Courses in Spanish
[Please see the Directory of Classes for the timetable of courses with multiple sections. Readings, assignments, and class discussion in Spanish unless otherwise noted.]
Elementary Spanish I
4 pts. Prerequisites: placement score 0-279 in the department's Placement Examination. An introduction to Spanish communicative competence, with stress on basic oral interaction, reading, witting, and cultural knowledge. Principal objectives are to understand and produce commonly used sentences to satisfy immediate needs; ask and answer questions about personal details such as where we live, people we know and things we have; interact in a simple manner with people who speak clearly, slowly and are ready to cooperate; and understand simple and short written and audiovisual texts in Spanish.
Elementary Spanish II
4 pts. Prerequisites: SPAN W1101 or a score of 280-379 in the department's Placement Examination. An intensive introduction to Spanish language communicative competence, with stress on basic oral interaction, reading, witting and cultural knowledge as a continuation of Spanish W1101. Main objectives are to understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of immediate relevance; communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a direct exchange of information on familiar matters; describe in simple terms aspects of our background and personal history; understand the main point, the basic content, and the plot of filmic as well as short written texts.
Rapid Reading and Translation
3 pts. Prerequisites: Offered only to graduate students in GSAS. This course, conducted in English, is designed to help graduate students from other departments gain proficiency in reading and translating Spanish texts for scholarly research. The course prepares students to take the Reading Proficiency Exam that most graduate departments demand to fulfill the foreign-language proficiency requirement in that language. Graduate students with any degree of knowledge of Spanish are welcome. A grade of A- or higher in this class will satisfy the GSAS foreign language proficiency requirement in Spanish.
Comprehensive Beginning Spanish
4 pts. Prerequisites: a score below 379 in the department's Placement Examination or some previous exposure to the language. One-term intensive coverage of the contents of SPAN W1101 and SPAN W1102. A student may not receive credit for both SPAN W1120 and the sequence SPAN W1101-SPAN W1102.
Intermediate Spanish I
4 pts. Prerequisites: SPAN W1102 or SPAN W1120, or a score of 380-449 in the department's Placement Examination. An intensive course in Spanish language communicative competence, with stress on oral interaction, reading, writing, and culture as a continuation of SPAN W1102 or SPAN W1120.
Intermediate Spanish II
4 pts. Prerequisites: SPAN W1201 or a score of 450-624 in the department's Placement Examination. An intensive course in Spanish language communicative competence, with stress on oral interaction, reading, witting and culture as a continuation of SPAN W1201.
Spanish for Spanish-Speaking Students
4 pts. Prerequisite: a score of 450-624 (a placement recommendation of SPAN W1202) in the department's Placement Examination and oral fluency in Spanish. Designed for native and non-native Spanish-speaking students who have oral fluency beyond the intermediate level but have had no formal language training. (If you place below Spanish W1202 in the placement exam you should follow the placement recommendation received with your test results. If you place above Spanish W1202, you should take Spanish W3300. If in doubt, please consult the Director of the Language Programs.)
Comprehensive Intermediate Spanish
4 pts. Prerequisites: SPAN W1102 or SPAN W1120, or a score of 380-624 in the department's Placement Examination. One-term intensive coverage of the contents of SPAN W1201 and SPAN W1202. A student may not receive credit for both SPAN W1220 and the sequence SPAN W1201-SPAN W1202 or the equivalent Barnard sequence SPAN BC1203-SPAN BC1204.
Advanced Language through Content
(descriptions of individual sections)
3 pts. Prerequisites: Fulfillment of the language requirement. An intensive exposure to advanced points of Spanish grammar and structure through written and oral practice, along with an introduction to the basic principles of academic composition in Spanish. Each section is based on the exploration of an ample theme that serves as the organizing principle for the work done in class. This course is required for the major and the concentration in Hispanic Studies unless exemption is granted by the Director of the Language Programs or the Director of Undergraduate Studies.
