Courses

RLSP 101(F) SEM Elementary Spanish

This course focuses on grammar, elementary composition, practice in conversation, and reading of easy modern prose. It is taught by the intensive oral method. [ more ]

RLSP 102(S) SEM Elementary Spanish

This course is a continuation of RLSP 101. It focuses on grammar, elementary composition, practice in conversation, and reading of easy modern texts. It is taught by the intensive oral method. [ more ]

RLSP 103(F) SEM Intensive Intermediate Spanish

RLSP 103 (F) Intensive Intermediate Spanish. This course is a continuation of Spanish 101-102. It is designed to help students improve their proficiency in each of the major skill-groups (listening, speaking, reading and writing) while providing an introduction to the cultures of the Spanish-speaking world. Classroom activities and homework are designed to increase vocabulary and improve your ability to handle daily life in a Spanish-speaking country, to express your views on complex subjects such as art and politics, and to increase your knowledge of the cultural traditions of Latin America and Spain. Film screenings and readings in Hispanic literature, culture and politics will provide material for in-class discussion and some writing assignments. This course provides the linguistic and cultural training that is necessary to engage the diverse Spanish-speaking communities of Latin America, Spain and the US; it will help to prepare students for further literary and cultural studies as well as provide skills that are increasingly essential in fields such as medicine, law, and education. Conducted in Spanish. [ more ]

RLSP 104(S) SEM Intensive Intermediate Spanish, Upper Level

This course is a continuation of Spanish 103. During the spring semester we resume our work to expand your proficiency in each of the major skill-groups (listening, speaking, reading and writing) while increasing familiarity with the vibrant cultures of the Spanish-speaking world. Students in both sections of RLSP 104 can once again expect to sample a variety of written and audiovisual media -- poems and short fiction, essays, journalism, blogs and film -- to deepen their understanding of Hispanic cultures. However, Section 1 will have a more distinct focus on cinema: we will watch a series of classic and contemporary films and develop the specialized vocabulary and skills needed to analyze them in class discussions and student writing. Regardless of which section you are in, students in Spanish 104 can expect to write regularly and to meet with their professor, teaching associate and classmates in varying combinations for four hours each week. This course is designed to prepare students for further literary and cultural studies in Spanish -- including the challenges of study abroad -- and to hone communication skills that are increasingly essential in professional fields such as medicine, law, and education. Pasajes Lengua and its accompanying Cuaderno de Práctica will once again serve as our primary texts. Conducted in Spanish. For students who have not taken Spanish 103 at Williams, the departmental placement exam is required for enrollment in 104. [ more ]

RLSP 105(F) SEM Advanced Grammar, Composition, Conversation

In this course students will refine their knowledge of Spanish grammar and vocabulary towards further fluency in speaking and writing. The focus of the class is grammar through active engagement with relevant cultural, literary, and political materials centered for the most part on Spain. Students will produce regular grammar and composition exercises as well as oral reports. They will also meet with the Teaching Associate, in smaller groups, weekly. [ more ]

Taught by: Aroline Hanson

Catalog details

RLSP 106 LEC Advanced Grammar and Composition through Literature

Last offered Spring 2022

This course is designed for advanced students who wish to further polish and refine their grammatical, lexical, and writing skills in Spanish. The course may be taken immediately after 104, by placement exam results, or even after students have begun to sample the Department's literature and culture offerings at the 200- and 300-level. Classic works of short fiction by celebrated Latin American authors such as Gabriel García Márquez and Julio Cortázar will be discussed; selected Latin American films will be viewed as well. For written and oral assignments: weekly essays, in-class presentations, and language-laboratory activities. Conducted in Spanish. [ more ]

RLSP 107 LEC Advanced Grammar and Conversation

Last offered Fall 2021

How is Spanish language relevant to my academic field? What linguistic and cultural resources should I acquire to effectively communicate my academic interests in this language? How do I prepare for a professional presentation in Spanish? What are the limitations of the academic language at the moment of interacting with people in the community? The Advanced Grammar course 107 will provide cultural and linguistic resources to address the questions above and other common concerns that students have around their proficiency and skills to communicate effectively. This course focuses on helping students to advance their cultural and communicative skills in Spanish, as they share their professional interests with other students. The class will discuss four general topics -medicine, history and human rights, art, and environmental issues-, which will create the context for students to conduct oral presentations and activities around their own academic fields. Another important emphasis of the course will be to connect students' professional interests to current issues of social justice in USA, Latino America and other world countries. To expand their cultural and linguistic knowledge, participants will prepare two different types of oral activities for the class: formal-academic presentations and non-formal activities that use colloquial registers. The RLSP 107 course will require a constant and committed collaboration between participants. [ more ]

