Hispanic Studies Department

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.



Correlate Sequence in Hispanic Studies


Hispanic Studies: 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.

Open to students with no previous instruction in Spanish.

Yearlong course 105-HISP 106.

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.

Open to students with no previous instruction in Spanish.

Yearlong course HISP 105-106.

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.

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

Topic for 2014/2015b: Great Works of Latin American Literature in Translation I. This course explores some of the defining narratives of twentieth century Latin American fiction. Authors such as J.L. Borges, Juan Rulfo and Gabriel García Márquez, among others, are discussed from a multidisciplinary perspective. Mr. Cesareo.

Two 75-minute periods.

Hispanic Studies: 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:HISP 105-HISP 106 or HISP 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. Ms. Woods, Ms. Guzman (a), Mr. Vivalda (b).

Topic for 2014/15a: Migraciones y encuentros forzados o soñados. This course introduces Spanish and Latin American history and culture while it develops reading, writing and speaking skills in Spanish. Through the study of cultural and literary texts (plays, short stories, poetry and essays) and audiovisual material (fiction, documentary and experimental films, music, painting, comics and digital arts) we cover a series of twentieth-century historical events that inspired the intellectual and artistic production of both Spanish and Latin American artists, writers and filmmakers. Ms. Woods.

Topic for 2014/15a: Indigenous Currents of Thought in Latin America: Subversive Influences and Connections. In this course, we will focus on indigenous epistemologies in Latin America. We will study non-Western conceptions of reality and history in different indigenous texts and performances. In order to do so, we will examine how contemporary indigenous thinking is related to the colonial system that began in the sixteenth century and remains today. Reviewing historical details about constitutive moments in Latin America, including the development of the first indigenous government in the region (Bolivia), will permit us to understand the political significance of our texts. Material for this class will include texts from the colonial period to the present, along with mythic narratives, poetry, songs, performances and films. At the same time, we will review important grammatical structures for improving writing and speaking in Spanish. Improvement of Spanish language skills will be one of the main goals of this class. Ms. Guzman.

Topic for 2014/15b: Censorship and Human Rights in Latin America. Human rights literature assumes a very personal yet collective voice that inserts itself within the ample boundaries of communal history. This semester we will explore several literary texts that encompasses the human experience of suffering and redemption through an aesthetic that urges for responsibility and action on the reader's part, as well as critical thinking and responsiveness. The selection of works we will analyze shows the strength of a literature that denounces and questions, that defies censure and denounces the moral vacuum in which the abuses took place. The course will look at a variety of texts and cultural artifacts -testimonial narratives, short stories, novels, and visual arts projects- seeking to understand problems of subjectivity, memory and subalternity in Latin America's long history of oppression. Mr. Vivalda.

Prerequisite: HISP 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. Cesareo (a); Ms. Paravisini (b).

Topic for 2014a/15: Reading and Writing Short Stories. This course explores ways of reading the Latin American short story in the context of its historical development, while unctioning as a creative writing workshop in Spanish. Mr. Cesareo.

Topic for 2014/15b: Latin American Culture through Music. This 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: HISP 206 or permission of the instructor.

Two 75-minute periods.

219a and b. 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: HISP 216 or permission of the instructor.

Not offered in 2013/14.

Two 75-minute periods.

225a and b. 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: HISP 216 or HISP 219.

Alternate years. Not offered in 2014/15.

Two 75-minute periods.

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 2014/15a: Pícaras, Busconas and Celestinas: Reading the Discourse on Prostitution in Early Modern Spain. This course considers how the discourse on early modern prostitution present in literary and legal sources informs us on the larger social framework that regulates women's behavior in sixteenth and seventeenth century Spain. Through the study of a variety of legal measures and moral treatises that define the boundaries of sin in Early Modern Spain, we trace the rich symbolic and literary trajectory of the pícara-prostitute. From this sociological perspective, our focus explores the reasons behind the popularity of the female picaresque genre, paying special attention to the anxieties that the regulation of prostitution caused in Spanish society. Materials for analysis include selections of legal texts, moralist writings and literary works by Francisco Delicado, Miguel de Cervantes, and María de Zayas. Mr. Vivalda.

Prerequisite: HISP 216 or HISP 219.

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.

Prerequisite: one course above HISP 206.

Not offered in 2014/15.

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 2014/15b: Road Trips. The course introduces a wide range of literary expression (novel, essay, travelogue, poetry, drama) from the thwarted Spanish Age of Enlightenment in the eighteenth century to the present-day Spain of revived regionalism and massive immigration, by way of the geographical imagination. Texts under study offer close observation of the particularities of landscapes and cityscapes and their implications for the local and national imaginary, collective memory and both religion and politics in modern Spain. Much attention is devoted to questions about insider and outsider perspectives and the vicissitudes of dialogue between them. Mr. Bush.

Prerequisite: HISP 216.

Two 75-minute periods.

229a. Postcolonial Latin America (1)

(Same as LALS 229) 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 2014/15a: El Cuento Rioplatense. The course discusses canonic Southern Cone authors such as Quiroga, Borges, Onetti, Cortázar, Benedetti and Valenzuela from a multidisciplinary perspective. Mr. Cesareo.

Prerequisite: HISP 216 or HISP 219.

Two 75-minute periods.

290a or b. Field Work (1/2to1)

Individual projects or internships. The department.

Prerequisite: one unit of HISP 205 or above.

Special permission.

298a or b. Independent Work (1/2to1.5)

The department.

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

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

Hispanic Studies: III. Advanced

300b. Senior Thesis (1)

The department.

387a or b. Latin American Seminar (1)

(Same as LALS 387) 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 2014/15a: Detective Fiction in Latin America. This seminar examines the unique literary origins and development of detective fiction in Latin America in different national, political, and cultural contexts to inquire how specific genres of detective fiction and film correspond to particular issues of organized crime, class and ethnic difference, governability, corruption, quotidian violence, urbanization, and the media across Latin America. Mr. Aronna.

Topic for 2014/15b: New Argentine Cinema. The seminar follows the appearance and development of the Argentine New Wave, from the mid-1990s to the present. These films have initiated a new direction in Argentine and Latin American film, as they try to find new narrative forms that symbolically articulate and transform the radical crises-cultural, national and economic-that neoliberalism and its aftermath brought to the Argentine landscape. In the process, new voices, ethnic communities, sexualities and social sensibilities emerge, questioning established ways of thinking and looking at the nation and its uneasy fragments. The emerging result has been a boom in production that publics and film festivals worldwide have recognized through accolade, prizes, worldwide distribution and critical praise. Films by auteurs such as Adrián Caetano, Martín Rejtman, Pablo Trapero, Lucrecia Martel will be discussed, bearing on themes such as the circulation of bodies and labor, nation, migration and globalization, memory and subjectivity, the eye vs. the gaze, the spheres and politics of social space, and the political unconscious of melodrama and allegory within the context of subalternity and the Third World. Mr. Cesareo.

Prerequisite: HISP 216 and one course above 216.

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 2014/15b: 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 considers 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 focuses 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 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.

Prerequisite: HISP 216 and one course above HISP 216.

One 2-hour period.

399a or b. Senior Independent Work (1/2to1)

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