Hispanic Studies

Last updated: July 28, 2014 at 4:40 p.m.

Objectives

Hispanic Studies at Brandeis focuses on the Spanish language, and much more. Students improve their Spanish-language skills in the courses they take. But language is also the matter of politics, advertising, media, and social communication. Students, therefore, engage in the analysis of cultural artifacts and artistic movements as they learn more about language and their own place in the world. Study abroad for a semester or a year may play an important part in students’ academic careers and personal growth.

Majors and minors in Hispanic Studies are prepared to pursue careers in a wide range of fields where effective communication and intercultural critical thinking are essential, including those in which they will have direct contact with Spanish speakers and/or Hispanic cultures, both in this country and globally. 

Learning Goals

Professionals who have expertise in more than one language are consistently preferred over those who do not in jobs that involve international assignments. These same language skills play an important role in gaining admission to graduate, law, or medical school. Professionals interested in working in education and social work, as well as the medical fields, are often expected to know a language other than English. Spanish is particularly helpful in this context as the Hispanic community is one of the largest ethnic groups in the contemporary United States.

Coursework in Hispanic Studies involves the study of literature and film, art and politics, cultures and places from Spain to Latin America and the United States, from the remote past to today. A major in Hispanic Studies encourages students to wrestle with such questions as: how does artistic production allow a community to examine its origins, identity, and memory? How do literature and the arts in the Hispanic world engage with socio-economic and political history at both a local and a transnational level? How to think across cultures? What do works of the imagination say about the world in which we live that other texts and practices cannot articulate?

Knowledge:

  • an understanding of the diversity and richness of Hispanic cultures in a global context
  • competency in literary and cultural history, regarding the Hispanic world in and of itself as well as in conversation with other cultures and regions
  • an appreciation for language as a shaper of identities, cultures, and historical events
  • a recognition of the multiple cultural interfaces between Latin America and the United States, particularly in relation to immigrant Latino communities

Core skills:

  • an ability to articulate complex ideas in Spanish orally and in writing
  • a capacity to enjoy literature and cultural expressions of the Hispanic world
  • an ability to comprehend literary, cultural, and theoretical texts, recognizing the various contexts in which they are produced and used
  • an ability to do research and analysis in the field of culture

Social Justice:
Intercultural understanding is essential for the pursuit of social justice in a globalized world. Genuine intercultural exchanges requires literacy in more than one languages and knowledge of diverse cultures, in order to increase the capacity for mutual understanding. Multilingual and multicultural education fosters the creation of a climate of respect, nationally and internationally.

Upon Graduation:
We prepare our students for intercultural critical thinking. This allows them to become professionals capable of navigating an increasingly complex world. Hispanic Studies majors and minors pursue graduate studies in various fields of the Humanities and the Social Sciences; they build careers in law and the public sector; they become health professionals and businessmen and women; they do creative work, applying themselves to the arts, to community organization, and to the media industry.

How to Fulfill the Language Requirement

In order to graduate, you must be able to function at an intermediate level in reading, writing, speaking, and listening in a foreign language. You may satisfy this requirement in several ways:

  • If you scored or 620 or higher on the SAT II language exam, 4 or higher on an Advanced Placement exam in language or literature, or 5 or higher on the International Baccalaureate Higher Levels Exam, you have completed the language requirement. We encourage you to continue your studies in our department (please see below to choose a course at the appropriate level).
  • If you pass an exam that shows you have gained an intermediate-level proficiency in Spanish, you will have completed the language requirement. Please contact Professor Hollie Harder (harder@brandeis.edu) to make arrangements to take the Proficiency Exam.
  • OR, you may study a language at Brandeis. When you complete a 30-level course with a passing grade, you will have satisfied the language requirement.
Students with further questions about the language requirement should contact the Director of Language Programs, Professor Hollie Harder (harder@brandeis.edu).

How to Become a Major or a Minor

Students considering a major or a minor in Hispanic Studies should complete the language requirement as soon as possible, preferably by the end of their first year at Brandeis.