Taught by: Carolina Melgarejo-Torres

Catalog details

RLSP 201(F) SEM The Spanish Labyrinth

How can you learn to separate the stereotypical images of Spain from reality? How can we talk about one "Spain", when the country a complex composite of ancient and diverse cultural remnants mixed with recent influxes of immigrants and separatist movements? How has the vulnerable peninsula survived centuries of violent upheavals and divisiveness; dramatic economic rises and collapses? How has the Covid-19 pandemic affected Spain's health system, demographics, and international economy? This course aims to offer students a strong foundation in Spanish issues, whether they have already spent time abroad, or hope to do so in the future. In this course we will approach Spain by studying examples of its literary and artistic production, from periods of brilliant cultural exchange, and times of censorship, repression, and crisis. Some topics of focus will be the Inquisition, the Civil War, contemporary Spain's obsession with its own recent past, and its uncertain future as it begins to recover from the effects of Covid. Secondary texts will also be provided for historical and socio-political background and reference. Conducted in Spanish. [ more ]

RLSP 202(S) SEM Introduction to the Analysis of Literature in Spanish

This course is intended for students who are considering a major in Spanish, including those who have recently completed RLSP 105, 107, or 200. Using a textbook, Aproximaciones al estudio de la literatura hispánica, we will study the fundamentals of genre analysis while reading selected works of prose, poetry, and drama from Latin America and Spain. In addition to studying the principles and techniques of literary analysis, this course will continue to develop your speaking, oral, writing, and reading comprehension skills. Conducted in Spanish. [ more ]

RLSP 203(F) LEC From Modernismo to El Boom de la Novela

A survey of some of the leading imaginative writers of Ibero America. Readings will begin with the modernista poets and go on to include fiction of Mexico by Rulfo, a wide sampling of verse by Pablo Neruda, and narratives of the "Boom" period by authors such as Borges, Cortázar, Lispector, and García Márquez. Conducted in Spanish. [ more ]

RLSP 204 LEC Hispanic/Bilingual Communities in USA: language and identity

Last offered Spring 2021

"Hispanic/Bilingual Communities in USA: language and identity" is a course for Heritage Learners with two different profiles: those who have acquired Spanish at home and those who have been learning the language at school. Students' own sense of affective connection with the language through their families will guide our reflection on Spanish as a social component that unifies multiple Hispanic communities in the USA. We will also discuss the dialectal, sociolectal and generational differences between the members of those speaking communities, and the implications of considering these groups as homogenous. The course will address the role that media, institutions and cultural products play in preserving and (re)defining Spanish in the USA. We will review the language and its variation through TV programs, music, magazines, and literature. Heritage Learners already have an important foundation of linguistic knowledge that prepares them for interaction in Spanish. In this course they will be asked to further extend their resources through constant grammar and vocabulary practice. The course requires writing reports and larger texts, and the reading of an important amount of specialized texts in Spanish. Many of the daily activities will require teamwork. The course will meet 2 times per week: M, W, 1 hour 15 minutes per session. Students who have taken Spanish 209 can also register for this course. [ more ]

Taught by: Carolina Melgarejo-Torres

Catalog details

RLSP 205 LEC The Latin-American Novel in Translation

Last offered Fall 2018

A course specifically designed to enable students who have no knowledge of Spanish to read and discover those Latin-American authors who, in the twentieth century, have attracted world-wide attention. Among the texts to be discussed: Borges, Labyrinths; Cortázar, Blow-up and Hopscotch; Lispector, the Hour of the Star lesser works by Fuentes and Puig; and by Nobel Prize-winner Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude. Conducted in English [ more ]

RLSP 206 SEM Latin-American Civilizations

Last offered Spring 2021

An introduction to the multiple elements constituting Latin-American culture. Class assignments include readings from selected Latin-American essayists and screenings of classic films. Particular focus on the conflict between local and foreign cultural traditions. Areas to be considered: Spanish Catholicism, the influence of European liberalism and U.S. expansion, the Indian and African contribution, and the cultural impact of social revolution in Mexico and Cuba. Conducted in Spanish. [ more ]

RLSP 208 SEM The Spanish Civil War in Literature and Film

Last offered Spring 2015

The Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) has generated a vast bibliography and filmography that to this day reflect widely antagonistic interpretations of the conflict itself, its roots, and its impact. From the Spanish perspective, the war is the most important single event in understanding modern Spain. The ideals, passions, and consequences of the Spanish Civil War still divide Spaniards and have been recreated and relived by writers, artists, and filmmakers, and debated by historians. The course will begin with a historical introduction to the origins, development, and outcome of the war. Was the Spanish war a national struggle or an international struggle played out on Spanish soil? Along with studying internal Spanish political divisions, we will also consider the impact of the foreign policy positions of other countries-including Germany, Italy, the United States, and Russia--vis-a-vis Spain, as well as the role of the thousands of foreign volunteers who formed the International Brigades and came from all over the world to fight against Franco. With this historical basis, we will see how the themes and issues of the war are reflected in Spanish poetry, short fiction, novels, and films from the time of the war up through the present day. Readings will include works by Ayala, Cernuda, Neruda, Goytisolo, Sender, Fernan-Gomez, and Matute. Films will include documentaries as well as classic and contemporary features. Conducted in Spanish. [ more ]

RLSP 209(F) SEM Spanish for Heritage Speakers

This course is intended for students of Latino/a heritage. It will address the unique needs of students whose knowledge of Spanish comes primarily from informal and family situations rather than a conventional classroom experience. The goal of the course is to build on and expand students' existing knowledge of Spanish while developing skills for using the language in more formal/academic contexts. Conducted in Spanish. [ more ]

