Penn State Penn State: College of the Liberal Arts

History & Transformation

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History & Transformation

SPAN 130 – Iberian Civilization (3 credits)

Course Description: Spanish 130 is a general education course on Iberian culture and civilization. The goal of this course is to provide the student with a broad, general introduction to the lands, peoples, history, and cultures of the area known as Spain and Portugal; to inform the student about the region¿s ethnic diversity, cultural heritages, and problems of development; to investigate vital symbols, myths, figures, icons, superstitions, and faiths; to foster critical thinking and associative skills; to suggest continuity and draw parallels between past and present; and to allow for a framework for undertaking further study. This course will survey the civilizations of these European lands and we will get an overview of the main historical events that make up this rich and complex history.The course is designed to expose students to the full range of Iberian history and diversity. Since we are covering centuries of history and several other variables (linguistic, artistic, ethnic, religious, political, economic, geographic, biologic, etc.), this tour will of necessity be pretty rudimentary. However, students will acquire an understanding of the diverse cultural currents and historical milestones that contributed to the creation of modern Spain and Portugal.
Prerequisite: None

SPAN 131 – Ibero-American Civilization (3 credits)

Course Description: Spanish American and Brazilian life from the Conquest to the present; including studies of literature, art, the indigenous heritage, and contemporary problems. This course meets the Bachelor of Arts degree requirements.The nations and peoples of Latin America have a unique, interesting history and cultural heritage that are rooted in the traditions, beliefs, experiences, values, and struggles of Native American, European, African and other populations. As close neighbors and major trading partners of the United States, Latin American republics have both benefited and suffered from the proximity and foreign policies of the northern capitalist democracy, and have contributed to its strength and growing ethno-racial diversity. This course aims to provide the student with a broad, general introduction to the lands, peoples, and history of Latin America; to inform the student about the region’s ethnic diversity, cultural background, and problems of development; and to promote appreciation for the values and practices of other cultures, and a better understanding of relations between the nations of the region and the United States. Traditional resident classes will usually combine presentation of content and discussion of reading assignments, with an expectation of high student participation. Films, videos, and recordings will enhance and illustrate readings. This course will fulfill the Humanities Breadth and Cultural Diversity requirements. The course does not count toward credits in the major or minor in Spanish because it is taught in English. Nevertheless, it will complement the department’s offerings by providing students with a greater appreciation of Latin America’s cultural origins, socioeconomic development, and everyday realities.
Prerequisite: None

SPAN 131Y – Ibero-American Civilization (3 credits)

Course Description: Spanish American and Brazilian life from the Conquest to the present; literature, art, the indigenous heritage, and contemporary problems. The nations and peoples of Latin America have a unique, interesting history and cultural heritage that are rooted in the traditions, beliefs, experiences, values, and struggles of Native American, European, African and other populations. As close neighbors and major trading partners of the United States, Latin American republics have both benefited and suffered from the proximity and foreign policies of the northern capitalist democracy, and have contributed to its strength and growing ethno-racial diversity. This course aims to provide the student with a broad, general introduction to the lands, peoples, and history of Latin America; to inform the student about the region’s ethnic diversity, cultural background, and problems of development; and to promote appreciation for the values and practices of other cultures, and a better understanding of relations between the nations of the region and the United States. Classes will usually combine lecture and discussion of reading assignments, with an expectation of high student participation. Films, videos, and recordings will enhance and illustrate readings. Three examinations (each covering approximately one third of the lessons presented), an occasional quiz, a book report or an annotated bibliography, participation and attendance will be the basis for evaluation of student learning and grades. Students are required and expected to read assignments, to attend class regularly, and to be prepared to participate in class discussions by answering and raising questions relevant to the lessons. Poor attendance will adversely affect a students standing and grade. This course will fulfill the Humanities Breadth and Cultural Diversity requirements. The course does not count toward credits in the major or minor in Spanish because it is taught in English. Nevertheless, it will complement the department’s offerings by providing students with a greater appreciation of Latin America’s cultural origins, socioeconomic development, and everyday realities.
Prerequisite: None

