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Advanced Undergraduate and MA-level Courses | FALL 2019


Advanced undergraduate and MA-level courses to be offered during the fall 2019 semester. Please contact LAIC's Director of Undergraduate Studies if you have any questions.


  • Advanced Language Through Content (SPAN UN3300)

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 (Please consult the Directory of Classes for the topic of each section.) This course is required for the major and the concentration in Hispanic Studies.

  • Hispanic Cultures I (SPAN UN3349)

Provides students with 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, covering texts and cultural artifacts from both Spain and the Americas. All primary materials, class discussion, and assignments are in Spanish.

  • Hispanic Cultures II (SPAN UN3350)

This course surveys the cultural production of Spain and Latin America from the eighteenth to the twenty-first centuries. Students will acquire the knowledge needed to study 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 Latin 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), neoliberalism, globalization, 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, documents, and works of art. All primary materials, class discussion, and assignments are in Spanish.

  • Senior Seminar: (SPAN UN3991) | Seth Kimmel

This course is a requirement for all the LAIC majors. In this seminar, students develop an individual research project and write an essay under the guidance of the seminar’s instructor and in dialogue with the other participants’ projects  After an introductory theoretical and methodological section, as well as a research session at the library, the syllabus is entirely constructed on the students’ projects. Every participant is in charge of a weekly session. Essay outlines and drafts are discussed with the group throughout the semester. The final session is a public symposium with external respondents.


  • Advanced Language Through Content (PORT UN3300) | Yudi Koike

Corequisites: PORT UN1220 An intensive exposure to advanced points of Portuguese grammar and structure through written and oral practice, along with an introduction to the basic principles of academic composition in Portuguese.  This course is required for the concentration  in Portuguese Studies. This course is intended to improve Portuguese language skills in grammar, comprehension, and critical thinking through an archive of texts from literature, film, music, newspapers, critical reception and more.

  • Conversations About the Lusophone World (PORT UN3101) | TBA

Prerequisites: PORT W1220. This conversation class will help students develop their oral proficiency in Portuguese. We will discuss current events, participate in challenging pronunciation exercises, improve understanding of Portuguese idioms, develop conversation strengths, confront weaknesses, and increase fluency in spoken Portuguese.


  • Race, Medicine and Literature in 19th Century Brazil (PORT UN3601) | Ana Paulina Lee | MW 1:10 – 2:25 p.m.

This course will introduce students to major scientific, racial, and cultural theories that marked 19th century Brazilian society. We will read and discuss how racial ideologies like “whitening,” “miscegenation” and “racial democracy” played critical roles in Brazil’s transition to a republic. We will examine movements such as romanticism, naturalism and positivism in literary and visual works. Throughout, we will analyze literature, illustrations and photography that constructed a relationship between race, science, and medicine to better understand the role that scientific racism played in constructing discourses about national identity. We will read abolitionist writings and anti-racist works that contested these ideologies. We will discuss these issues through the lenses of migration, religion, urbanization, gender, sexuality, and class. Course texts include a range of materials including literature, chronicles, short stories, vaudeville, carnival parades, songs, music, photography, and newspaper articles. Throughout, students will gain a vivid picture of Brazilian society in the early stages of nation building, which will provide new ways of understanding and addressing contemporary challenges in Brazil and beyond.

  • What is Ideology? (SPAN UN3362) | Karen Benezra

The populism that arguably defined twentieth century politics in Argentina challenged liberal and left wing thinkers to reconsider the cultural imaginaries, habits, and organizational structures moving the masses. Irreducible to either doctrine or illusion, ideology would become the center of politics. The issue of what it is and how it works would likewise assume a pivotal place in both literature and social thought.

This course will examine Argentinean narrative, film, political rhetoric, and social theory from the 1930s through the 1970s in order to explore the tension and intersection between two different approaches to the question of ideology. The first, which derives from moral and political philosophy, presumes that individuals are inherently free and asks why, given this condition, we would submit to the unjust authority of others. The second, which derives from the Marxist tradition, argues that ideas emerge from an exploitative social division of labor and yet blind the exploited (and exploiters) to these same material conditions. Combining these two approaches, the texts surveyed ponder the fact that while the genesis of our ideas and customs may be social and objective, they are only actualized and made relevant in the highly subjective realm of politics.