RLSP 211 LEC A Survey of Spanish Literature from the 11th to the 17th Centuries

Last offered Spring 2020

This course will introduce the student to some of the major works of Spanish literature from its beginnings through the Golden Age. We will study the historical context in which the works were written as well as the literary history of the periods in question. Students will learn methods of textual analysis through readings of relevant literary criticism. Readings will include selected canonical prose, poetry, and drama of the periods; special emphasis will be given to the myth of the coexistence of three religions in Iberia and the often misguided idea of dividing this literature into the categories of 'medieval' and 'Renaissance'. Conducted in Spanish.This course fulfills the pre-1800 requirement for the Spanish major [ more ]

RLSP 214 SEM "Ecologismo": Literature, Culture and the Environment in Latin America

Last offered Spring 2019

How have Latin American authors and artists responded to environmental concerns, from the logging and rubber booms that threatened the Amazon in the early 20th century to contemporary global warming? How do the realities of Latin American societies--including massive disparities of wealth and poverty; the cultural and political impacts of the region's indigenous populations; and the complex histories of colonialism, dependency and neoliberalism--inform Latin American responses to environmental issues? How does Latin America's environmental imaginary differ from those of the U.S. and Europe? In this course we will explore these issues and more through literature and other cultural texts from Latin America. We will consider short stories and novellas by authors including Horacio Quiroga (Uruguay), Luis Sepúlveda (Chile), Mempo Giardinelli (Argentina), and Ana Cristina Rossi (Costa Rica); poetry by Esthela Calderón (Nicaragua), Juan Carlos Galeano (Colombia), Homero Aridjis (Mexico); the paintings of Tomás Sánchez (Cuba); and feature films as well as shorter documentaries. In Spanish. [ more ]

RLSP 216 SEM Latin American Environmental Literature and Cultural Production

Last offered Spring 2021

This foundational course explores a wide array of ecocultural texts from Latin America, ranging from accounts of Europeans' first arrival to the crisis of mass extinction and anthropogenic climate change today. In between we consider an eclectic mix of styles and genres, including poetry, essays, prose fiction and speeches produced by a varied group of cultural agents. We read classic texts by canonical figures (José Martí's "Our América," the Popol vuh), which take on new meaning in the current context, as well as some little-known gems of ecological consciousness. Readings and discussion trace connections between environmental thought and the region's long and multi-layered history of colonialism, and students are encouraged to develop their own positions by responding to some of the leading theoretical discourses that animate the field of Latin American ecocriticism: decolonial and creole ecologies, ecofeminism, transcultural materialism, and postdevelopment. Conducted in English. [ more ]

RLSP 217 SEM Love in Early Modern Spain

Last offered Spring 2021

The principal focus of this course is the Spanish "comedia" of the seventeenth century (with supplemental readings from prose and poetry) to provide us with a dynamic and critical understanding of the theme of love as constructed by the greatest dramatists and authors of the period. Works by Lope de Vega, Tirso de Molina, Calderón, San Juan de la Cruz, Santa Teresa, María de Zayas, and others will show us how the theme was treated from diverse perspectives, and how it related to the social and political context of the time. Conducted in Spanish. [ more ]

RLSP 220(S) SEM Women on the Verge

From the early twentieth century to the present day, the radical changes in the lives of Spanish women have clearly reflected the tug of war between progress and tradition in recent Spanish history. The dramatic upheavals in Spanish politics have marked and transformed the lives of women to such a great extent that one can often gauge the political and social climate of any given historical moment by considering how the role of women was defined by the law, the Catholic church, education, and other social and political institutions. Using literary and historical texts as well as films and graphic materials, this course will look at the transformations in the public and private lives of Spanish women during the following periods: the turn of the century, the Second Republic, the Spanish Civil War, the Franco years, and the transition to democracy. [ more ]

RLSP 223 TUT Colonial Landscapes: Latin America's Contemporary Environmental Literature

Last offered Fall 2014

"It is not by coincidence that our societies are both racist and anti-ecological," wrote the Chilean sociologist Fernando Mires in his now-classic study, The Discourse of Nature. This tutorial explores works of contemporary literature that implicitly and explicitly link Latin America's ongoing environmental crisis to the region's long and multi-layered history of colonialism: novels by Sylvia Iparraguirre (Argentina), Mayra Montero (Puerto Rico), Giaconda Belli (Nicaragua), Luis Sepúlveda (Chile); poetry by Homero Aridjis (México); essays by Octavio Paz (Mexico), Eduardo Viveiros de Castro (Brazil), and more. Representing a wide variety of geographies, literary styles and ideological perspectives, these writers nevertheless converge in challenging us to consider the effects of environmental crisis within structures of power that are radically unequal at the local, national, and global levels; and to recognize that consciousness of environmental vulnerability can prompt new forms of inclusion and community as well as exclusion. Topics to be explored also include the role of indigenous cosmologies in contemporary environmental politics, the place of urban ecologies within the environmental imaginary, and the ongoing debates among academic critics and others regarding the scope and methodologies of ecocriticism as an approach to Latin American literature. Students have the option of tutorial in Spanish or in English; partners will be assigned accordingly. Each tutorial pair will meet with me for one hour during the week, during which time we will discuss a 5-page paper that one of the partners has submitted the night before. This adds up to a substantial amount of (reading and) writing for each student in the course, i.e., six 5-page essays over the course of the semester. [ more ]