SPAN 132 – Afro-Hispanic Civilization (3 credits)

Course Description: A general introduction to human and cultural elements of African origin in Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking countries of Latin America. This course meets the Bachelor of Arts degree requirements. The nations and peoples of Latin America have a unique, interesting history and cultural heritage that are rooted in the traditions, beliefs, experiences, values, and struggles of Native American, European, African and other populations. This course focuses on the presence and participation of African peoples and their descendants in the formation and development of societies and cultures in representative areas of the Caribbean, South America, and CentralAmerica and on the evolution, diversity, and richness of the African heritage therein. Course content includes the African background, the experience and impact of slavery, the social, cultural, and economic heritage of slavery, the role of race in Latin America, and Afro-Hispanic intellectual, literary, and artistic developments (e.g., aspects of folklore, music). The course aims to provide students with a general introduction to human and cultural elements ofAfrican origin within the Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking nations of theAmericas so that they may be more knowledgeable of the meaning, significance and widespread influence of the African diaspora. It proposes to provide the student with a better understanding of Africa’s contribution to Latin American identity, diversity, culture, and development; to promote appreciation for the values and practices of other cultures, and greater awareness of the relations between the nations of the region and the United States.
Prerequisite: None

SPAN 210 – Readings in Iberian Civilization (3 credits)

Course Description: Intermediate level Spanish readings dealing with Iberian life from pre-historic times to the present.
Prerequisite: SPAN 200

SPAN 220 – Readings in Ibero-American Civilization (3 credits)

Course Description: Intermediate level Spanish readings dealing with Ibero-American life from the pre-conquest to the present.
Prerequisite: SPAN 200

SPAN 230 – Masterpieces of Spanish Literature in English Translation (3 credits)

Course Description: Study of works and authors of international importance; lectures, readings, and written works in English.
Prerequisite: SPAN 200

SPAN 253W – Introduction to Hispanic Literature (3 credits)

Course Description: Introduction to generic distinctions, critical methods, and approaches to Hispanic literature. This course meets the Bachelor of Arts degree requirements. During the semester students will learn how to write, and will practice writing, critical and analytical essays based upon the different genres of literature studied in class. All students will write three compositions during the semester, which will be written twice incorporating in the final draft suggestions made by their peer editors and by their instructor. The writing of the second version will be preceded by a conference with the instructor in which s/he will make comments and suggestions to the students about how to avoid the same errors made in the first draft. The themes for all papers must be chosen in consultation with the professor.
Prerequisite: SPAN 100 and SPAN 110

SPAN 297 – Spanish in the Digital Age: Culture, Language, and New Technologies

Instructor: Alejandro Ramírez-Arballo
Course Description: This course provides an opportunity to enhance acquisition of the fundamental elements of the Spanish language. Reading, writing and speaking skills are polished as students build on knowledge of the target culture through research, discussion and projects using the latest technology.

SPAN 297B – Introduction to Latin America Visual Culture

Course Description: Photographs, cartoons, graffiti, movies, cartels, blogs, advertisement, music videos, newspaper, underground magazines, blogs, are some of the manifestations of the contemporary visual word. This course offers an introduction to the Latin American visual culture in its nearly infinite manifestations.
Prerequisite: SPAN 100

SPAN 300 – Advanced Grammar and Composition Through Reading (3 credits)

Course Description: Development of advanced grammar and composition skills through reading texts by native speakers and adapting their techniques for original compositions.
Prerequisite: SPAN 200

SPAN 316 – Building Words and Sentences in Spanish (3 credits)

Course Description: Building words and sentences in Spanish. Analysis of Spanish work structure and its relationship to syntactic structures. SPAN 316 is an introduction to the study of Spanish morphology and syntax. In linguistics, morphology is the study of the morphemes (e.g. affixes, words, roots) of language and how they combine together to form words. Syntax is the study of how words combine together to form phrases and sentences. Because this course is for Spanish majors and minors, the focus in this course is on the structure of words, phrases, and sentences in Spanish, how Spanish compares to other languages, and how morphology and syntax vary across Spanish dialects. Special focus will be made on explaining the kinds of errors typical of English-speaking learners of Spanish as a second language, and a primary goal of the course is for students to improve their proficiency in using Spanish morphosyntax. The course is taught in Spanish.
Prerequisite: SPAN 200, SPAN 215

