SP 3521: Advanced Spanish I
Conducted entirely in Spanish, Advanced Spanish I is an intensive language course in which we will review and present new concepts of Spanish grammar emphasizing the four language skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. The course will allow you to further familiarize yourself with different aspects of Hispanic cultures in the U.S. and in Spanish-speaking countries. SP 3521 helps students to develop receptive and productive skills simultaneously—in other words, we will use the communicative approach to help you better understand (hear, read) and express yourself (speak, write) in Spanish. You will practice your language skills through daily conversation in class and with native speakers over Skype, through group presentations, and through quizzes, papers, and exams.
SP 3533: Advanced Spanish II
Conducted entirely in Spanish, Advanced Spanish II is a very intensive course that will build on SP 3521 while emphasizing the four language skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Through short films (cortometrajes), literary readings (lecturas literarias), and current events (noticias actuales), the course will also allow you to further familiarize yourself with different aspects of Hispanic cultures in the U.S. and in Spanish-speaking countries. SP 3522 helps students to develop receptive and productive skills simultaneously—in other words, we will use the communicative approach to help you better understand (listen, read) and express yourself (speak, write) in Spanish. You will practice your language skills through daily conversation in class and with native speakers over Skype, through group presentations, and through quizzes, papers, and exams.
SP 3532: Studies in Spanish Literature: Artistic Expression and Nation Building
Conducted entirely in Spanish, Survey of Spanish Literature is an upper-level course most appropriate for students who have completed SP 3522 (Advanced Spanish II) and SP 3528 (Spanish Culture and Civilization). We will approach the course as a sampler platter full of the tapas, the vino rojo, the jamón serrano, the gambas, and the calamares that compose the Spanish literary experience. I intend to serve you a sampling of literature covering a wide range of genres, styles, countries and, most importantly, years. This survey introduces students to Peninsular literature from its medieval origins to present day; we will read excerpts from a range of Spanish writers, including essayists, poets, playwrights, and novelists. Though each text and author is important in its own right, I’m more interested in how the selected narratives connect with one another and how they are representative of a given historical, cultural, and political moment. This approach will allow us to reconstruct the development of major literary trends across Spain through two distinct but interrelated angles: first, we will explore the sociopolitical circumstances that provoke the creation of each piece. And, second, we will analyze the texts with the tools of literary criticism, taking into account style, structure, and genre. In this way, the course provides a solid framework to understanding how and to what end major literary movements (e.g. medieval, Golden Age, romanticism, realism, naturalism, modernism, postmodernism, and so forth) unfold in Spain, particularly in relation to the nation-building process of the twentieth century. We will address a variety of topics, including literary and artistic movements, nationalist and religious discourses, gender relations, class conflicts, and the role of the intellectual. Finally, literature will be the avenue through which you will strengthen and enhance your Spanish-language skills.
SP 3530: Spanish Film, Media, and Cultural Issues
Conducted entirely in Spanish, Spanish Film, Media, and Cultural Issues is an upper-level course most appropriate for students who have completed SP 3522 (Advanced Spanish II) and SP 3528 (Spanish Culture and Civilization). Although most of the films that we discuss will be those produced in the cultural milieu after the death of dictator Francisco Franco (1975), we will begin with Luis Buñel’s landmark surrealist silent film Un Chien andalou (1928). From there our cinematic journey will lead us on a panoramic tour of the political and cultural transition to democracy occurring with the end of the dictatorship. Without the heavy shadow of censorship and repression, Spain finally begins to process both the horror of Civil War and the subsequent postwar trauma through cultural production, including literature and film. As we learn the analytical language of film studies, our aim is to examine the ways in which the films attempt to speak to us—in other words, the ways in which they attempt to persuade us through puesta en escena, cinematografía, sonido, iluminación, redacción, narrativa and estilo, just to name a few of the terms. This approach will allow us to reconstruct the development of major cinematic trends across Spain through two distinct but interrelated angles: first, we will explore the sociopolitical circumstances that provoke the creation of each piece. And, second, we will analyze the works with the tools of film criticism. We will explore a range of questions and problems such as the horror of war and dictatorship, repression and censorship, la movida madrileña, the role of women in contemporary society, immigration and exile, globalization, and violence. Finally, film will be the avenue through which you will strengthen and enhance your Spanish-language skills. To trace these issues through their representative pieces, we will rely on a chronological and progressive understanding that we will build by working toward several class goals.
SP 3526: Comparative Business Environments in Latin America
Conducted entirely in Spanish, Comparative Business Environments in Latin America is an upper-level course most appropriate for students who have completed SP 3522 (Advanced Spanish II). By starting with a broad introduction to questions of political economy in the region, we will explore how culture intersects with topics like globalization, capitalism, socialism, neoliberalism, and so forth. We will attempt to understand the political and economic trajectory of Latin America and how this history has shaped individual lives and national identities in the present global context. Through weekly readings, films, cartoons, art, and other points of entry, we will gain deep understanding of the ways in which practices like extractivismo, maquiladoras, monoproducción, fútbol, and privatización have widened the gap between rich and poor while disproportionately impacting the environment, women & children, and indigenous & Afro-descendant communities. Our aim is to extract similarities and differences between the Americas—between North and South, between Anglo and Latin, between our America and, in José Martí’s terms, nuestra América. We will embrace a view from the South to discern how corporations and trade have fostered both growth and destruction in Latin America, often leading to mass migration to the United States. Finally, business culture will be the avenue through which you will strengthen and enhance your Spanish-language skills.