Introduction to the Study of Hispanic Cultures
3 pts. Requirements: SPAN W3300. The course constitutes a wide-ranging consideration of cultural production with a view to making students aware of its historical and constructed nature. Students will explore concepts such as language, history and nation; culture (national, popular, mass, and high); the social role of literature; the work of cultural institutions; globalization and migration; and the discipline of Cultural Studies. The course is divided into weekly units that address these subjects in turn, and through which students will also acquire the fundamental vocabulary for the analysis of cultural objects. Spanish W3330 gives students the conceptual framework with which to engage in the study of Hispanic culture in Spanish W3349 and Spanish W3350. This course is required for the major and the concentration in Hispanic Studies.
Hispanic Cultures I: Islamic Spain through the Colonial Period
3 pts. Requirements: SPAN W3330. This course provides an overview of the cultural history of the Hispanic world, from eighth-century Islamic and Christian Spain and the pre-Hispanic Americas through the late Middle Ages and Early Modern period until about 1700, and covering texts and cultural artifacts from both Spain and the colonial areas that would eventually become the various countries of Spanish America. Students will become familiar with major events and significant political, social and cultural trends in the Iberian Peninsula and the Americas before the eighteenth century, including such topics as oral vs. manuscript vs. print culture, elite vs. popular culture, conquest and resistance, transculturation, and the links between cultural production and ideology. Emphasis will be placed on the historical context and on the development of close reading skills. This course is required for the major and the concentration in Hispanic Studies.
Modern Hispanic Culture: From the Enlightenment to the Present
3 pts. Requirements: SPAN W3330. This course surveys cultural production of Spain and Spanish America from the eighteenth to the twenty-first centuries. Students will acquire the knowledge needed for the study of the cultural manifestations of the Hispanic world in the context of modernity. Among the issues and events studied will be the Enlightenment as ideology and practice, the Napoleonic invasion of Spain, the wars of Spanish American independence, the fin-de-siècle and the cultural avant-gardes, the wars and revolutions of the twentieth century (Spanish Civil War, the Mexican and Cuban revolutions) and the Hispanic presence in the United States. The goal of the course is to study some key moments of this trajectory through the analysis of representative texts, works of art, and film. Emphasis will be placed on the historical context and on the development of close reading skills. This course is required for the major and the concentration in Hispanic Studies.
Latin American and Latino Art Archives: Theory, Practice, Display
TR 2:40 - 3:55
4 pts. This undergraduate seminar is a practicum for developing interdisciplinary approaches to the use, interpretation, and exhibition of art archives, with special emphasis on the way in which archival materials and artistic documentation have been instrumental in the articulation and critique of the idea of Latin American and Latino art of the 20th and 21st centuries. The course explores three different areas: 1) archival theories (the Latino/Latin American art archive as an object of study); 2) documentary centers in and beyond the museum (the collection, organization, and digitization of art archives for researching purposes); 3) and the use of artist's papers within the exhibition (the 'artistification' of documents, and the 'archival turn' of curatorial discourses). During the course, students will analyze how archives constitute institutional and epistemic authority, how museums discriminate between artworks and art documentation, as well as how we can narrate counter-histories from and against the archive.
Students will be exposed to archival materials put into storage in diverse local museums and documentary centers. An important component of this course will be the direct contact with Latino and Latin American repositories in New York. In order to achieve this aim, a series of visits to the most important local archives and museums will be scheduled, such as the Latino Art and Activism Collection (Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race at Columbia), the Museo del Barrio, the Archives of Latino and Latin American Art at MoMA, the Bronx Museum of the Art, and the Americas Society.
Finally, this course will pay special attention to the 'digital' turn of humanities, that is, to the democratization of knowledge production technologies and the configuration of new databases and online open source repositories. Thus, Latino and Latin American art archives will be described in this course not only as bridges between museums, libraries, and universities, but also as crossroads between North and South America.
