Hispanic Studies Department

Requirements for Concentration: 10 units, Hispanic Studies 206 and above. These units must include 2 units from the group Hispanic Studies 226, 227, 228, 229, (including one focusing on Latin America and one on Spain) 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. Mr. Vivalda.

Yearlong course 105-106.

Open to students with no previous instruction in Spanish.

Four 50-minute periods; one hour of drill.

106b. Elementary Spanish Language (1)

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

Yearlong course 105-106.

Open to students with no previous instruction in Spanish.

Four 50-minute periods; one hour of drill.

109b. 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. Mr. Fink.

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

Three 50-minute periods; one hour of drill.

110. Latin American and Spanish Literacy and Cultural Topics (1)

Not offered in 2013/14.

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. Bush (a); Mr. Fink, Mr. Vivalda (b).

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. Cesareo (a), Mr. Grunfeld (b).

Topic for 2013/14a: Contemporary Popular Culture and Social Movements in Latin America. This semester we will explore some of the most salient social practices framing Latin America popular politics and culture: the irruption of the struggles of Latin American First Peoples, Women's movements, LGBT Rights, as well as the progressive responses to the global crisis of neoliberal politics (Venezuela's Revolución Bolivariana and Bolivia's Plurinational State being cases in point). The course will look at and interrogate some of the cultural artifacts through which these movements construct their sense of identity and deploy their politics strategically in the political struggles that constitute them. Mr. Cesareo.

Topic for 2013/2014b: Latin America: Past and Present. This course is an introduction to Latin American history and culture while it develops reading, writing and speaking skills in Spanish. Through the study of cultural and literary texts (short stories, poetry and essays) and audiovisual material (music, fine arts and films) we cover the main Latin American historical periods and also discuss the Hispanic presence of the United States. Some of the texts studied are: Popol Vuh, Nicolás Echevarría’s Cabeza de Vaca, María Luisa Bemberg’s Yo la peor de todasand Camila, the murals of Diego Rivera, Nicolás Guillén’s afro-Cuban poetry, Violeta Parra’s protest song, Luisa Valenzuela’s Cambio de armasand Luis Valdes’s Zoot Suit. Mr. Grunfeld.

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

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

216a and b. Topics in Multidisciplinary 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. Aronna (a); Ms. Paravisini (b).

Topic for 2013/14a: Fiction and Non Fiction in the Multidisciplinary Classroom. This course explores the literary, historiograhical, autobiographical, and ethnographic boundaries of hybrid forms of writing, film, popular culture, and art in Latin America. Our focus questions the aesthetic and scientific framing of these texts as we consider them from the perspective of cultural studies and the social sciences in order to arrive at an integral understand of their formal and social features. Mr. Aronna.

Topic for 2013/14b: Latin American Culture through Music. The course explores the history, culture and geographies of Latin America through its musical traditions, with particular attention to modern theories of cultural interpretation. Materials for analysis will include music videos, literary texts, film and art as we seek to piece together the social, anthropological and personal dimensions of the region's music. Ms Paravisini.

Prerequisite: Hispanic Studies 206 or permission of the instructor.

Two 75-minute periods.

219. 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. Ms. Woods.

Prerequisite: Hispanic Studies 216 or permission of the instructor.

Two 75-minute periods.

Not offered in 2013/14.

225. Writing or Translation Workshop (1)

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

Prerequisite: Hispanic Studies 216 or 219.

Two 75-minute periods.

Alternate years.

Not offered in 2013/14.

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 2013/14a: Framing Poverty and Social Mobility: the Picaresque Novel in Spain and Latin America. 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: one course above Hispanic Studies 206.

Two 75-minute periods.

227a. Colonial Latin America (1)

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

Topic for 2013/14a: Screening the Past: Filmic Adaptations of Latin American Colonial Society. This course considers how the Latin American, European, and American film industries have imagined, represented, and revised crucial moments and issues from Latin America’s colonial past with a special focus on the contemporary agendas of the filmmakers in their depiction of colonial society, culture, and politics. We study the diverse original colonial texts and sources which inspired these films and examine the cinematic techniques for the adaptation and revision of colonial perspectives, beliefs, and practices that seek to make them accessible and meaningful to contemporary audiences. Mr. Aronna. 

Prerequisite: one course above Hispanic Studies 206.

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 2013/14b: Virgins and Vamps: Women, Gender and Sexuality in Modern Spain. In this course we question how images of women have been produced and interpreted through the dichotomy of the virgin/whore. Through the study of a range of literary (novel, poetry, drama) and visual texts (photography, film, magazines, posters), we trace the ways in which this dualism has been promoted or undermined in order to uphold the interests of nationalism, population control, class hierarchies and religion. In order to guide our discussion we examine a small selection of works written by those who have endeavored to define the Spanish Woman: feminists, intellectuals, scientists, historians, doctors, priests, and nuns. Ms. Woods.