SP 3523: Topics in Latin American Culture
Topics in Latin American Culture aims to introduce you to Latin America as a critical concept: how are we to understand “the Americas” as we know them today through past cultural processes, productions, and moments? By analyzing the trajectory of Latin America from the pre-Colombian era to present day, we will piece together a broad cultural history of the region. This background will assist us as we make sense of topics like revolutions and dictatorships (week 3), ethnicity and urbanization (week 4), the private sphere (week 5), and urgent cultural issues like drug wars and the environment (week 6). I have designed this course to be suggestive rather than exhaustive: we will connect topics from “culture” to create a path toward understanding this diverse yet interconnected world. Just as two people will likely choose distinct routes from WPI to Shrewsbury, there is no set way to comprehend each facet of Latin America’s peoples and places. We will thus jump from dot to dot, always building on previous knowledge, and trace several of the basic themes and problems that shape the region’s contemporary culture. Our readings and discussions will be in Spanish, but we will also consider Portuguese-speaking America (in other words, Brazil) and most importantly, English-speaking America: the United States. Indeed, we will pay special attention to the U.S.’s explicit and implicit interventions in the region while also exploring the role of Hispanics in the U.S.
Buenos Aires Project Center
The Buenos Aires Project Center provides the unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the Spanish language and Latin American culture in the real-world setting of Argentina. By taking language classes in the morning and then speaking and learning about culture in the afternoon, you will see measurable improvements in your language skills through the four-week immersion. You’ll learn to navigate a foreign city while also becoming proficient in daily Spanish-use—the Spanish required for real settings—to order food, to drop off your laundry, or to purchase a SIM card. Although such experiences can be simulated in the WPI classroom, they cannot be replicated; for this reason you must take advantage of your time in Buenos Aires to speak exclusively in Spanish. With such dedication (which, I assure you, will be frustrating on occasion) I expect that some of you might find yourselves thinking and dreaming in Spanish by the end of the four weeks in Argentina. You will reflect on your experiences in a class blog and in your personal journal. Additionally, I will periodically quiz you on assigned readings or cultural excursions. In the final three weeks of the course—back in the United States or wherever you might find yourself—you will craft an independently designed research paper that will relate in some way to Argentine literature, culture, history, or film. This paper should be something you could not complete without on-the-ground research in Buenos Aires, so you should be thinking about your interests from the very moment that your flight takes off for Ezeiza International Airport.
SP 3531 Contemporary U.S. Latino Literature and Culture
Contemporary U.S. Latino Literature and Culture aims to introduce you the relatively new field of Latino Studies, which emerged around the 1990s. We’ll pay particular attention to the English-language cultural production—literature, autobiography, film, music, and criticism—of Latinos linked to four main territories: Mexico, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic. While our transnational framework will help us understand the continuum between U.S. Latinos and Latin American/Caribbean communities, we will also closely examine more U.S. based arguments supporting and contesting the use of Latino as an ethnic racial term uniting all U.S. Latino communities. Indeed, part of our challenge will be to define what the label “Latino” even means. What is Latino literature? In what language do Latinos write? What makes a work Latino? How many generations need to pass before an artist or writer or filmmaker is simply American? And what do we mean by “American” anyway? Though we won’t be able to fully answer all these questions, I’ve raised them from the outset so we tackle them head-on while engaging this course’s works. Whether Hispanic, Latino, Latina, Latin, Chicano, Cubano, Cuban American, Tejano, Nuyorican, Boricua: labels never suffice, for their meaning relies on personal perspectives and cultural or political attitudes. We will thus examine the ways in which U.S. Latinos have manufactured identities within dominant as well as counter cultural registers. Using identity as a base, we will grapple with collective concerns regarding race, gender, place, exile, immigration, and language. Our readings and discussions will be in English and Spanglish.
SP 3533 Ecocrítica: Environmental Cultural Production in Latin America
This upper-level Spanish course explores the many ways in which Latin American authors, artists, filmmakers, photographers, and thinkers have responded to environmental concerns from colonial times to present day. Starting with Europeans’ first impressions of the New World, we will grapple with the interplay between local cultures and the expansion of global capitalism in Latin America by analyzing literary and cultural representations of, for instance, resource extraction of rubber, wood, and petroleum in the Amazon (Brazil, Perú, Ecuador); maquiladora contamination and environmental migration in the borderlands (U.S.-Mexico); water defenders and neoliberalism (Chile, Bolivia); indigenous social movements in defense of land & nature (Ecuador); eco-feminist parallels between oppression of women and nature (Honduras, Colombia); and natural disasters, especially in the age of the Anthropocene (Mexico, Puerto Rico). We will explore these issues and more to unearth the role of Latin American cultural production in bearing witness to and generating awareness of environmental crises. While always accounting for the region’s complex and interwoven history of coloniality, inequality, and dependency, we will look for environmental justice solutions proposed at the intersection of art and activism. Several questions will guide our interpretations, which will be grounded in ecocritical theory: what do the studied works aim to achieve by appealing to harmony between the human and the non-human? What similarities or differences exist across countries, contexts, and genres? And how does Latin America’s ecological consciousness differ from that of other peripheries and centers? This course would be especially beneficial to students interested in project work at WPI’s Project Centers in Latin America and the Caribbean and would count toward the HUA Requirement in Spanish, International and Global Studies, and Latin American & Caribbean Studies.