A Reader of Early Modern Spain
MW 11:40 - 12:55
4 pts. It is impossible to separate literature from its material, social, and political conditions of production and consumption. But if the fields of literary criticism and cultural history are interwoven, how should we read and define literature? To what extent are poems or novels objects as well as texts? In addition to authors, how do readers, editors, and publishers shape a text’s meaning? Focusing on early modern Spain, this class is an introduction to the study of manuscripts and early printed books. Like many specialists in the history of reading and material culture, we will use Cervantes’s Don Quijote as a foundation, but we will also study poetry, letters, biblical commentary, and treatises on printing from the early modern period. Each of our texts will describe or thematize the acts of writing, printing, and reading. Throughout the semester we will thus toggle between “close readings” of these texts’ themes, vocabulary, and imagery, on the one hand, and their histories of edition, publication, circulation, and preservation, on the other hand. In this way, we will consider what it means to be a reader of and in early modern Spain. In order to contemplate these material concerns first hand, we will visit New York area archives and museums, and each student will undertake a semester long research project using primary sources. Drawing in part on works by early modern pedagogues like Juan Luis Vives and Francisco Sánchez de las Brozas, we will discuss strategies for research, writing, and revision. We will also study works by Benito Arias Montano, Luís de Camões, Antonio de Guevara, Fernando de Herrera, Cristóbal Suárez de Figueroa, Teresa de Ávila, and Garcilaso de la Vega, as well as scholarly essays or book chapters by Roland Barthes, Roger Chartier, Hipólito Escolar, Michel Foucault, D. F. McKenzie, and others.
Short Fiction in Latin America
TR 1:10 - 2:25
4 pts. In this course we will discuss the theory and practice of short fiction by the leading exponents of the genre in Spanish America. Authors to be discussed will include: Horacio Quiroga, Jorge Luis Borges, Julio Cortázar, Juan Rulfo, José Donoso, Rosario Castellanos, Augusto Monterroso, Rosario Ferré, Gabriel García Márquez, Angélica Gorodischer, Roberto Bolaño, and Andrea Maturana.
Introduction to Spanish Pragmatics: What do We Do When We Speak Spanish?
MW 4:10 - 5:25
4 pts. Prerequisites: SPAN W3349 or SPAN W3350. Pragmatics is a most helpful criterion in the interpretation of many different types of texts. As a new course within our Department's curriculum this instrument of rhetoric analysis is a basic tool in the comprehension of our students' discourse in their literary, cultural, and critical papers. The main objective of this new course is twofold: 1. To provide the student with criteria for analyzing oral discourse beyond Syntax and Semantics. The Pragmatic approach proposed here interprets communication not through forms but through context and cognitive conditions; 2. To improve not only the student's linguistic and communicative competence in Spanish but also their pragmatic skills while giving them ample opportunities to use the language.
Configurations of Time in Contemporary American Art and Fiction
MW 10:10 - 11:25
4 pts. What is "the contemporary"? The question, insistent in ongoing debates in the arts field, has opened broader social, cultural and political queries on our experience of time during the last decades. How do we configure the present, imagine the future and refigure the past? Do we live in global synchronicity or in local out of sync? As twentieth-century faith in teleological progress was abandoned, mobilitiy fostered disruptive temporalities and cyberculture brought inmediate and infinite hyperconnection, Latin American writers, visual artists and filmmakers have figured new topological ways of spatializing time and representing the multifarious present of globalized culture. The course will study works of writers and artists from Mexico, Argentina, Chile and Spain -from Roberto Bolaño and Francis Alÿs to Mario Bellatin and Alan Pauls- focusing on new logics of narrative causality, new mappings of time and new uses of archives and seriality, furthered by the experience of wandering, acceleration and interwoven temporalities. It will also focus on narrative and visual strategies for resisting the pace of the information economy, "recovering time," "re-presenting" the past, and renewing the dialogue with tradition, by means of anachronic rereadings, sampling, appropriation, reboot and mutation. The class will be conducted in Spanish.