RLSP 225 SEM Subalternity, Dictatorship, and the Dream of Emancipation: Paraguay, 1811-Present

Last offered Fall 2016

Paraguay is at once the most "typical" of Latin American countries and the most enigmatic. With a predominantly Guarani-speaking population, enormous disparities of wealth and poverty, and a political tradition that favors authoritarian dictatorship, Paraguay is also celebrated, in certain circles, as the only Latin American nation that actually achieved economic and political independence when the other republics were fast becoming economic dependencies of Britain and the US in the 19th century. This course explores the subjects of subalternity, dictatorship, and the "dream of emancipation" in Paraguay's cultural production of the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries. We will examine together the writings of the brilliant novelist Augusto Roa Bastos, especially Son of Man and I the Supreme; stories and poems by Teresa Lamas, Josefina Pla, and others; Paraguay's rich and vibrant tradition of visual art; and works of classic and contemporary film. Conducted in Spanish. [ more ]

RLSP 228 TUT Velázquez, Goya, and Picasso

Last offered Spring 2021

This course will provide an introduction to three major Spanish painters--Velázquez, Goya, and Picasso--who lived and worked, respectively, in the 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. Though these painters are world famous, they are rarely studied comparatively, and in the context of their Spanish artistic roots. The syllabus will cover the historical and social contexts in which they started working, and how they followed, and departed from, artistic conventions of the time. Through specific paintings, we will consider the historical evolution of the artists' relationship to their patrons and subjects, from the elite status of Velázquez within the royal court, to Goya's dramatic rise with the reigns of Charles III, and Charles IV, and his subsequent exile to France. Picasso was free of royal patronage and also lived in France, yet despite this freedom he remained deeply connected to the themes and concerns of his Spanish artistic predecessors. In addition to key paintings including Velázquez's "Las Meninas" and other royal portraits, Goya's "Maja Desnuda" and his series "The Disasters of War," Picasso's "Guernica," and his own 20th century reinterpretation of "Las Meninas," we will focus on the artists' shared subjects of portraits and war, and consider the following issues: How does the role of the Spanish artist change over the periods covered? How did the artist exercise his freedom whilst under the scrutiny of the court and the Catholic Church? How were these painters' lives and work shaped by key historical events such as the Inquisition, Napoleon's invasion of Spain, or the Spanish Civil War? How does the work of art evolve in its role from private royal commission to public display in museums open to all? We will read short literary pieces from each period, primary materials such as letters and other documents, and historical and critical works. All readings will be in English. Knowledge of Spanish is encouraged, but not required. [ more ]

RLSP 230 SEM Mexican Literature and Cultural Production

Last offered Fall 2020

This course will offer a survey of the rich and varied cultural production of Mexico, from the pre-Hispanic past to the present. Students will explore a variety of literary genres (pre-Hispanic poetry, creation stories and songs; chronicles of conquest; short works of prose fiction and novels; and modern poetry and essays) as well as other kinds of cultural production within a framework of historical contextualization and formal analysis. The course meets twice per week. Conducted in Spanish. [ more ]

RLSP 231(F) SEM Indigenous Writers of Colonial Mexico and Peru

This course examines the writings of 16th and 17th Century Indigenous authors of New Spain and colonial Peru. We will study the works of well-known Indigenous writers such as Hernando de Alvarado Tezozomoc, Fernando de Alva Ixtlilxochitl, El "Inca" Garcilaso de la Vega, and Guaman Poma de Ayala, as well as writings by lesser-known and anonymous Indigenous authors. Our focus on the historical contexts and formal aspects of their works will be supplemented and enhanced by a study of the critical methods of textual analysis that are particularly relevant to Indigenous texts, as facilitated by a set of selected critical readings. The course, in short, will aim to interrogate the idea of a "Spanish lettered city" (a colonial city dominated by Spanish men of letters) and will explore the possibilities of an "alter-native" lettered city, one in which Indigenous writing flourishes during times of crisis. Conducted in Spanish. [ more ]

RLSP 251 LEC Somos Sur: US-Mexico-Central American Borderlines

Last offered Fall 2019

What are borderlands? How have they been created? How do they affect the life of those who cross or are being crossed by these borders? This course focuses on the cultural production that explores US-Mexico-Central American borderlands and the diverse policies and practices that (re)create and (re)image these borders. In consideration of some of the dictatorships in Central America, the NAFTA agreement and post 9/11 policies, as well as war zones and the drug war; we will explore the concepts of citizenship, migration, nationalism, and (in)visibility in its intersection with gender, racial positioning, and social class. Drawing upon cultural studies, feminist theory, history, and ethnography we will examine materials such as photography, installation art, journalism, literature, film, and music. This interdisciplinary approach aims to shed light on the causes and consequences of the political, cultural, and economic narratives involved in our current understanding of these fronteras. This class is conducted in Spanish; readings will be in both English and Spanish. [ more ]