SPAN 326 – Reading the Border/Lands (3 credits)

Course Description: This course examines representations of the U.S.-Mexico border in relation to the actual geographic space. SPAN 326 centers on discussions of the U.S.-Mexico borderlands in cultural theory and practice. “Borderlands” is understood as a transcultural space filled with physical, cultural, economic, political, and mythical elements. The aim is to view how different artists from the Borderlands, both northern Mexican and Chicano, mediate their borderlands reality. That is to say, the goal of the class is to examine the different “imaginative geographies” in the borderlands. We examine a wide-ranging mix of cultural texts that includes prose, poetry, essays, and performance art, as well as film and video art. We explore how writers have historically rethought notions of citizenship, identity, and culture to create more fluid spaces of representation in cultural contact zones. We will in particular, pay close attention to the relationship between national geography and the shaping of regional identities and popular cultures between the maps that nations draw and the cultural forms that cut across them.
Prerequisite: None

SPAN 353 – Topics in the Cultures of Spain (3 credits)

Course Description: This course offers a comparative study of the literature, artistic manifestations, intellectual traditions, and cultural productions of Spain. This course offers a comparative study of the literature, artistic manifestations, intellectual traditions, and cultural productions of Spain. Depending on the semester focus, topics related to literary movements, comparative approaches to genre, and/or connections between textual representation and politics, social movements, and/or Spain’s long and complex history (both locally and globally) may be at the center of discussion. Additionally, varied issues of gender, race and ethnicity, rural and urban environments, religion, and evolving conceptions of nationhood may be included as overarching themes. Particular literary genres and representative works may be foregrounded in yet another iteration of the course, wherein students will study and discuss principal readings against cultural backdrops framed by exposure to art, film, music, and/or other historical, intellectual, sociopolitical, and/or media-based materials of relevance to the semester-specific context at hand.
Prerequisite: SPAN 200 and SPAN 253W

SPAN 354 – Topics in Border Studies (3 credits)

Course Description: This course offers a study of borders as key sites of contact, exchange, conflict, hybridity, and identity production in and across varied contexts of Spanish, Latin American, and/or Latina/o culture(s). This course offers a study of borders – geopolitical, social, intellectual, literary, artistic, and/or historical – as key sites of contact, exchange, conflict, hybridity, and identity production in and across varied contexts of Spanish, Latin American, and/or Latina/o culture(s). While diverse variables (including diaspora, gender, race and ethnicity, sexuality, colonialism, nationhood and transnationalism) will inform particular iterations of the course, approaches and text selection will be shaped by an understanding of borders as constructs defined by conditions of dynamic interaction and transformation. Materials to be considered in the course, which will vary according the focus, may include literary, artistic, and intellectual works, film, media-based texts, music, and/or historical documents.
Prerequisite: SPAN 200 and SPAN 253W

SPAN 355 – Topics in the Cultures of Latin America (3 credits)

Course Description: This course offers a comparative study of the literatures, artistic manifestations, intellectual traditions, and cultural productions of the Latin American region. This course offers a comparative study of the literatures, artistic manifestations, intellectual traditions, and cultural productions of the Latin American region. Throughout the course, we will reflect on the (im)possibility of characterizing a vast region by taking into account ongoing factors its broader history and culture, as well as national and local particularities. Topics will vary by semester and may include: literary and artistic periods and movements, (post)coloniality and decoloniality, the politics of race, gender, and sexuality, urban and rural sociopolitical movements, (self-)representations in old and new media, discourses of the political (populisms, revolutions, dictatorships, and neoliberalism), and migration studies. Students will engage with literary texts, historic documents, art, music, and other materials in order to understand different kinds of writing and forms of representation. While most materials will be in Spanish, the course may also include works in translation from Brazil, as well as the English- and/or French-speaking Caribbean.
Prerequisite: SPAN 200 and SPAN 253W