  • After students complete a 30-level Spanish language course, they are advised to enroll in HISP 104b.
  • Students who scored 620–710 on the Spanish SAT II, 4 on the Spanish Advanced Placement exam, or 5 on the International Baccalaureate Higher Levels Exam should enroll in HISP 105a.
  • Students who scored 720 or above on the Spanish SAT II exam, 5 on the Spanish AP exam, or 6 or higher on the International Baccalaureate Higher Levels Exam should enroll in HISP 106b.
  • Heritage Spanish speakers are encouraged to enroll in HISP 108a.
  • Either HISP 106b or HISP 108a is the first course in the sequence that counts toward the major or the minor in Hispanic Studies.
Once students have completed HISP 106b or HISP 108a, they begin the sequence of literature and culture courses. Please note: many Hispanic Studies majors and minors choose to study in Spain or Latin America for all or part of their junior year. Normally, up to two full-credit Spanish or Latin American literature or film courses per semester taken abroad will count toward the Hispanic Studies major, up to a maximum of four courses total for the major and up to two courses total for the minor. Students interested in learning more about the major or minor are encouraged to speak with the Undergraduate Advising Head in Hispanic Studies.

Faculty

Jerónimo Arellano (on leave fall 2014)
20th and 21st century Latin American literature. Colonial Latin American Studies. Media Studies.

Jorge Arteta
Spanish language.

Mary Nasielskier de Burstin
Spanish language.

Dian Fox, Undergraduate Advising Head for Hispanic Studies
Spanish medieval and early modern drama, poetry, and prose. Cervantes. Women's and gender studies.

Elena González Ros
Spanish language and language pedagogy.

James Mandrell
Modern and contemporary Hispanic literature. Comparative literature. Women's, gender, and sexuality studies. Film. 

Raysa Mederos
Spanish language.

Lucía Reyes de Deu 
Latin American Studies. Nineteenth Century Argentine literature. Women's and Gender Studies. Spanish language and language pedagogy.

Fernando Rosenberg
Latin American and Latino studies. Comparative literature. Latin American Film.

Requirements for the Minor

The minor consists of five semester courses:

A. HISP 106b (Spanish Composition, Grammar, and Stylistics) or HISP 108a (Spanish for Heritage Speakers).

B. At least one, but no more than two, of the following: HISP 109b (Introduction to Hispanic Cultural Studies), HISP 110a (Medieval and Early Modern Spanish Literature: Gender, Class, Religion, Power), or HISP 111b (Introduction to Latin American Literature and Culture).

C. The additional courses must be from the Hispanic Studies literature or film offerings numbered above 111. No more than one of these electives may be taken in English. Courses conducted in English include those abbreviated HECS (Hispanic and European Cultural Studies).

D. No grade below a C- will be given credit toward the minor.

E. No course taken pass/fail may count toward the minor requirements.

All students pursuing a Hispanic Studies minor will be assigned an advisor in the department. Enrollment in the Hispanic Studies minor must be completed by the end of the first semester of the senior year.

All courses are conducted in Spanish, unless otherwise noted.

Requirements for the Major

The major consists of nine semester courses:

A. HISP 106b (Spanish Composition, Grammar, and Stylistics) or HISP 108a (Spanish for Heritage Speakers).

B. At least one, but no more than two, of the following: HISP 109b (Introduction to Hispanic Cultural Studies), HISP 110a (Medieval and Early Modern Spanish Literature: Gender, Class, Religion, Power), or HISP 111b (Introduction to Latin American Literature and Culture), to be completed as early as possible.

C. The additional courses must be from the Hispanic Studies literature or film offerings numbered above 111, at least two of which must deal with Spanish or Latin American literature before 1900. No more than two of the electives may be taken in English. One semester of HISP 92a (Internship and Analysis) may count as an elective. Courses conducted in English include those abbreviated HECS (Hispanic and European Cultural Studies).

D. HISP 198a (Experiential Research Seminar in Literary and Cultural Studies) in the fall semester, normally, of the senior year.

E. No grade below a C- will be given credit toward the major.

F. No course taken pass/fail may count toward the major requirements.

Those seeking departmental honors will also take HISP 99b in the spring to complete the senior thesis. Honors students must have maintained a 3.60 GPA in Hispanic Studies courses previous to the senior year. Honors are awarded based on cumulative excellence in all courses taken in the major, including the senior thesis.

Students may petition the undergraduate advising head for changes in the above program. Students wishing to receive credit toward the Hispanic Studies major for courses that are cross-listed under ECS (abbreviated HECS) will be required to do the reading and writing in Spanish.

