Latin American and Latino/a Studies Program

The Latin American and Latino/a Studies Program provides a multidisciplinary approach to the study of Latin America and the Latino/a populations of the Americas. The program allows students to explore the multiplicity of cultures and societies of Latin and Latino/a America in ways that acknowledge the permeability, or absence, of borders.

Requirements for Concentration: 12 units, including Latin American and Latino/a Studies (LALS) 105, work above the introductory level in at least three departments, and a competency in Spanish or Portuguese through the third-year level (at least one course beyond Hispanic Studies 216, or Portuguese 310-311, or the equivalent). Maximum of 4 units of language instruction may count toward the concentration, not including intermediate- and advanced-level literature courses. To fulfill the “methods” course requirement for the major, students are required to take one of the following: Hispanic Studies 216, Anthropology 245, Sociology 254, Political Science 207 or Political Science 273. Students are required to take at least 1 course that focuses on the period prior to 1900, chosen from among the following: Anthropology 240, Hispanic Studies 227, History 262, History 263. In the senior year, students may write a multidisciplinary thesis under the co-direction of two thesis advisers, one of whom must be a participating program faculty member. Students may also conduct a community-based senior project, again under the co-direction of two project advisers, one of whom must be a participating program faculty member.  The senior project must go well beyond a fieldwork experience, and it will require a well-defined written component. If a student chooses not to write a thesis or conduct a senior project, which is required for honors upon graduation, he/she may replace it with a- 300-level course with program approval. In fulfillment of the major, each student should elect 12 units from the LALS approved and/or cross listed courses according to these guidelines: no more than 2 units at the 100-level; and at least 3 units at the 300-level, which may include a 1-unit graded senior thesis, the Latin American and Latino/a Studies Program senior seminar, and a seminar by an instructor other than the one responsible for the senior seminar. After the declaration of the major, no courses counting for the major may be elected NRO. Students interested in Latin American and Latino/a Studies should consult with the director or a participating faculty member as early as possible to discuss their program of study. The Latin American and Latino/a Studies Program strongly recommends a structured academic experience beyond Vassar relevant to the student’s program during the junior year, either in Latin America or at an appropriate domestic institution.

Requirements for the Correlate Sequence: 6 units, including Latin American and Latino/a Studies 105, (1) either History 262, 263, or 264; (2) a minimum of four other courses in at least three different departments. At least two courses at the 300-level, including the Latin American and Latino/a Studies senior seminar and a seminar taught by an instructor other than the one responsible for the senior seminar, are required; these must be taken at Vassar. A maximum of 2 units of ungraded work done in a structured academic experience beyond Vassar may be counted toward the major. One year of college-level study or the equivalent in either Spanish or Portuguese must be demonstrated. Students should prepare a proposal for the correlate sequence in Latin American and Latino/a Studies after consulting the courses listed in the catalogue and discussing the sequence with an adviser in the program, as there may be other appropriate courses that are not currently listed. All proposals should include some discussion of the focus of the coursework, and must be approved by the program. One course may be “double counted” for a major and a correlate sequence.

For descriptions and timing of the courses offered, please consult the department listings in this catalogue and an updated Schedule of Classes. Additional courses may be approved for the major upon petition to program faculty.

In addition to the Program and cross-listed courses listed above, there are approved courses given in other departments and programs that can count toward a Latin American Latino/a Studies (LALS) major or correlate. Look under the respective departments for course descriptions and semester or year offered. An updated list of approved courses is available in the LALS program office and on-line on the LALS Program web site before preregistration. Students are also urged to consult the additional course offerings of LALS Program faculty members listed under their home departments. While these courses may not focus specifically on Latin America and Latino/a America, they often include case studies or materials related to the regions. In addition, LALS faculty approaches and methodologies in such courses may be beneficial to the major and therefore LALS-approved.

I. Introductory

105b. Conceptualizing Latin and Latino/a America (1)

An introduction to the basic concepts, theories, and methodologies necessary for the multidisciplinary study of Latin American and Latino communities. The focus of the course varies from year to year according to the topic selected by the instructor.

Topic for 2010/11b: Bilingual Education and the Schooling of Language and Cultural Minority Students in Latin America and the United States. Bilingual education is the instruction of minority groups through the use of their native language and, gradually, another language such as Spanish or English; it is a practice that is under constant attack. In this course, we address bilingual education policies and practices that deal with the circular migration of Latin Americans to the United States and to other countries. We identify the challenges to multiculturalism and bilingualism in U.S. and Latin American educational settings, and the factors inhibiting or fostering the social and spatial mobility of ethnic and cultural minority populations. Finally, we examine resistance to monolingual and cultural policies in the form of student-led social movements; ones that have given rise to increased bilingual and multicultural education for minority students in Latin America and the United States. Ms. Holland.

