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, writing, 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, writing, 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.
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, writing and culture as a continuation of SPAN W1201.
Spanish for Spanish-Speaking Students
3 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 Coordinator 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.
Literature of the Spanish Caribbean
3 pts. This course offers an introduction to some of the key writers and foundational works from the insular Spanish Caribbean. We will read 19th, 20th, and 21st century novels, short stories, essays, and poetry from Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico side-by- side to compare and contrast how they represent their respective national communities and cultures. We will also pay close attention to the role and significance that these Caribbean authors assign to class, race, gender and sexuality in the cultural formations that they address.
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.
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.
Hispanic Cultures II: 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.
Vice and Virtue
3 pts. When Colombian novelist and literary critic Soledad Acosta de Samper declared in 1895 that the cause of “moralizing” Spanish American society was a task that female writers shared with the rest of the continent’s women, she was, in effect, placing a gender claim on a very old notion of the purpose of literature. A hundred years before the Peruvian-born Pablo de Olavide had begun his long epistolary novel (El evangelio en triunfo) by lamenting that the publishing industry of his era had not yet managed to harness its resources into a single volume that would make Christian doctrine and morality palatable to enlightened readers. What both writers shared was a sense of the imperceptible ability of narrative to transmit moral sensibility. This power—U.S. educational reformer Charles Brooks would call it “moral electricity”—served at once as a justification and a social charge for writers and publishers. Believers in the book as the media force capable of shifting social consciousness, the writers and critics of nineteenth-century Spanish America peppered their works with equal parts optimism and dread, as the same art that renders virtue desirable could be turned over to the service of vice. Their new or at least newly distributed art conjured a notion of the American hemisphere on the one hand as a new moral Paradise and on the other as a place where the battle against moral chaos could still go disastrously wrong.
Image Making in Iberian Worlds
3 pts. This course aims to introduce undergraduate students to the variety of artistic forms created between the XVth and the XVIIIth centuries in the four parts of the world as an unpredictable consequence of the expansion projects of Portugal and Spain from Europe to America, Asia and Africa. This variety can be analyzed as the fruit of the reciprocal transformations between local (Taíno, Mexica, Maya, Inca, Japanese, Moghol, Sapi, but also Venetian, Flemish, etc.) traditions and the complex phenomenon of the curculation of objects throughout the planet. The impact of Western models (Christian iconographies, perspective techniques, new architectural construction systems, etc.), materials and media (engraving, oil painting, etc.) on these local traditions will be addressed, as well as the reverse influence of local traditions on Western models and techniques. From codices of New Spain to Japanese screen-folds, and from Indian or African ivory-imagery to Peruvian colonial textiles, encompassing mother-pearl mosaics, feather-paintings, silk nun-shields, graffiti, corn sculptures, kero-cups, obsidian-mirror crosses, maps, as well as more "canonical" media (oil and wall-painting, wood-sculpture, silver or gold production etc.), the course will continuously place each object in its specific historical, political and anthropological context.
The making of these images and objects will be understood as a concrete aesthetic relationship between factura and idea, that is to say, between the most tangible and material aspects of their manufacture and the different ideas, meanings, interpretations and discourses involved in these same productions. We will also pay attention to the heterogeneous uses of these images, which range from the juridical (use of painted codices as testimonial proofs in trials) to the administrative (use of maps to organize and govern a territory), from the liturgical (use of new Christian imageries in churches) to the political (sending of gifts throughout the planet), and from the illicit (graffiti) to the civic (mural decorations in a colonial officer's house).
3 pts. 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 double fold: 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.
Excavating the Visual Present Tense: Pre-Hispanic Imagery in the Post-1992 Latin American Art World
3 pts. Artistic expressions and aesthetic imageries of the so-called pre-Hispanic cultures have always been an important and controversial ingredient of the Latin American Studies and Transatlantic Studies agendas. For instance, Andean and Mesoamerican codices have always accompanied travel writing on its voyages, fueling exotic representations of extinct civilizations and unleashing in European and American social scientists and art critics an insatiable desire to anthropologically reveal and aesthetically rediscover the Pre-Hispanic past. It is well known for instance how modernist art critics and avant-gardist travelling artists such as Xul Solar, Diego Rivera, and Joaquín Torres-García studied the pre-Hispanic art exhaustively in an attempt to establish a two-way dialogue between native and international culture, between timelessness and the aesthetic transformation of the present, between logocentric European visual vocabularies and the telluric grammar of the continent, between Ariel (idealized Hispanic Americanism), Prometheus (the decadent wisdom of the old world) and Caliban (who stopped representing the utilitarian mentality of the United States and became an allegory of a peripheral, cannibalistic and genuinely revolutionary identity).