All students pursuing a Hispanic Studies major will be assigned an adviser in the department. Enrollment in the Hispanic Studies major must be completed by the end of the first semester of the senior year.

All courses are conducted in Spanish, unless otherwise noted.

Special Notes Relating to Undergraduates

Students may take two 30-level Hispanic Studies courses for credit with permission of the Director of Language Programs.

How to Choose a Course at the Appropriate Level

For more information, please refer to the Registrar’s website at www.brandeis.edu/registrar/newstudent/testing.html#spantest or to the Department of Romance Studies website.

Courses of Instruction

(1-99) Primarily for Undergraduate Students

HISP 10a Beginning Spanish
Prerequisite: For students with no previous knowledge of Spanish and those with a minimal background. Students enrolling for the first time in a Hispanic Studies course at Brandeis should refer to www.brandeis.edu/registrar/newstudent/testing.html#spantest.
A systematic presentation of the basic grammar and vocabulary of the language within the context of Hispanic culture, with focus on all five language skills: listening, speaking, reading, writing, and sociocultural awareness. Usually offered every year.
Staff

HISP 20b Continuing Spanish
Prerequisite: A grade of C- or higher in HISP 10a or the equivalent. Students enrolling for the first time in a Hispanic Studies course at Brandeis should refer to www.brandeis.edu/registrar/newstudent/testing.html#spantest. For students with some previous study of Spanish.
Continuing presentation of the basic grammar and vocabulary of the language within the context of Hispanic culture with focus on all five language skills: listening, speaking, reading, writing, and sociocultural awareness. Usually offered every semester.
Staff

HISP 32a Intermediate Spanish: Conversation
[ fl ]
Prerequisite: A grade of C- or higher in HISP 20b or the equivalent. Students enrolling for the first time in a Hispanic Studies course at Brandeis should refer to www.brandeis.edu/registrar/newstudent/testing.html#spantest.
This course focuses on the development of oral expression and conversational skills in the context of continuing development of linguistic competence in Spanish. Usually offered every year.
Staff

HISP 34a Intermediate Spanish: Topics in Hispanic Culture
[ fl ]
Prerequisite: a grade of C- or higher in HISP 20b or the equivalent. Students enrolling for the first time in a Hispanic Studies course at Brandeis should refer to www.brandeis.edu/registrar/newstudent/testing.html#spantest.
Topics from Hispanic cultures are the context for continuing development of linguistic competence in Spanish. Usually offered every year.
Staff

HISP 92a Internship in Hispanic Studies
Written permission of the Undergraduate Advising Head required. Students may take no more than one departmental internship for major credit.
Internships combine off-campus and on-campus work, supervised by a departmental faculty sponsor, that provides a significant learning experience in Hispanic cultural academic study. Students doing summer internships register for course credit in the following fall semester. Junior or Senior Hispanic Studies majors with a minimum GPA of 3.5 in Hispanic Studies courses may substitute one internship for an elective course. Usually offered every year.
Staff

HISP 98a Independent Study
May be taken only with the written permission of the Undergraduate Advising Head.
Reading and reports under faculty supervision. Usually offered every year.
Staff

HISP 98b Independent Study
May be taken only with the written permission of the Undergraduate Advising Head.
Readings and reports under faculty supervision. Usually offered every year.
Staff

HISP 99b Senior Thesis
Students should consult the Undergraduate Advising Head.
Usually offered every year.
Staff

(100-199) For Both Undergraduate and Graduate Students

HECS 150a Staging Early Modern Spain: Drama and Society
[ hum ]
Open to all students. Conducted in English with readings in English translation.
Explores readings and representations of seventeenth-century Spanish drama in social and political contexts. Special attention to gender and violence in texts dealing with seduction, cross-dressing, revolution, and wife-murder, by writers such as Cervantes, Lope, Caro, and Calderón. Usually offered every second year.
Ms. Fox