SPAN 356 Topics in the Cultures of the Americas (3 credits)

Course Description: This course offers a comparative study of the literatures and cultures of the Americas, bringing Latin America into dialogue with the United States (and in some instances Canada). This course offers a comparative study of the literatures and cultures of the Americas, bringing Latin America into dialogue with the United States (and, in some instances, Canada). Throughout the course, we will explore the (dis) continuities that both connect and divide the hemisphere, and we will trace the movement of people, artistic practices, and ideas across borders while paying attention to the distinctive aspects of national and local cultures. Topics will vary by semester and may include: empire and colonialism, the literary and cultural legacies of slavery, the figure of the “native,” crime literature or science fiction in the Americas, theater of the Americas, literatures and cultures of the Spanish-American War, media and the U.S./Mexico border, and cultures of the Caribbean diaspora. Although the course may cover English-language materials, or works in translation from Brazil and/or the French-speaking Caribbean, most of the texts/recordings/films will be in Spanish, as will all assignments written by students.
Prerequisite: SPAN 200 and SPAN 253W

SPAN 397 – Modern Spanish Short Story

Course Description: This course will examine the genre of the Spanish short story from the mid-nineteenth century through the post-Franco years of the Transition to democracy and beyond, focusing on such topics as: an evolving aesthetics of “the real,” the mechanics/stylistics of short narrative fiction in the Peninsular context, voices and perspectives from Spain’s cultural margins, conceptions of national identity, the metafictional mode, the subgenre of the fantastic, and a longstanding tradition of humor and social critique.

SPAN 418 – The Evolution of Spanish (3 credits)

Course Description: The emergence and development of the sounds and forms of Spanish.
Prerequisite: SPAN 200 and SPAN 215

SPAN 439 – Don Quijote (3 credits)

Course Description: Thorough study of the masterpiece, including its sources, genesis, language, style, success, and influence.
Prerequisite: SPAN 253W

SPAN 472 – The Contemporary Spanish American Novel (3 credits)

Course Description: The regionalist and social novel since 1910, together with the social background.
Prerequisite: SPAN 253W

SPAN 474 – Many Mexicos (3 credits)

Course Description: Overview of Mexican literature, culture and history from pre-colonial period to present.
Prerequisite: SPAN 253W

SPAN 476 – Masterpieces of Spanish American Literature (3 credits)

Course Description: Reading, analysis, and discussion of selected major works representative of Spanish American prose and poetry.
Prerequisite: SPAN 253W

SPAN 479 – U.S. Latina/o Culture en Español (3 credits)

Course Description: This course is conducted in Spanish and will analyze some of the central themes that shape the diverse Latina/o experiences in the United States. Some of the main topics that the course will address include: the politics of labeling; definitions of displacements; the politics of language; imaginary homelands and geographic spaces; and conceptualizations of race, gender, and sexuality. These themes will be seen through the lens of Latina/o literature and film. The main objective of this course is to help students think critically about the conceptual, theoretical, historical, and social issues that inform the Latina/o experience in the United States.
Prerequisite: SPAN 253W

SPAN 488 – War, Revolution, and the Struggles for Modernity: Spain 1898-1939 (3 credits)

Course Description: This course, conducted in Spanish, examines Spanish literature from 1898 to 1939.
Prerequisite: SPAN 253W

SPAN 490 – Masterpieces of Spanish Prose (3 credits)

Course Description: Reading, analysis, and discussion of selected masterpieces of Spanish novels, short stories, etc.
Prerequisite: SPAN 253W

SPAN 491 – Masterpieces of Spanish Drama and Poetry (3 credits)

Course Description: Reading, analysis, and discussion of selected masterpieces of Spanish drama and poetry.
Prerequisite: None

SPAN 497 – Bilingualism in the U.S.: Acquisition, Cognition, & Community

Instructor: Dora LaCasse
Course Description: This course will focus on the study of bilingualism in the United States. We’ll discover how bilinguals acquire their languages, how they manage their two languages, and how they use them, as members of bilingual communities. We will take a cross-disciplinary view, exploring major questions from both corpus-based and laboratory approaches.
Prerequisite: SPAN 215