Taught by: Roxana Blancas Curiel

Catalog details

RLSP 259 Violent States, Violent Subjects: Nation-Building and War in 19th Century Latin America

Last offered NA

Although the massive, mechanized wars of the 20th century often overshadow earlier conflicts, the 19th century was also a period of widespread bloodshed in Latin America. First, of course, came the carnage of the Independence Wars, which was followed by decades of civil war (Mexico, Argentina, Peru, Uruguay, Colombia, Venezuela) and two bitter international wars--the Paraguayan War (1864-1870) and the Pacific War (1879-1883)--each of which would have a lasting impact on the countries involved. The restoration of peace brought economic development and new opportunities for dominant groups, but also the return of some of the most violent practices of the colonial period: indigenous peoples were conquered, their lands settled by whites or used for grazing cattle, and blacks (often despite the official abolition of slavery) met with new forms of exclusion, exploitation, and physical violence. In this tutorial we will explore the literary links between some of the violent conflicts listed above and the foundation of national identities in Latin America, reading texts that probe the social and ethical implications of State-sponsored violence. Issues to be explored include militarism and the development of nationalism; genocide and the national community; torture, truth and testimony; and the notion of 'civilization.' We will read one or two key precursors and a variety of 19th century texts that may include works by Juan Francisco Manzano, Esteban Echeverría, Ricardo Palma, Rosa Guerra, Dorotea Duprat de Lassere and Juan Crisóstomo Centurión, and Lucio V. Mansilla. In addition, we will read a few contemporary texts, written in the aftermath of the late-20th century dictatorships in the Southern Cone, that actively reflect on the long history of State-sponsored violence in Latin America (Ricardo Piglia, Diamela Eltit, Augusto Roa Bastos). Students will work in trios throughout the semester, each group meeting with the instructor once a week. Each week one of the students will present a 5-page paper on the assigned reading and one will be designated the official respondent, whose job is to lead a discussion of the paper. The third member of the group will turn in a revision of the previous week's paper. Prerequisites: one 200-level RLSP course or permission of instructor. Heritage learners, international students and second-language learners are all heartily welcome. Conducted in Spanish. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

Catalog details

RLSP 264 TUT Outcasts of the Lettered City: Nation-Building and the Margins in 19th Century Latin America

Last offered Spring 2022

Bandits, vagabonds, runaway slaves, and unruly women. Defeated soldiers. Afro-Colombian rivermen. Indigenous Americans and their white captives. Latin American cultural production of the 19th century is conventionally studied in terms of the urban intellectuals' projects of nation-formation in the aftermath of the long struggle for independence from Spain. This course examines that process from the outside, considering instead a series of literary and other writings that represent the marginalized others of the desired nation-state, the women and men, many of them Afro-descended, Indigenous and mixed race, who found themselves excluded from the new national community--or who preferred a life on the pampas, deep in the jungle, or somewhere else outside the confines of bourgeois society. Primary readings will be selected from among the following: Simón Rodríguez, American Societies in 1828, Juan Francisco Manzano, Autobiography of a Slave; Domingo F. Sarmiento, Facundo. Civilization and Barbarism in the Argentine Republic; José Hernández, Martín Fierro; Flora Tristán, Peregrinations of a Pariah; Juan Crisóstomo Centurión, Viaje nocturno, Federico Gamboa, Santa; Candelario Obeso, Popular Songs of My Land; Cirilo Villaverde, Cecilia Valdés, Lucio V. Mansilla, Excursion to the Ranquel Indians. We will also read a number of critical essays by leading scholars in the field of 19th century Latin American literature. [ more ]

RLSP 274 LEC Women's Contemporary Cultural Production in Latin America

Last offered Spring 2019

In Latin America, women have been largely displaced as historical subjects and reduced, in many ways, to symbolic figures or icons whose trajectories have been depicted as essential to the construction of diverse social projects within the context of patriarchal nation-states. Each country has formed a specific idea of what a woman is, and can be, through its cultural production, and this constant erasure/objectification has led to a complex problematic when it comes to addressing women as cultural producers. Keeping this in mind, in this course we will explore the concept of "Woman" as a representation and women as cultural producers in contemporary Latin America. We will address intersections of race/ethnic positioning, sexual identity, and social class to explore their role in the reception and understanding of the work of these female artists. Through the analysis of varied cultural production, the syllabus will present an interdisciplinary approach to the contributions of female artists to the cultural representation of race/ethnicity, masculinity, femininity, violence, sexuality, gender identity, nationalism, citizenship, and social movements. We will explore the work of artists such as Sara Castrejón, Nahui Ollin, Citlali Fabián, Amparo Dávila, Alejandra Pizarnik, Rosario Castellanos, Reina Roffé, Ana Tijoux, Lucrecia Martel, Chavela Vargas, Graciela Iturbide, Celia Cruz, Lucía Puenzo, Cecilia Barriga, Cristina Rivera Garza, María Novaro, Cristina Peri Rossi, Maruch Sántiz Gómez, Leonora Carrington, and Maris Bustamante, among others. In addition, we will read theoretical texts on diverse subjects corresponding to each specific cultural product. [ more ]