HISP 104b Peoples, Ideas, and Language of the Hispanic World
[ fl hum ]
Prerequisite: 30-level Hispanic Studies course or equivalent. Students enrolling for the first time in a Hispanic Studies course at Brandeis should refer to www.brandeis.edu/registrar/newstudent/testing.html#spantest.
Participants will expand their skills in Spanish while deepening their understanding of Hispanic cultures. Focuses on aspects of the history and ideas that shape the Spanish-speaking world, from its peninsular origins to the realities of Spanish speakers in the Americas. Usually offered every semester.
Staff

HISP 105a Spanish Conversation and Grammar
[ fl hum ]
Prerequisite: HISP 104b, or the equivalent. Students enrolling for the first time in a Hispanic Studies course at Brandeis should refer to www.brandeis.edu/registrar/newstudent/testing.html#spantest.
Students learn to communicate effectively in Spanish through class discussions, oral and written exercises, presentations, literary and cultural readings, film, and explorations of the mass media. Emphasis on improvement of oral and written fluency, and acquisition of vocabulary and grammar structures. Usually offered every semester.
Staff

HISP 106b Spanish Composition, Grammar, and Stylistics
[ fl hum wi ]
Prerequisite: HISP 105a or the equivalent. Students enrolling for the first time in a Hispanic Studies course at Brandeis should refer to www.brandeis.edu/registrar/newstudent/testing.html#spantest.
Focuses on written communication and the improvement of writing skills, from developing ideas to outlining and editing. Literary selections will introduce the students to the principles of literary analysis and serve as topics for class discussion and writing. Usually offered every semester.
Staff

HISP 108a Spanish for Heritage Speakers
[ fl hum wi ]
Designed specifically for students who grew up speaking Spanish and who would like to enhance existing language skills while developing higher levels of academic proficiency. Assignments are geared toward developing skills in reading, writing, and critical thinking about U.S. Latino/as and the Spanish-speaking world. Students may use this course to fulfill the foreign language requirement. Usually offered every year.
Ms. Reyes

HISP 109b Introduction to Modern Spanish Cultural Studies: Modernity
[ fl hum ]
Prerequisite: HISP 106b, or HISP 108a, or permission of the instructor.
Introduces the study of Spanish culture through a consideration of shifting notions of modernity from the eighteenth century to the present as seen in drama, fiction, and poetry, as well as periodical literature, newscasts, and film. Usually offered every year.
Mr. Mandrell

HISP 110a Medieval and Early Modern Spanish Literature: Gender, Class, Religion, Power
[ fl hum ]
Prerequisite: HISP 106b, or HISP 108a, or permission of the instructor.
Was el Cid a political animal? How do women, Jews, and Muslims fare in classical Spanish literature? Study of major works, authors, and social issues from the Middle Ages to the end of the seventeenth century. Texts covered range from lyric love poetry and the epic Cantar del Cid to Cervantes and masterpieces of Spanish Golden Age theater. Usually offered every year.
Ms. Fox

HISP 111b Introduction to Latin American Literature and Culture
[ fl hum nw ]
Prerequisite: HISP 106b, or HISP 108a, or permission of the instructor.
Examines key Latin American texts of different genres (poems, short stories and excerpts from novels, chronicles, comics, screenplays, cyberfiction) and from different time periods from the conquest to modernity. This class places emphasis on problems of cultural definition and identity construction as they are elaborated in literary discourse. Identifying major themes (coloniality and emancipation, modernismo and modernity, indigenismo, hybridity and mestizaje, nationalisms, Pan-Americanism, etc.) we will trace continuities and ruptures throughout Latin American intellectual history. Usually offered every semester
Mr. Rosenberg or Mr. Arellano

HISP 120b Don Quijote
[ fl hum ]
Prerequisite: HISP 109b, or HISP 110a, or HISP 111b, or permission of the instructor.
A reading for fun and critical insight into what is often called "the first modern novel." Discusses some reasons for its reputation as a major influence on fiction and films throughout the Western world. Usually offered every second year.
Ms. Fox

HISP 121b Teatro Español: Lope y Lorca
[ fl hum ]
Prerequisite: HISP 109b, or HISP 110a, or HISP 111b, or permission of the instructor.
Examines drama of Federico García Lorca (1898-1936) in the context of that of Lope de Vega (1561-1635), considering theories of theater, gender, and sexuality. Both writers were renowned during their lifetimes and mythicized afterwards for their art and their remarkable personal lives. Usually offered every second year.
Ms. Fox