Prerequisite: one course above Hispanic Studies 206.

Two 75-minute periods.

229b. 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 2013/14b: The Latin American Short Story. (Same as Latin American and Latino/a Studies 229) The course explores some of the most salient and canonical short story fiction of Latin American literature in relation to their times, meanings and textual strategies. Works by Horacio Quiroga, Jorge Luis Borges, Julio Cortázar, Juan Rulfo, Gabriel García Márquez, Juan José Arreola, Luisa Valenzuela. (Course readings and class discussion in Spanish.) Mr. Cesareo.

Prerequisite: one course above Hispanic Studies 206.

Two 75-minute periods.

283a. The Virtual Barrio: Latin American and Latino Media (1)

(Same as Latin American and Latino/a Studies and Media Studies 283) This course aims to deepen our understanding of the complex media ecologies of Latin American and Latino contexts. Attending to how messages make meanings through a range of media—we study the role media play not only in the molding of ideas and opinions, but also in the constitution of subjectivities, social spheres, and non-human circuits of exchange (images, information, capital). Do theories of media and embodiment mean something different in this context, given the ways in which race, skin/hair color, cultural expectations, and history have inscribed themselves on the Hispanic body? Exploring mediation from the perspective of postcoloniality, transnationalism, and the local we thus examine the internet through the lens of recent developments in social movements (Chile, Mexico, Spain); film through the experiments of Third, Imperfect Cinema and Andean indigenous media practices; television through the genre and industry of the Telenovela; graphics through the traditions of murals, graphics and comics and the more recent transnational iconography of Ché Guevara; alternative youth culture through video and online gaming; and convergence through multi-media performances and installations. The course will be taught in English. Ms. Woods.

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: one unit of Hispanic Studies 205 or above.

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

The department.

Prerequisites: 2 units of Hispanic Studies 226 or above, and permission of the instructor.

Does not fulfill the requirement for 200-level work in the major or the correlate sequence.

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 2013/14a: The Poetry of Pablo Neruda. In this seminar we examine the works of the man Gabriel García Márquez once called "the greatest poet of the 20th century in any language.” In addition to studying selections from most of Neruda’s poetry, we read his autobiography Confieso que he vivido, his play Fulgor y muerte de Joaquín Murieta, his manifestos and essays, discuss the movie Il postino and study several documentaries about the poet’s life. By examining the different styles of Neruda’s poetry, we define the major poetic movements of twentieth century Latin America. Mr. Grunfeld.

Topic for 2013/14b: Literature and Its Discontents: Arlt, Puig, and the Return of the Repressed in the Argentine Novel. The seminar examines the novel as a hybrid practice where lettered and popular culture as well as working and middle class imaginaries, are made to cohere and emerge into national discourse. This meditation will focus on texts by Roberto Arlt (1900-1942) and Manuel Puig (1932-1990) two of the most innovative and influential Argentine writers of the twentieth century. The novels will be read from the perspective of their formal characteristics and as cultural and material interventions in the social field of their circulation and appropriation, while bearing on themes such as the circulation of bodies and labor, the nation, migration and globalization, memory and subjectivity, the spheres and politics of social space, and the political unconscious of melodrama and allegory, all within the context of subalternity. Readings and class discussion conducted in Spanish. Mr. Cesareo.

Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.

One 2-hour period.

388a or b. 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 2013/14a: Africa Begins in the Pyrenees: Race and Ethnicity in Spain. (Same as Africana Studies 388) This course aims to deepen our understanding of how racialization, and specifically the idea of Africa, have manifested in the Spanish national imaginary through literary, visual and socio-political discourses from the mid-nineteenth century to the present. Course discussions map out the contradictory social and aesthetic discourses that have attempted to define the Spaniard, and by extension, its Other. Our theorizations probe residual ethno-religious notions of race from the Christian, Jewish and Muslim co-habitation, the logics of assimilation used to discipline people of Roma descent, and the racial ideologies and practices employed to frame regional separatism, political groups, colonization in Africa and immigration. Course discussions and all written work are in Spanish. Ms. Woods.

Topic for 2013/14b: Violence, Honor and Gender Construction in Golden Age Theater. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the Spanish theatre became immensely popular, and moved from palace to public theatre 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, Calderón de la Barca, María de Zayas, and Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz. Mr. Vivalda.

Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.

One 2-hour period.

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

Special permission. Does not fulfill the requirement for 300-level work in the major or correlate sequence.