II. Intermediate

226b. Framing Poverty and Social Mobility: the Picaresque Novel in Spain and Latin America (1)

(Same as Hispanic Studies 226b) The emergence of the picaresque novel in Spain and its migration to the "New World" forms one of the most fascinating chapters in the history of the novel. The protagonist of these texts is a social underdog (Spanish " pícaro")who experiences different adventures as he drifts from place to place and from one social milieu to another in his struggle to survive. His efforts to "medrar" or improve his social standing are presented against a social background that proves itself to be deceiving and highly volatile. The course examines a broad selection of texts -literary and filmic-, ranging from the picaresque genre's foundational Spanish texts to later Latin American works that recreate this tradition in the specific historical and cultural conditions of the Americas. Mr. Vivalda

Prerequisite: Hispanic Studies 216 or 219.

Two 75-minute periods.

230b. Latina and Latino Literature in the U.S. (1)

(Same as English 230b). Mr. Perez

240a. Andean Worlds (1)

(Same as Anthropology 240)

Topic for 2010/11a: Mesoamerican Worlds. An intensive survey of the culture, history, and politics of several neighboring indigenous societies that have deep historical and social ties to territory now located in Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, and Honduras. This course explores the emergence of powerful Mesoamerican states with a cosmology tied to warfare and human sacrifice, the reconfiguration of these societies under the twin burdens of Christianity and colonial rule, and the strategies that some of these communities adopted in order to preserve local notions of identity, and to cope with or resist incorporation into nation-states. The course also introduces students to a selection of historical and religious texts produced by indigenous authors. After a consideration of socio-religious hierarchies, and writing and calendrical systems in Precolumbian Mesoamerica, the course focuses on adaptations resulting from interaction with an evolving colonial order. The course also investigates the relations between native communities and the Mexican and Guatemalan states, and examines the representation of indigenous identities, the rapport among environmental policies, globalization, and local agricultural practices, and indigenous autonomy in the wake of the EZLN rebellion. Students proficient in Spanish will be encouraged to use original sources for course projects. Mr. Tavarez.

242b. Brazil: Society, Culture, and Environment in Portuguese America (1)

(Same as Geography 242b and Africana Studies 242b) Mr. Godfrey.

251. Development and Social Change in Latin America (1)

(Same as Sociology 251) This course examines the ways in which Latin American and Caribbean nations have defined and pursued development and struggled for social change in the post World-War II era. We use country studies and development theories (including Modernization, Dependency, World-Systems, Feminist and Post-Structuralist) to analyze the extent to which development has been shaped by the tensions between local, national, and international political and economic interests. Within this structural context we focus on people and their relationships to each other and to a variety of issues including work, land, reproductive rights, basic needs, and revolution. Integrating structural analysis with an analysis of lived practice and meaning making allows us to understand development as a process that shapes, but is also shaped by, local actors. Ms. Carruyo.

Not offered in 2011/12.

253a.Children of Immigration (1)

(Same as Sociology 253a) Immigration to the U.S. since the 1970s has been characterized by a marked and unprecedented increase in the diversity of new immigrants. Unlike the great migrations from Europe in the late 1800s and early 1900s, most of the immigrants who have arrived in the U.S. in the last four decades have come from Latin America, Asia, and the Caribbean. New immigration patterns have had a significant impact on the racial and ethnic composition and stratification of the American population, as well as the meaning of American identity itself. Immigrants and their families are also being transformed in the process, as they come into contact with various institutional contexts that can facilitate, block, and challenge the process of incorporation into the U.S. This course examines the impact of these new immigration patterns by focusing on the 16.4 million children in the U.S. who have at least one immigrant parent. Since 1990, children of immigrants - those born in the U.S. as well as those who are immigrants themselves - have doubled and have come to represent 23% of the population of minors in the U.S. In this course we study how children of immigrants are reshaping America, and how America is reshaping them, by examining key topics such as the impact of immigration on family structures, gender roles, language maintenance, academic achievement, and identity, as well as the impact that immigration reforms have had on access to higher education, employment, and political participation. This course provides an overview of the experiences of a population that is now a significant proportion of the U.S. population, yet one that is filled with contradictions, tensions and fissures and defies simple generalizations. Ms. Rueda.

287. Sociology of Consumption (1)

290a or b. Field Work (1/2 or 1)

By special permission.

297a or b. Reading Course (1/2)

297.02. Indigenous Mexico.

297.03. Chronicles of the Conquest. 

297.04. Latino Writings.

297.05. Socio-Political Thought in Latin America.

297.06. Latin American Cinema. 

297.08. Syncretic Religions of the Caribbean and Latin American. 

297.09. The Legacy of the Plantation in Caribbean and Latin American.

297.10. Cultures of the Amazon.

297.11. Native Peoples of the Andes.

By special permission.