RLSP 280 LEC From Roma to Yalhalhj: Race and Identity Politics Through Contemporary Mexican Cultural Production

Last offered Spring 2020

In 2017, the National Institute of Statistics in Mexico (INEGI) used for the first time a color palette to measure individuals' skin tone. The study showed that "Mexicans who were classified by the interviewers as having darker skin tones tend to have lower levels of education and are worse off economically than their lighter-skinned counterparts" (Zizumbo and Flores, 2017). Raising controversy among those who would like to think of Mexico as a post-racial nation and those who recognize social inequality and discrimination on the basis of skin tone, the debate resonates in the way Mexican citizenship and cultural identity are both represented in mainstream media, even with the intention of showing diversity. The prevalent whitewashing dominating mass media in Mexico extends from advertisements to films, promoting an image of wealth and education intrinsically related to not only skin tone but also with race/ethnic positionality and gender. This course will explore the representation of these variables and their intersections through the analysis of photography, films, novels, paintings, reality shows, telenovelas, advertising campaigns, and music videos. In addition, we will take into account questions of representation, agency, and visibility addressed by cultural producers from pueblos originarios who do not consider themselves Mexican citizens. This class will be conducted in Spanish. [ more ]

Taught by: Roxana Blancas Curiel

Catalog details

RLSP 301(S) SEM Cervantes' "Don Quijote"

We will devote the semester to the study of one novel: Miguel de Cervantes' Don Quijote, published in the early part of the 17th century. We will try to understand the reasons for the novel's immense and ongoing influence. We will study Cervantes' handling of issues that continue to have relevance to our lives today: relationships, the role of fiction in life, the shapes of mental illness, how we show people who we think we are, how our governments, families and friends decide who we are, the fun and annoyance of going on a road trip with someone, the meaning of justice, and the meaning of storytelling, to name a few. In the process, we will set things in context to understand what was going on in Cervantes' world. Finally, we will find that even an entire semester was not enough to engage fully with this extraordinary work. Conducted in English using a contemporary translation. [ more ]

RLSP 303 SEM Cervantes' "Don Quijote"

Last offered Spring 2020

A close study, in Spanish, of one of the most influential and early European novels. Don Quijote by Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616 C.E) was a hit in its day in the seventeenth century, and has not ceased to influence artists and thinkers since. Moving between humorous and serious tones, Cervantes takes on several issues in the Quijote: the point of fiction in real life, the complications of relationships between men and women, the meaning of madness, the experience of religious co-existence, the shapes of friendship, and the task of literary criticism, just to name a few. We will read the book in a fine unabridged edition, and set it in several relevant contexts to better understand its original intellectual horizon as well as the reasons for its continuing relevance. [ more ]

RLSP 306 TUT Latino Writing: Literature by U.S. Hispanics

Last offered Spring 2017

Writing by U.S. Hispanics constitutes a new voice in American letters. In this tutorial, we will read and discuss work by U.S. Latinos and examine the social backgrounds to their texts. The experiences of immigration and assimilation, and the specific complexities of being both Hispanic and North American will be addressed. Authors to be studied: Jose Antonio Villarreal, Tomas Rivera, Richard Rodriguez, Sandra Cisneros, Rudolfo Anaya, Piri Thomas, Oscar Hijuelos, Cristina Garcia, Junot Diaz and historical texts by Carey McWilliams, and Rodolfo Acuña. Given the absence of a critical consensus around these recent titles, our task is to gain some sense of their common traits as a tradition, and place them within the larger body of literature of the Americas and the world. The tutorial will examine one work or set of authors per week. A student will bring, written out in full, an oral presentation focusing on the artistic features and sociocultural content of the assigned reading. Questioning of the presenter, on the part of the second tutee and the tutor, will follow. The course is designed to accommodate both Spanish and English speaking students. A student able to read and speak Spanish will be paired with another student of similar proficiency. Students who neither read nor speak Spanish will be paired together. [ more ]

RLSP 307 SEM The Short Stories of Miguel de Cervantes

Last offered Fall 2021

We will conduct a close study of the collection of short stories known as Las novelas ejemplares written by Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616 CE). The stories, though not as famous as Don Quijote, are as innovative and dynamic as the author's best-known novel. We will set them in the context of the political and artistic landscape of Spain in the early part of the 17th century to better understand their nature and function. In particular, we will pay attention to how social and individual identities are shaped in the stories, and the ways in which our own assumptions about identity work alongside those of these texts. [ more ]

RLSP 308 SEM Survey of Colonial Latin American Literature from 1492 to the Early 19th Century

Last offered Spring 2021

This course will focus on major works of Spanish American literature from 1492 through the first part of the 19th century. Readings will include narrative texts such as Cartas de relación, chronicles of conquest, religious texts, and indigenous annals, as well as poetry and drama. While many of the texts will focus on colonial Mexico, we will also study texts from Central and South America. We will focus on the historical contexts and formal aspects of these works, and study methods of textual analysis that are particularly relevant to these texts via selected critical readings. Special attention will be given to colonial encounters and the clash of cultures that produced new identities and textualities under Spanish colonial rule. The course meets twice per week. Conducted in Spanish. [ more ]