Closer to 1992 (euphemistically described as the ‘five-hundredth anniversary of the encounter between two worlds’), the deconstructivist historiographic thinking that went hand in hand with the rhetoric of postmodernity also turned its gaze towards the idea of Pre-Hispanic aesthetics and tried to see contact zones of the early modernity as an ideal space for global convergence and cross-cultural hybridization. If deconstructing the grand narrative of art history really consisted of analyzing the colonial text, could there be a more perfect site than the Pre-Hispanic codex in which to do so?
As might be expected, after 1992 several Latin American contemporary artists have been using traditional or new media to deal with the legacies of the colonial mentality, to reinterpret the pre-Hispanic world, and to disrupt the geopolitical imaginary of the Ibero-American cultural space. Now, whereas avant-garde artists saw in the pre-Hispanic aesthetics the foundational universal language of the twentieth century abstractionist movements, the tendency of the vast majority of the contemporary artists that will be discussed during this course is rather to appropriate the pre-Hispanic aesthetics in a more irreverent, parodist or decolonial way. Thus, the aim of this course is to analyze the emergence of the so-called ‘neo-Pre-Hispanic’ aesthetic turn in the post-1992 Latin American artistic practices. As we will see during the course, this ‘aesthetic turn’ suggests the emergence of a new way of invoking the Pre-Hispanic past from the present. Using the ‘imperfect past tense’ grammatical formula and the idea of the ‘visual present tense’ as an archeological metaphor for the visual analysis of contemporary culture, this course will criticized the tendency to ‘narrate’ the Pre-Hispanic from a dual perspective: as the fantasy of a mythical past, and as an aesthetic force with the power to reorganize the present.
During the course we will discuss a variety of contemporary artistic strategies, which attempt to deal, to neglect or to appropriate the pre-Hispanic world, such as the production of new postmodern codices, the falsification of authentic pre-Hispanic artworks, the hybridization of pre-Columbian and modern aesthetics, or the critique of the archeological ‘patrimonialization’ of the past.Students will read diverse texts including historical documents, artistic manifestos, institutional statements, and theoretical literature related to interplays between current artistic practices and the idea of the pre-Hispanic. Case studies will include artists such as Pedro Lasch, Nadin Ospina, Guillermo Gómez-Peña, Silvia Gruner, Betsabé Romero, Thomas Glassford, Pablo Vargas Lugo, José Bedia, Felipe Ehrenberg, José González, Enrique Chagoya, Demián Flores, Rubén Ortiz Rubio, Gabriel Orozco, Coco Fusco, Juan Downey, Belkis Ayon, Adriana Varejao, and Pepón Osorio, among others.
Mapping Early Modern Europe
3 pts. When early modern soldiers, explorers, and conquistadors crisscrossed the Mediterranean Sea and traversed the Atlantic Ocean, where did they think they were going and what did they expect to find? How did they and others imagine and record the familiar Old World and alien New World in writing, images, and maps? What Biblical, classical, and medieval paradigms helped these authors to make sense of the biological and cultural diversity encountered on these journeys, and how did the effort to document and understand this difference transform the conventions of literary representation and scientific inquiry? If imperial maps and globes—like the many genres of travel and conquest literature—were both records of exploration and forms of political propaganda, to what extent was cartography itself a kind of imperial fiction? In seeking to understand this multifaceted mapping of empire, we will read a variety of different kinds of text, including scripture, epic and lyric poetry, letters, theater, and political treatises. We will also study medieval and early modern maps themselves, some of which are held in New York area archives and many of which are accessible online. Although our readings focus on Spanish language authors (Cabeza de Vaca, Cervantes, Colón, Cortés, Ruiz de Alarcón), we will also study contemporary texts produced in other languages (Erasmus, Montaigne, More, Rabelais) and ancient and medieval models (Homer, Lucian, Marco Polo).
Cuba Inside and Out
3 pts. The class will study works of Cuban literature, mostly fiction, written inside and outside of the island during the last half-century. Authors to be discussed include: Guillermo Cabrera Infante, Miguel Barnet, Zoé Valdés, Leonardo Padura, Mayra Montero, Reinaldo Arenas, Chely Lima, Oscar Hijuelos, Cristina García, and Richard Blanco.
Senior Seminar - Avant Garde and Pop in Latin America
T 9:00am - 11:25am
4 pts. Avant-Garde and pop culture were two key moments in the definition of transatlantic relationship between Latin American and Spain during the twentieth century. The course focuses on the problem of cultural changes and revolutions in contexts of populism, crisis and war during the twenties and sixties. Traditions and novelty will be main categories to interrogate manifests, essays, poetry and visual texts. The main hypothesis is that the problem of "modernity" in peripheral cultures and its relationships becomes an instrument to create a particular aesthetic practice that mixes elite culture, mass culture, traditions, politics and ethics. Students will be introduced to theoretical writing on Avant-Garde, pop and mass culture in Hispanic American contexts. This course will provide students with an accurate understanding of some of the topics of modern Hispanic American culture.
T 12:10pm - 2:00pm