298a or b. Independent Research (1/2 or 1)

By special permission.

III. Advanced

300a. Senior Thesis (1/2)

Year-long course, 300-301.

301b. Senior Thesis (1/2)

Year-long course, 300-301.

302. Thesis (1)

303. Senior Project (1/2)

US Latino/a studies programs have their origins in the joining of university students with grassroots organizers to create multidisciplinary curricula and initiatives recognizing the contributions of Latino communities. A senior project reflects that spirit. In conjunction with two faculty members, one of whom must come from the LALS steering committee, students formulate a project topic based on continuing community-based work they have done during their Vassar years. The project might be rooted in the local Latino/a community, or from sustained work in Latin America. Students submit a proposal and bibliography, develop a work plan, and follow the same schedule as thesis writers. The senior project must go beyond a fieldwork experience, and requires a well-defined written analytical component.

304. Senior Project (1/2)

351. Indigenous Literatures of the Americas (1)

This seminar provides the advanced student with an intensive investigation of theoretical and practical problems in specific areas of research that relate language and linguistics to expressive activity. Although emphasizing linguistic modes of analysis and argumentation, the course is situated at the intersection of important intellectual crosscurrents in the arts, humanities, and social sciences that focus on how culture is produced and projected through not only verbal, but also musical, material, kinaesthetic, and dramatic arts. Each topic culminates in independent research projects.

May be repeated for credit if the topic has changed.

Prerequisite: previous coursework in linguistics or by permission of instructor.

Topic for 2010/11a: (Same as Anthropology 351) Advanced Seminar in Plurilingualism. In this course students intensively examine contact linguistics, code-switching, and the ethnography of multilingualism. Several languages are examined with an emphasis on Spanish-English contact in the US. Students learn how to analyze plurilingual contexts through their own ethnographic participant-observation. Topics include (but are not limited to): youth language, code-switching, sociolinguistic methods, the English Only debate, US dialects, Spanglish, and language policy and politics. Mr. Mercado.

Topic for 2010/11b: (Same as Anthropology 351) Indigenous Literatures of the Americas. This course considers a selection of creation narratives, historical accounts, poems, and other genres produced by indigenous authors from Pre-Columbian times to the present, using historical, linguistic and ethnographic approaches. We examine the use of non-alphabetic and alphabetic writing systems, study poetic and rhetorical devices, and examine indigenous historical consciousness and sociopolitical and gender dynamics through the vantage point of these works. Other topics include language revitalization, translation issues, and the rapport between linguistic structure and literary form. The languages and specific works to be examined will be selected in consultation with course participants; they may include English translations of works in Nahuatl, Yucatec and Quich?? Maya, Quechua, Inuit, and/or other American indigenous languages. Mr. Tavarez.

360a. Amerindian Religions and Resistance. (1)

(Same as Anthropology 360a). Mr. Tavárez.

372b. Advanced Urban and Regional Studies (1)

One three-hour period.

381. Politics of Memory: Latin America in Comparative Perspective (1)

(Same as Political Science 381). Ms. Hite.

382a. Latin America and the Media (1)

(Same as Media Studies 382) This course explores how media production and theory in Latin America has, in contrast to Anglo-American-European media theory, required a theorization located in the conditions of postcoloniality, subalterity, diaspora, and transnationalism. We approach the cultural, economic and political dimensions of mass media through the works of media analysts such as: Jesús Martín Barbero (Colombia), Néstor García Canclini (Argentina and Mexico), Beatriz Sarlo (Argentina), Ariel Dorfman (Chile), Jorge González (Mexico), Nelly Richard (Chile), Renato Ortiz (Brazil) Carlos Monsivais (Mexico) and Guillermo Gómez Peña (Mexico) , Manuel Castells (Spain) among others. The course couples the exploration of Latin American media theory with analysis of media producers and phenomena as seen in local/global Television and Internet exchanges, media performance groups (for example, Yuyachkani), the Telenovela and B-movie industry, Third Cinema, pre-Colombian texts, graphics and comics, and urban-mediascapes. Questions we ask are: What are the forms of autochthonous media that have arisen out of the Latin American social reality? How do we theorize local and global media convergence, transmedia interactivity, and remediation in the context of the Hispanic Transatlantic. Ms. Woods.