SPAN 497 – Historical Memory in Recent Spanish Film, Fiction, and Comics

Time: MoWeFr 10:10 AM – 11:00 AM
Instructor: Matthew Marr
Description: This course will examine the concept of historical memory in contemporary Spanish cinema, narrative, and comics. We will consider a stylistically diverse set of cultural productions which have played no small role in catalyzing and informing Spain’s belated, if now vigorous, public reckoning vis-à-vis the full traumas of the Civil War (1936-1939), the ensuing Franco dictatorship (1939-75), and the so-called “Pacto del Olvido” (the Pact of Forgetting) of the transition to democracy.
Prerequisites: (SPAN 100A or SPAN 200) and SPAN 253W

SPAN 497 – Latin(o) American Graphic Novel

Instructor: Marco A. Martínez
Course Description: This interdisciplinary seminar combines literary, visual, and historical approaches to study one of the most rapidly growing and increasingly influential forms of literature: the graphic novel. We will focus on the production made by Latin American and Latinx writers and visual artists, beginning in the late 1990s and continuing to the present day. Through reading, discussion, and presentations, students will develop the literary and visual vocabulary to analyze the conventions and possibilities of the graphic novel. Some of the topics we will be examining are national history, dystopian worlds, migration and racism, literary adaptations, and race, gender and sexuality conceptions. Class will be taught in Spanish.

SPAN 497 – Modern Hispanic Short Story

Instructor: Matthew J. Marr
Course Description: This course will offer an in-depth study of the genre of the modern (and, in some instances, postmodern) short story as cultivated—in Spanish—by some of Spain and Latin America’s most vibrant narrative voices of twentieth century through the present.  Primary texts will include selections by, among others, Horacio Quiroga, Jorge Luis Borges, Julio Cortázar, Juan Rulfo, Gabriel García Márquez, Camilo José Cela, Ana María Matute, Miguel Delibes, Juan Goytisolo, Rosa Montero, Javier Marías, and Juan José Millás.  Special attention will be given to the mechanics of form and suspense, as well as to an evolving aesthetics of “the real.”  The cultural referents at play in each short story will also be closely examined, as will transatlantic patterns of literary influence and cosmopolitanism (vs. regionalism) among the authors considered.
Prerequisite: SPAN 253W

SPAN 497 – Representation, Reenactment, and Revolution in Latin America: 1910-present

Time: MWF, 2:30-3:20 p.m.
Instructor: Lily Ryan
Course Description: This course offers a multidisciplinary, multimedia approach that examines incidences of social upheaval that have taken place in Latin America throughout the last century. Using literature, photography, and cinema, it traces how state violence, natural disasters, and political instability have been represented in the Americas, while questioning the critical and geopolitical implications of these representations in the space that we consider to be “Latin America.” These works emanate from a variety of sources that include, but are not limited to, the autobiographical, the historical and the journalistic. We will look at how truth, authority, memory, and fiction give way to our historical understanding of each event. Rather than be all-encompassing, this course examines specific incidents of turmoil and change and combines a historical outlook with analyses of how these events have been represented. In doing so, it serves as a survey course for modern Latin American culture and as an introduction to media studies, as each week’s primary texts will be supplemented with secondary sources on media.
Prerequisite: SPAN 253W

SPAN 497 – Spanish Social-Issue Cinema

Instructor: Matthew J. Marr
Course Description: Since the 1990s, a growing number of filmmakers in Spain have gravitated toward projects concerned with socially charged topics: domestic abuse, terrorism, national memory/amnesia, rural depopulation, immigration, economic malaise, secularization, assisted suicide, disability, etc. In doing so, directors have carved out a heretofore underdeveloped space in a national cinema which, until 1975, saw authoritarian censorship under Franco force directors’ hands with respect to critical openness—and where in the 1980s a flair for art-house experimentation (fueled by the fresh air of democracy) often left real-world issues checked at the cinema door. Yet, just as themes inseparable from a nuanced understanding of contemporary Spanish society have recently moved to the fore of its cinema, so too has the macrogenre of social-issue film diversified in stylistic terms. This course will explore Spanish social-issue cinema through a close analysis of several feature films, documentaries, shorts, frequent theoretical readings, and assignments designed to develop students’ skills as critical viewers.