Labor Culture in Twentieth-Century Latin America
MW 2:40 - 3:55
4 pts. Industrial modernization often went hand-in-hand with the constitution of a new kind of national-popular culture during the twentieth century in Latin America .For many such projects, becoming a political subject meant being a worker. This course will interrogate the ways in which labor and culture informed and produced one another, from the Mexican muralists’ use of industrial materials and techniques in the 1920s in the constitution of a their spectators to the creation of the “credit card citizen; of consumption in the late 1990s. Class discussions and writing assignments will analyze novels, essays, short stories, chronicles, films and works of visual art in order to pose and answer some of the following questions: How is work imagines and represented at different historical moments and what ideaological role might such representations play? How do artists and writers think about the nature, organization and political import of their work in relation to other kinds of intellectual and manual labor? In what ways and in what contexts do labor and labor movements become the protagonists of radical political change? Alternatively, to what extent do the tactics of political revolution imply a laborious exercise of their own? How do such artists, writers and thinkers conceive of work before and after capitalism? Authors to be studies may include Diego Rivera, Alfaro Siqueiros, Jorge Luis Borges, Eduardo Coutinho, José Carlos Mariátegui and Ernesto Guevara, among others.
Made in Latin America: Consumer Culture and Contemporary Narratives
TR 10:10 - 11:25
4 pts. The course focuses on consumer culture in contemporary Latin America throughout literature, essays, visual texts, films and new cultural experiences as “poor tourism” and food. The course discusses the problem of peripheral countries in the globalized economy and how culture offers a place of reflection and interchange of new experience. In the frame of the new consumer culture studies, we will study works and practices where consumerism is a political issue. Students will be introduced to theoretical writing on consumerism in different contexts (Argentina, Brazil, México, Perú). This course will provide students with an accurate understanding of some of the topics of contemporary Latin American culture related to the market, aesthetics and politics including topics as elite culture vs. popular culture, practices of resistance, representation of the violence, cities as spectacles and new phenomena as “poor tourism” and landfill art. The class will be conducted in Spanish and all written assignments will also be in that language.
Introduction to Undergraduate Research
MW 1:10 - 2:25
4 pts. The "Introduction to Undergraduate Research" will ensure that majors, concentrators, and other students in advance courses in the Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures (LAIC) master the skills, techniques, and practices they will need to undertake research in Latin American and Iberian Cultures and to pursue further lines of inquiry within the humanities.
Throughout this course, students will hone their academic writing skills in Spanish, Portuguese, and/or Catalan while they develop the necessary methodology to identify and approach primary sources, understand the manual and digital systems of analysis of those sources, and conduct bibliographical research toward advance scholarship. Over the course of the semester, students will propose, research, plan and write an article-length research paper on the topic of their choice, which they will have the opportunity to submit to the LAIC Journal of Undergraduate Research. The seminar will familiarize students with the resources and tools that will help them to pursue such a project, including Columbia's library and archival collections, other institutional libraries accessible digitally, annotation and citation apps, and word-processing programs that are ideal for large-scale writing projects. As such, the course will be largely methodological, designed to provide hands-on knowledge to students that will both orient them within the field of Latin American and Iberian Cultures and arm them with research and project-planning skills that are applicable beyond the discipline.
W 9:00 - 10:50
This course will work retrospectively through the transatlantic Hispanic tradition, analyzing essays, poems, novels and movies that locate themselves against the larger structure of an empire (be it US, British or Spanish) and its corresponding webs of translation and trade. While “travel writing” in the Hispanic tradition has long included accounts of the New World written back to Spanish readers, we will examine other vectors as well: texts written back to the New World by American travelers in Europe, Spanish and Spanish American impressions of the burgeoning US empire, and textual and cinematic attempts to position the local within a global community of observers, readers and/or viewers. Central topics include the manipulation of the trope of civilization vs. barbarity, the peripheral critique of global capitalism, the question of local vs. universal perspectives on culture, and, above all, the aesthetic and political agendas that further (and are furthered by) the notion of cosmopolitanism, that “placeless place” (in the words of Camilla Fojas) “that remains to be thought.”