HISP 125b Literary Women in Early Modern Spain
[ fl hum ]
Prerequisite: HISP 109b, or HISP 110a, or HISP 111b, or permission of the instructor.
Examines works by and about women in early modern Spain, with particular attention to engagements with and subversions of patriarchal culture in theater, prose, and poetry. Writers include Caro, Zayas, Cervantes, and Tirso de Molina. Usually offered every second year.
Ms. Fox

HISP 128b Picaros, Prostitutes, and Peasants: Representations of the Underclass in Early Modern Spain
[ fl hum ]
Prerequisite: HISP 109b, or HISP 110a, or HISP 111b, or permission of the instructor.
Explores cultural expressions of privation and privilege through the lenses of economic means, ethnicity, gender and religion in early modern Spain. Texts include a picaresque novel, a dialog set in a bawdy house, and a play about class and gender violence. Usually offered every second year.
Ms. Fox

HISP 140a Topics in Poetry
[ fl hum ]
Prerequisite: HISP 109b, or HISP 110a, or HISP 111b, or permission of the instructor.
Topics vary from year to year, but may focus on different periods, poets, or poetics from both sides of the Atlantic. Study may include jarchas, Garcilaso de la Vega, Bécquer, the Generation of '98 or '27, Neruda, Vallejo, Rosario Castellanos, Octavio Paz, Huidobro, Borges. Usually offered every second year.
Mr. Mandrell

HISP 160a Culture and Social Change in Latin America
[ fl hum nw wi ]
Prerequisite: HISP 109b, or HISP 110a, or HISP 111b, or permission of the instructor.
Examines the relationship between the arts (including literature, film, and fine arts) and society in Latin America during the twentieth century by focusing on three historical conjunctures when this relationship was particularly rich: the political and artistic vanguards of the 1920s (with particular attention to the Mexican Revolution and its aftermath); the 1960s, marked by the historical turning point of the Cuban Revolution; and the decade of the 1990s, characterized by the transition to democracy, the emergence of human rights and other social movements. Usually offered every second year.
Mr. Rosenberg

HISP 161b Reality Effects: From the Non-Fiction Novel to the Reality Show
[ fl hum nw ]
Prerequisite: HISP 109b, or HISP 110a, or HISP 111b, or permission of the instructor.
Explores the pursuit of the illusion of reality in modern/contemporary Latin American narrative, documentary film, and media. We focus on four case studies: realist fiction; documentary film; testimonial discourses; reality television and its influence on contemporary fiction from the region. Usually offered every second year.
Mr. Arellano

HISP 164b Studies in Latin American Literature
[ fl hum nw wi ]
Prerequisite: HISP 109b, or HISP 110a, or HISP 111b, or permission of the instructor. Course may be repeated for credit.
A comparative and critical study of main trends, ideas, and cultural formations in Latin America. Topics vary year to year and have included fiction and history in Latin American literature, nation and narration, Latin American autobiography, art and revolution in Latin America, and humor in Latin America. Usually offered every year.
Mr. Rosenberg

HISP 165b The Storyteller: Short Fiction in Latin America
[ fl hum nw ]
Prerequisite: HISP 109b, or HISP 110a, or HISP 111b, or permission of the instructor.
Through a study of Latin American short stories, we will reflect on the power of storytelling and fictional narrative to shape subjectivity and community. We will also examine some culturally specific topics reflected in these stories, such as conflictive cultural filiations (pre-Columbian, European, etc), the tension between literacy and oral traditions, the dynamics of modernity in the periphery, and the formation of the reading public and citizenship. This class has an experiential-creative component, as students will have the chance to write fiction applying techniques studied in class. In addition, when the practicum is offered students will have the opportunity to organize a story-telling event working with Waltham's Spanish-speaking community. Usually offered every third year.
Mr. Rosenberg

HISP 167b Twice-Told Tales: Colonial Imaginaries and Postcolonial Fictions in the Americas
[ fl hum nw ]
Prerequisites: HISP 109b, or HISP 110a, or HISP 111b, or permission of the instructor.
Explores the ongoing and often conflicted dialogue that writers, essayists and filmmakers in the modern/contemporary Americas establish with texts, historical figures, and socio-cultural processes of the colonial period. Usually offered every second year.
Mr. Arellano