SPAN 497 – The Many Faces of Modern Hispanic Culture

Time: MoWeFr 1:25 PM – 2:15 PM
Instructor: Mary Barnard
Description: This course deals with multiple manifestations of Spanish and Hispanic-American contemporary culture in canonical and non-canonical poetic texts, works of art, and film. They will be analyzed within their social, political, and historical contexts. It will cover diverse topics, including the Spanish Civil War, the Cuban Revolution, Spanish colonialism in the Caribbean, neocolonialism, feminism, the culture of the gypsy, and slavery and its connections with the Atlantic slave trade during the Spanish conquest and its consequences for modern Caribbean poets. The course will include the political and social repercussions of Negritude and Negrismo in the literary production of Afro-Hispanic poets and their interconnections with Marxism and socialism. The poets we will study include Antonio Machado, Nicolás Guillén, Luis Palés Matos, Pablo Neruda, José Martí, Federico García Lorca, Delmira Agustini, Julia de Burgos, and Nancy Morejón. The course will cover artists such as Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, Pablo Picasso, and Salvador Dalí. The films will include Diarios de Motocicleta (Walter Salles) and Un chien andalou (Luis Buñuel).
Prerequisites: (SPAN 100A or SPAN 200) and SPAN 253W

SPAN 497 (Section 2) – Modern Hispanic Short Story

Time: MoWeFr, 2:30-3:20 p.m.
Instructor: Matthew Marr
Course Description: This course will offer an in-depth study of the genre of the modern/contemporary short story as cultivated in Spanish by some of Spain and Latin America’s most vibrant narrative voices of the twentieth century through the present.  Primary texts will include selections by, among others, Horacio Quiroga, Jorge Luis Borges, Julio Cortázar, Juan Rulfo, Rosario Castellanos, Rosario Ferré, Roberto Bolaño, Ana María Matute, Miguel Delibes, Rosa Montero, Javier Marías, Juan José Millás, and Javier Cercas.  Special attention will be given to the mechanics of form and suspense, an evolving aesthetics of “the real,” engagement with social critique, and short narrative’s commentary on the (post)modern human condition. The cultural referents at play in each text will also be closely examined, as will transatlantic patterns of literary influence and cosmopolitanism (vs. regionalism) among the authors considered.
Prerequisite: SPAN 253W

SPAN 497 (Section 3) – Cultural Trends in Contemporary Spain and Hispanic America

Time: MoWeFr, 12:20-1:10 p.m.
Instructor: Mary Barnard
Course Description: This course explores literary texts, art works, and films from twentieth-century Spain and Hispanic America and the cultural currents that subtend their production.  It will study the Industrial Revolution and reactions by modernist writers; colonialism and neocolonialism; slavery and questions of race and hybridity; transatlantic crossing of people and ideas that nourish new ways of thinking and new ways of knowing; material culture, with discursive objects and artefacts serving as carriers of culture and bearers of identity; the African roots of Caribbean poetry; and the plight of minorities, women and gypsies, in Spanish society. Films by Pedro Almodóvar and Alejandro González Iñárritu will be included.
Prerequisite: SPAN 253W

SPAN 497 (Section 4) – La vida es sueño and Calderón de la Barca’s Theatre: Performing a Symbolic World