383b. Nation, Race and Gender in Latin America and the Caribbean (1)

(Same as Sociology 383) With a focus on Latin America and the Spanish-speaking Caribbean this course traces and analyzes the ways in which the project of nation building creates and draws upon narratives about race and gender. While our focus is on Latin America, our study considers racial and gender formations within the context of the world-system. We are interested in how a complicated history of colonization, independence, post-coloniality, and "globalization" has intersected with national economies, politics, communities, and identities. In order to get at these intersections we examine a range of texts dealing with policy, national literatures, common sense, and political struggle. Specific issues addressed include the relationship between socio-biological theories of race and Latin American notions of mestizage, discursive and material "whitening," the myth of racial democracy, sexuality and morality, and border politics. Ms. Carruyo.

385a. Women, Culture and Development (1)

(Same as Sociology 385). Ms. Carruyo.

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

By special permission.

Approved Courses

In addition to the Program and cross-listed courses listed above, there are approved courses given in other departments and programs that can count toward a Latin American Latino/a Studies (LALS) major or correlate. Look under the respective departments for course descriptions and semester or year offered. An updated list of approved courses is available in the LALS program office and on-line on the LALS Program web site before preregistration. Students are also urged to consult the additional course offerings of LALS Program faculty members listed under their home departments. While these courses may not focus specifically on Latin America and Latino/a America, they often include case studies or materials related to the regions. In addition, LALS faculty approaches and methodologies in such courses may be beneficial to the major and therefore LALS-approved.

Africana Studies 105 Issues In Africana Studies (1)

Africana Studies 211 Religions of the Oppressed and Third World Liberation Movements (1)

Africana Studies 230 Creole Religions of the Caribbean (1)

Africana Studies 256 Environment and Culture in the Caribbean (1)

Africana Studies 262 Literature/Caribbean Diaspora (1)

Africana Studies 275 Caribbean Discourse (1)

American Culture 250 America and the World (1)

Anthropology 241 The Caribbean (1)

Anthropology 245 The Ethnographer’s Craft (1)

Economics 248 International Trade and the World Financial System (1)

Economics 273 Development Economics (1)

Education 235 Education and Immigration (1)

Education 288 Issues in Contemporary Education (1)

Education 367 Urban Education Reform (1)

Geography 250 Urban Geography: Built Environment, Social Space, and Sustainability (1)

Geography 266 Population, Environment, and Sustainable Development (1)

Geography 272 Geographies of Mass Violence (1)

Hispanic-Studies 105-106 Elementary Spanish Language (1)

Hispanic Studies 109 Basic Spanish Review (1)

Hispanic Studies 126 Medieval Muslim Control – Border Zone (1)

Hispanic-Studies 205 Intermediate Spanish (1)

Hispanic Studies 206 Reading and Writing about Hispanic Culture (1)

Hispanic Studies 216 Methods in Interdisciplinary Analysis (1)

Hispanic Studies 227 Colonial Latin America (1)

Hispanic Studies 229 Postcolonial Latin America (1)

Hispanic Studies 387 Latin America Seminar (1)

History 162 Latin America: The Aftermath of Encounter (1)

History 251 A History of American Foreign Relations (1)

History 262 Early Latin America to 1750 (1)

History 263 From Colony to Nation: Latin America in the Nineteenth Century (1)

History 264 The Revolutionary Option? Latin America in the Twentieth Century (1)

History 361 Varieties of the Latin American Indian Experience (1)

History 362 The Cuban Revolution (1)

History 363 Revolution and Conflict in Twentieth-Century Latin America (1)

International Studies 222 Urban Political Economy (1)

International Studies 286 Global Political Economy (1)

International Studies 380 Global Interdependency (1)

Music 136 Introduction to World Music (1)

Music 212 Advanced Topics in World Musics (1)

Political Science 207 Political Analysis (1)

Political Science 252 Politics of Modern Social Movements (1)

Political Science 255 Subaltern Politics (1)

Political Science 258 Latin American Politics (1)

Political Science 259 Human Rights and Politics (1)

Political Science 263 Critical International Relations (1)

Political Science 268 Politics of Globalization (1)

Political Science 273 Interpreting Politics (1)

Political Science 352 Seminar on Multiculturalism in Comparative Perspective (1)

Political Science 355 Seminar on Violence (1)

Political Science 358 Comparative Political Economy (1)

Political Science 363 Decolonizing and International Relations (1)

Portuguese a and b First, Second and Third Year of Spoken Language (Self-Instructional Language Program) (1)

Religion 211 Religions of the Oppressed and Third-World Liberation Movements (1)

Sociology 321 Feminism/Praxis Knowledge (1)

Sociology 254 Research Methods (1)

Sociology 269 Constructing School and Street Kids (1)

Sociology 381 Race and Popular Culture (1)

Sociology 388 Preparing Citizens/Producing Workers (1)

Women’s Studies 282 Women of Color in the U.S. (1)

Women’s Studies 388 Latina Feminisms (1)