RLSP 319 SEM Dictatorship and the Latin-American Novel

Last offered Spring 2022

Military dictatorship is among the most crucial factors in Latin-American society and history, and some of the continent's leading novelists have taken it upon themselves to depict the experience in their work. In this course we will examine both the fact of dictatorship itself and the diverse representation thereof in Spanish-American fiction. Novels by García Márquez, Vargas Llosa, Poniatowska, and Tomas Eloy Martínez will be closely studied. Students will also read Absalom! Absalom! by Faulkner, whose influence on Latin-American authors' techniques of representation has been decisive and profound. [ more ]

RLSP 322 SEM Islam in Spain

Last offered Spring 2017

The presence of Islam--in all its diverse manifestations--is not new to Europe, least of all to Spain. In this course we will focus for the most part on the medieval and early modern periods, and study several works--primarily of literature, though we will supplement with other texts--in which Muslims and Islam have been portrayed in the Iberian Peninsula. We will cover a wide range of perspectives that include Christian and Muslim writers as well as converts on both sides. While the bulk of the course is focused on the period prior to 1700 CE, we will devote the final few weeks of class to the study of Islam in contemporary Spain using fiction, legal debates, and issues related to immigration. Conducted in Spanish [ more ]

RLSP 342(S) SEM Reading Sor Juana: "única poetisa americana, musa décima,"

This course focuses on the writings of one of the most revered women writers in Hispanic Letters, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, who was regarded by her contemporaries as the Tenth Muse. Our exploration and study of Sor Juana's writings will focus on the different genres in which she wrote--prose, poetry, and drama--and it will include a survey and analysis of the historical context in which she wrote, the formal aspects of her writings, and critical essays about her work written by leading scholars in the field of Latin American literature. Near the end of the semester, the course will conclude by expanding its focus to examine the ways in which Sor Juana's work has influenced contemporary Latin American and U.S. Latina authors. Conducted in Spanish. [ more ]

RLSP 366 SEM The Exemplary Fiction of Miguel de Cervantes

Last offered Spring 2010

Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616) is considered by some to be the father of the modern novel, and known worldwide for authorship of Don Quijote. This course will offer students the opportunity to read another body of work by Cervantes: his collection of short prose works collectively titled Las novelas ejemplares. Attention will be given to the structure and design of the tales, the socio-political and literary context that shaped them, and the often unsettling implications of Cervantes' approach to themes such as honor, social and moral presuppositions, marriage, friendship, and the place of representation in art and life. [ more ]

RLSP 388 SEM La Regenta: Masculinity in Crisis in Nineteenth-Century Spain

Last offered Spring 2021

This seminar is an in-depth study of arguably the most remarkable Spanish novel of the nineteenth century: La Regenta (1885) by Leopoldo Alas (alias Clarín, 1852-1901). We will spend the semester living with the most eccentric, repressed, confused, sometimes arrogant, and sometimes humble inhabitants of the fictional city of Vetusta (based on the real city of Oviedo) and immerse ourselves in Spanish history and culture through a story of adultery. In the grand tradition of nineteenth-century novels about fallen women, La Regenta in fact reveals the seamy underside of society, the profound anxieties of masculinity and identity formation, as well as where our biases and assumptions about both successful and failed relationships come from today. [ more ]

RLSP 401 SEM Climate Changes (Latin America): Aesthetics, Politics, Science

Last offered Fall 2019

In her 2007 book, In Catastrophic Times: Resisting the Coming Barbarism, philosopher Isabelle Stengers offers a chilling observation: "we are more badly equipped than ever for putting to work the solutions defined as necessary" to avoid the most devastating effects of global warming--the extinction of 25 to 75% of existing species; an increase in sea levels that will drown island nations and coastal cities; the breakdown of agricultural systems, leading to widespread famine; and the recurrence of powerful hurricanes and other so-called "natural" disasters. All of this, as Stengers and others point out, will create human upheaval, conflict and suffering on an unprecedented scale. This senior seminar examines works of literature, art and film that Latin Americans have produced in response to the catastrophic times in which we live. We will discuss the political, economic, and cultural histories that have led to our present moment, including neoliberalism, dictatorship, and the rise and fall of the leftwing Pink Tide. Through works of new and experimental fiction, poetry, film, performance and visual art, we will consider the lives and work of environmental activists, including Berta Cáceres and others who were murdered because of their outspoken opposition to extractive capitalism, examine the struggle for the decolonization of environmental knowledge, an epistemological battle increasingly waged on behalf of all living things, and experience the politics of mourning for the hundreds of thousands of life-forms disappearing from the planet. Cultural texts to be explored throughout the semester may include: La vorágine (José Eustasio Rivera, Colombia, 1924); Distancia de rescate (Samanta Schweblin, Argentina, 2014); Lo que soño Sebastián (Rodrigo Rey Rosa, Guatemala, 1995); Serras da desordem (Andrea Tonacci, Brazil, 2006); Boi Neón (Gabriel Mascaro, Brazil, 2015); American Fork (George Handley, USA, 2018). [ more ]