Time: TR, 12:05-1:20 p.m.
Instructor: Juan Udaondo Alegre
Course Description: De acuerdo con la mayoría de especialistas, La vida es sueño es la mejor obra de teatro de la literatura española del Siglo de Oro, de manera parecida a Hamlet entre las letras inglesas. Como podremos comprobar durante los primeros días de clase, en La vida es sueño la belleza de los versos no está reñida con la profundidad filosófica, la complejidad de los personajes y una trama casi perfecta; de hecho, todos ellos son rasgos que  Calderón de la Barca desarrollaría en el resto de su producción, una significativa selección de la cual examinaremos durante el resto del cuatrimestre, incluyendo piezas como El alcalde de Zalamea, El médico de su honra, Amar después de la muerte, El gran teatro del mundo, El príncipe constante, etc. En el análisis de las obras, además de contextualizar y estudiar los temas principales se insistirá especialmente en dos cosas: en primer lugar, su condición de teatro en verso, y cómo Calderón hizo que su poesía reflejase todas las tendencias del Siglo de Oro, desde el Romancero a Góngora pasando por Garcilaso y Lope; en segundo lugar, que estamos leyendo obras escritas primero para ser representadas y después leídas. Por ello, en todas las clases abordaremos tanto el análisis del texto dramático (personajes, conflictos, acotaciones, etc.) como poético (incluyendo métrica, verso y recursos retórico-expresivos). Además, y teniendo en cuenta que las mejores compañías de teatro de España y Latinoamérica han apreciado y representado los textos de Calderón, durante las clases veremos fragmentos en escena de las obras que estamos leyendo, y discutiremos cómo los profesionales del teatro se han acercado al mundo simbólico y la variedad dramática de este autor.
Prerequisite: SPAN 253W

SPAN 497A – Contemporary Latin American Cinema

Course Description: This course explores Latin American cultures through the study of films of the past quarter of a century.

SPAN 497C – Avant-Garde Primitivisms

Course Description: In this course we will explore the ways in which the tension between the drive for futurity and the appeal of the “primitive” plays out in the visual art, poetry, prose, theater, and films of Latin American and European artists commonly regarded as “avant-garde.”
Prerequisite: SPAN 200 and SPAN 253W

SPAN 497C – Living Breathing Language

Course Description: There are nearly 7000 language spoken in the world today. Where did they come from? What makes them different? How are they similar? What happens when they die? This course will explore linguistic diversity, historical change and dialectal variation through the lens of evolutionary biology. Using examples from Spanish, both modern and historical, we will learn how language can be characterized as a living, growing, changing organism.
Prerequisite: SPAN 215

SPAN/LTNST 315N – Spanish and Spanish-speakers in the U.S. (3 credits)

Course Description: In this course, we investigate various aspects of the language(s) and language behaviors of U.S. Latinos. The course is premised on the idea that language is a crucial component in the formation of identity. To understand Latina/o identity formation in the U.S., then, one must analyze what role languages–Spanish and English–have played in identity formation. The class commences with a brief historical assessment of the various U.S. Latino communities, including Mexican-American, Cuban-American, and Puerto Rican communities. Such a historical purview proves significant in the study of the cultural traditions that persist in these communities, chief among these, the Spanish language. In exploring the Spanish language in U.S. Latino communities, we consider several major sets of questions, among them the following: In what ways do the languages of U.S. Latino communities differ from those of monolingual Spanish- (and English-) speaking communities? What factors contribute to the maintenance and loss of Spanish in these communities? How does language contribute to the creation of individual and societal identity? How is language exploited in the representation of other U.S. Latino cultural traditions? We consider these questions across a variety of genres: poetry, prose (autobiography in particular), film, art, television, and music. These texts reveal how social environments determine language use as well as how artists have used language to reshape social environments, through, for example, the development of new language practices such as Spanish-English code switching. The course also connects these cultural practices to debates on Spanish in public life and policy.
Prerequisite: None

SPAN/LTNST 479 – U.S. Latina/o Culture en Español (3 credits)

Course Description: This course is conducted in Spanish and will analyze some of the central themes that shape the diverse Latina/o experiences in the United States. Some of the main topics that the course will address include: the politics of labeling; definitions of displacements; the politics of language; imaginary homelands and geographic spaces; and conceptualizations of race, gender, and sexuality. These themes will be seen through the lens of Latina/o literature and film. The main objective of this course is to help students think critically about the conceptual, theoretical, historical, and social issues that inform the Latina/o experience in the United States.
Prerequisite: SPAN 253W