Lope de Vega, Tirso de Molina, Caldern de la Barca, Mara de Zayas, and Sor Juana Ins de la Cruz. Mr. Vivalda.

One 2-hour period.

399a or b. Senior Independent Work (1/2 or 1)