RLSP 402 SEM Senior Seminar Madrid: 1939-2004

Last offered Spring 2017

In this course we will examine life in Madrid during two key periods: the Franco Dictatorship (1939-1975), and the first four decades of democracy (1975-2016). We will consider how representations of urban landscapes (churches, convents, prisons, museums, slums, bars and schools) have shaped and reflected the lives of madrileñas and madrileños past and present. We will study works by 20th century and contemporary Spanish authors, filmmakers, photographers, and journalists, as well as period advertisements and examples of popular culture. How was Madrid's image as international capital of art, sun, soccer and bullfighting forged? What remnants of the past lurk behind this appealing façade? How do the Atocha train Station bombings of 2004 relate to unresolved political tensions from 1939? [ more ]

RLSP 403 SEM Senior Seminar: Early Modern Love and Marriage

Last offered Fall 2018

We might think that love is a natural human feeling and marriage its happiest consequence, but in fact these two conditions are among the most carefully constructed phenomena in any society, highly dependent on time period and place. In this senior seminar we will focus on pre-modern Iberia to study the many manifestations and constructions of love (and marriage), several of which continue to influence definitions of both to this day. We will look at sacred, profane, family, and married love through treatises, medical writings, plays, short stories, poems. Our theoretical underpinnings will come from reflections on love from the time period under consideration as well as contemporary critiques of love and marriage. Primary sources will include early lyrical traditions, the poetry of King Alfonso X, the works of Santa Teresa, Lope de Vega, Calderón de la Barca, Cervantes, among others. Conducted in Spanish. [ more ]

RLSP 404 SEM Spain's Tale of Two Cities:Madrid and Barcelona

Last offered Fall 2020

The ancient rivalries between Madrid and Barcelona may be best known because of their internationally watched soccer teams, but there's much more to the story than meets the eye in a stadium. Barcelona, immortalized for world audiences in George Orwell's classic Homage to Catalonia(1938), has a complicated political and cultural history. Catalans have a fascinating and unique culture and language. Their identity has often been cause for political unrest in their relationship with the rest of Spain, and even amongst Catalans themselves. In recent years, tensions with Spain's capital, Madrid, home to the central government and the Royal family, have filled headlines and divided politicians and even families. In this senior seminar we will focus on these two cities in their own right, and explore the counterpoints between them. We will consider the historical roots of lesser known aspects of Catalan culture and identity in order to tease out some of the myriad perspectives that are at play in Spain today. Materials will come from many different media: historical pieces, music, art and architecture, classic novels and films, recent fiction and essays by second generation authors who have been raised by immigrant parents in both cities, and media pieces. We will also invite cultural observers and players to be guest speakers and help us stay up to date as we follow this ever evolving relationship that keeps journalists and politicians on tenterhooks. [ more ]

RLSP 405 SEM Alternative American Literatures: From the Indigenous Chronicle to the Latin American & Chic. Novel

Last offered Fall 2021

Do the Americas have a common literature? If so, is it possible to trace their roots and continuity from the colonial era to the present? Literary critic Matin Lienhard suggests that it is indeed possible to trace the origin of a literature common to Latin America from the colonial era and into present by focusing on what he calls "alternative literatures"--literatures that relativize the importance of Europeanized and Creole literatures and valorize the richness of oral traditions in the Americas. Such literatures, he asserts, are closely tied to marginalized sectors of society. In this course, we will take Lienhard's concept of "alternative literatures" as a point of departure to pursue our own examinations of how these "alternative literatures" are constituted. While the primary aim of this course is to focus on the writings of Latin American authors, we will end by exploring the relationship between "alternative" Latin American literatures and Chicana/o/x literatures. Readings will include narrative texts such as Cartas de relación, chronicles of conquest, religious texts, indigenous annals, poetry, and drama, as well as contemporary Latin American and Chicana/o/x novels. [ more ]

RLSP 407(F) SEM Gender, Race and Nature: Ecocritical Examinations of Latin American Culture

This senior seminar brings an ecocritical focus to the study of Latin American cultural production. We are particularly interested in works of literature and other kinds of cultural texts that critique, subvert, or transcend conventionally Eurocentric and patriarchal conceptualizations of the human and its relation to non-human being. Rhetorical tropes linked to extractivist economic practices and their alternatives will be identified and analyzed over the course of the semester as we sample a wide range of literary and non-literary texts (poetry, narrative prose, essay, film, painting, woodcuts, music, digital media) produced throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. We will also read and discuss writings by leading ecocritics and decolonial theorists including Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui, Eduardo Gudynas, Mary Louise Pratt, Walter Mignolo, and more. [ more ]

RLSP 493(F) HON Senior Thesis: Spanish

Spanish senior thesis; this is part of a full-year thesis (493-494). [ more ]

RLSP 494(S) HON Senior Thesis: Spanish

Spanish senior thesis; this is part of a full-year thesis (493-494). [ more ]