HISP 170a Topics in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Spanish Literature
[ fl hum ]
Prerequisite: HISP 109b, or HISP 110a, or HISP 111b, or permission of the instructor. Course may be repeated for credit.
Topics will vary from year to year, but might include Spanish Enlightenment and romanticism: costumbrismo, Romantic drama, Bécquer, Galdós (the novelas contemporáneas), or eighteenth- and nineteenth-century poetry of the sublime. Usually offered every second year.
Mr. Mandrell

HISP 175b Contemporary Latin American Fiction
[ fl hum ]
Prerequisite: HISP 109b, or HISP 110a, or HISP 111b, or permission of the instructor.
Explores excerpts from works of fiction by Nobel-prize laureates Gabriel García Márquez and Mario Vargas Llosa, published in the 1960's and 70's, then contrasts these narratives to very recent developments in Latin American fiction of the 21st century. We will discuss how contemporary writers in Latin America depart from their famous predecessors and set out to explore a range of new topics, including global pop culture, the Latin American drug trade, and love relationships in cyberspace. Usually offered every second year.
Mr. Arellano

HISP 181a Autores, narradores y lectores
[ fl hum ]
Prerequisite: HISP 109b or HISP 110a or HISP 111b, or permission of the instructor.
Considers the delicate relationships between and among authors, narrators, and readers across a spectrum of Spanish fiction, from medieval to modern. Usually offered every second year.
Mr. Mandrell

HISP 185b España 20XX
[ fl hum ]
Prerequisites: HISP 109b, HISP 110a, HISP 111b, or permission of the instructor.
Looks at cultural production and its context in Spain for an entire calendar year. The goal is to familiarize students with what has been read and watched in Spain most recently and to understand it in terms of contemporary politics and society. Usually offered every second year.
Mr. Mandrell

HISP 192b Latin American Global Film
[ fl hum nw ]
Prerequisites: HISP 109b, or HISP 110a, or HISP 111b, or permission of the instructor.
Studies films that re-imagine Latin America’s place in the world, focusing on how images are produced and consumed transnationally. ‘Traditional’ topics like cultural identity are refashioned for international consumption, and local issues are dramatized as already crisscrossed by global flows of which the films themselves partake. Close analysis of visual representation and film techniques will be complemented in each case by a study of historical and cultural background. Usually offered every second year.
Mr. Rosenberg

HISP 193b Topics in Cinema
[ hum wi ]
Open to all students; conducted in English. Course may be repeated for credit.
Topics vary from year to year but might include consideration of a specific director, an outline of the history of a national cinema, a particular moment in film history, or Hollywood cinema in Spanish. Usually offered every second year.
Mr. Mandrell or Mr. Rosenberg

HISP 194b Borderland Literature and Visual Culture in Latin America and the United States
[ hum nw wi ]
Open to all students; conducted in English.
Examines literature, visual art, and cinema produced at the intersection between North and South America, focusing on the U.S.-Mexico border, the Southern United States, and immigrant Latino communities. We consider works by William Faulkner, Toni Morrison, Gabriel García Márquez, Junot Díaz, Roberto Bolaño, Coco Fusco, Lourdes Portillo, and Luis Valdez, among others. Usually offered every second year.
Mr. Arellano

HISP 196a Topics in Latina/o Literature and Culture
[ hum ]
May be repeated for credit. Taught in English.
Offers students the opportunity for in-depth study of a particular aspect of the diverse literary and cultural production of U.S. latinas and latinos. Topics will vary from year to year but may include autobiography, detective fiction, or historical fiction. Usually offered every third year.
Mr. Mandrell

HISP 198a Experiential Research Seminar in Literary and Cultural Studies
[ fl hum wi ]
Prerequisite: HISP 109b or HISP 110a or HISP 111b, or permission of the instructor.
A research seminar in which each student has the opportunity to become an “expert” in a Hispanic literary or cultural text/topic that captures her or his imagination, inspired by a study abroad experience; an earlier class in Hispanic Studies; community-engaged learning; etc. Instruction in literary/cultural theory, researching a subject, and analytical skills necessary for developing a scholarly argument. Students present research in progress and write a research paper of significant length. Usually offered every year.
Mr. Rosenberg, Ms. Fox, or Mr. Arellano