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. 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. Mr. Baretto.

Yearlong course 105-106.

Open to students with no previous instruction in Spanish.

Four 50-minute periods; one hour of drill.

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. Mr. Baretto.

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. Aronna, Mr. Baretto (a); 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. Bush (a); Ms. Woods, 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 of the instructor.

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. Ms. Woods.

Prerequisite: Hispanic Studies 216 or permission of the instructor.

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.

Not offered in 2012/13.

226b. 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 2012/13b: War and Culture in Imperial Spain. An analysis of the role of cultural production and practice as an essential component of the Spanish Empire’s imperial wars of expansion and conquest within the Iberian Peninsula, Europe, the Mediterranean, North Africa and the New World. Texts include lyric and epic poetry, narrative histories, centennial conferences, painting, museum installations, theological writings, architectural sites, drama, the visual arts and music that mobilize, authorize and commemorate Spanish imperial warfare from the late middle ages through the present day. The course explores and compares the language and imagery of Spanish Imperial conflict with Muslim, Christian and indigenous kingdoms and peoples. Mr. Aronna.

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.

Topic for 2012/13b: The "Utopia" of Latin America. ( Same as Latin American and Latino/a Studies 227) The notion that Latin America constituted an ideal place for the "discovery," recuperation or creation of a perfect society has been a constant theme in Latin American cultural and political discourse since the time of the conquest. The discourse of utopia in Latin America was informed by medieval European myth, indigenous and African longing for self-determination and the scientific and philosophical ideas concerning "natural man" of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. With independence, political and cultural rhetoric continued to redefine the notion of utopia in the context of national consolidation and cultural evolution. The course explores the many texts- literary, filmic, theological, political and sociological that belong to this tradition. Mr. Aronna.

Prerequisite: Hispanic Studies 216 or 219.

Two 75-minute periods.

228a. Modern Spain (1)

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

Topic for 2012/13a: Exploring the “Extremities of the Mind”: The Cinema of Luis Buñuel and the Hispanic Surrealist Movement. Originating in France, Surrealism soon spread to every corner of the globe. Painters and poets all over the world were attracted to the Surrealist endeavor, especially those living in Spain and Latin America. At least two of the most influential Spanish artists of the twentieth century, Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí, were destined to play a major part in the movement. An analogous role was reserved for Joan Miró, who famously declared the “assassination of painting” in favour of upsetting the visual elements of established art. Surrealist cinema, as epitomized by Luis Buñuel’s movies, resembled in this respect a knife cutting through the very heart of the establishment; a broad artistic experiment destined to reinvigorate reflection upon the categories of the uncanny and the irrational. In this sense Surrealism led to the creation of a new language, a new vision, and a vast body of exciting, innovative works that would ultimately revolutionize not only the way we perceive ourselves and the world around us but the way in which we translate this perception into words and images. Major creative figures are studied in three separate genres, Luis Buñuel and Alejandro Jodorowsky as film directors, Rafael Alberti and Octavio Paz as poets, and Salvador Dalí and Joan Miró as painters. This variety of approaches will help students appreciate the different facets of Surrealism and its distinctiveness in the Hispanic context. Mr. Vivalda.

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 2012/13a: 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, Mario Benedetti, Angélica Gorodischer, Margo Glantz, Marta Aponte Alsina, Marilyn Bobes, Hebe Hubart, Marta Cerda, Liliana Heker, among others. 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: one 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 2012/13a: Science Fiction, Horror and the Occult in Latin America. This seminar examines the unique origins and evolution of the literature and film of science fiction, horror and the occult in Latin America. The course will focus on the culturally heterogeneous and politically charged context of notions of nature, futurity, progress, dystopia, desire, the uncanny, anxiety, the repressed and the unknown that underlie these interrelated genres in Latin America. Mr. Aronna.

Topic for 2012/13b: Cortázar. The seminar will look at the oeuvre of Julio Cortázar (1914-1984), one of Latin America's most important fiction writers of the twentieth century. The works studied will include letters, novels and short stories. The course will explore Cortázar’s transgressive writing in the context of the urban experience, political exile, modernity and postmodernism, the writer’s commitment to the revolutionary movement, the fantastic, aesthetics, the Latin American Boom, the epistemological role of the playful spirit of the 1960s and 70s and its aftermath. Mr. Cesareo.

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 2012/13a: Exiles and Emigrants: Writing Spain from Abroad. This course looks at 20th Century Spanish history and culture from the point of view of Spanish intellectuals and artists living abroad. Exiled and emigrant communities in Latin America, Europe, Africa and North America offer unique perspectives on Spanish politics and ways of life, characterized often by bitter resentment and nostalgia. We examine works such as those written by Max Aub and Josefina Aldecoa in Mexico, Lino Novás Calvo in Cuba, Juan Ramón Jiménez in Puerto Rico, Ramón J. Sender and Federico García Lorca in the United States, Eduardo Blanco Amor in Argentina, Lucía Etxebarría, and Juan Goytisolo in Morocco. We also look at contributions to film, music and art by artists such as Luis Buñuel, Manu Chao and Salvador Dalí. Mr. Barreto.

Topic for 2012/13b: Madness, Irrationality, and Artifice: Facing the Limits of Fiction in Cervantine Narrative. Lionel Trilling once said “all prose fiction is a variation on the theme of Don Quixote." This class will consider the most “extreme” forms of narration that Miguel de Cervantes designed in order to deal with one of the critical philosophical and artistic concerns of its time: the problem of appearance and reality. There are many aesthetic innovations in Cervantes’ narrative model: the creation of a self-conscious narrator, the integration of a multiplicity of styles, the assimilation of many different narrative genres, the problem of various levels of fictionality, the transformation of events into experience through the manipulation of the point of view, the elaboration of a constant and pervasive irony, etc. This course will focus specifically on Cervantes’ reflections about the way people think, change, dream, and fantasize in their quest for deciphering the complex relationship established between illusion and reality. The students will explore two of the Exemplary Novels and several chapters of part 2 of Don Quixote in order to appreciate how Cervantes’ metafictional game came to be interwoven with a deep interest in determining the true nature of madness, perception, and the creative limits of baroque artifice. Mr. Vivalda.

One 2-hour period.