We will study notions such as class and class-consciousness, the revolutionary party, the leader, populism, and madness in the work of Antonio Gramsci, Roberto Arlt, Jorge Luis Borges, Juan Domingo Perón, Ernesto Laclau, and Rodolfo Walsh, among others. Readings and discussions will be in Spanish. Hispanic Cultures II or special permission from the profesor required.

  • Marx at the Margins (SPAN UN3415) | Karen Benezra

El pensador social José Carlos Mariátegui llamó a la invención de un marxismo latinoamericano que no sería “ni calco ni copia” de sus antecedentes europeos. En vez de estudiar la recepción de la teoría marxista en América Latina, este curso examinará las maneras en que pensadores y artistas de izquierda produjeron nuevas teorías y formas como un intento por responder a la especificidad histórica de los procesos sociales y los movimientos políticos a su alrededor. Empezando con la evolución del propio pensamiento de Marx con respecto al potencial revolucionario en la región, analizaremos teoría social, narrativa y cine para comprender las temporalidades y formaciones sociales disyuntivas y superpuestas que caracterizan la articulación del capitalismo en América Latina. Así, pensaremos problemas tales como el papel del imperialismo español en el nacimiento del capitalismo global; la co-existencia y transformación de sociedades capitalistas y pre-capitalistas; la cuestión nacional como ideología y como herramienta política; la relación entre el subdesarrollo económico y la insurrección política; y las relaciones entre nuevas formas de explotación y de subjetividad en la era neoliberal contemporánea. Algunas de las lecturas del curso incluirán las obras de Marx, Martí, Mariátegui y García Linera, entre otros.

  • Survey of Spanish American Literature (SPAN UN3710) | Gustavo Pérez-Firmat

A survey of major works and authors in their historical and personal context, with emphasis on lyric poetry, narrative, and essay.

  • Realisms in Hispanic Film: Politics of Transparency (SPAN UN3574) | Alberto Medina

The conception of the film image not as a visual artifice or a vehicle of imagination but rather as an ethical representation of reality can be traced to some of the first theories and practices of film. Béla Balász, in one of the first formulations of that idea, made explicit the foundational contradiction of an “ideal” reality: “At issue here is the desire… not the desire but the dream of absolute, impersonal objectivity”.

That “dream of objectivity” is behind some of the most important films and trends in Spain and Latin America. The assimilation of Italian Neorealism in the 50′s and 60′s is just part of a history of cinematic realism that cannot be limited to a story of influences. Different conceptions of “reality” and its production/portrayal serve Hispanic film-makers as a privileged vehicle, not only to portray social contexts in constant conflict but also to offer scripts of change from an aesthetic threshold conceived as always already political, to produce “dreams” that refuse to be different from reality.

Classical authors in the orbit of Spanish “neorrealisms” (Nieves Conde, Berlanga) and Latin American Third Cinema (Littin, Birri…) will be studied along with theoretical and programmatic texts (Courbet, Zavattini, Balázs, Metz, Birri, Solanas…) and new conceptions of “realism” in essential films of the last decades (Martel, Reygadas, Leon de Aranoa, Lisandro Alonso…)

  • Interrogating Authoritarianism in Contemporary Spain (SPAN UN3559) | Ana M. Fernández-Cebrián | MW 1:10 – 2:25 p.m.

The course provides a comparative outlook about old and new forms of authoritarianism in Contemporary Spain. By conceiving authoritarianism as a historically produced—and therefore historically changing—notion, we will travel across the twentieth and twenty-first centuries to examine how phenomena associated with different forms of political domination were understood in their time and how they are understood today. Nation-building processes, class and gender conflicts, cultural politics, and the examination of past and current political and social movements will be the center of our discussion.

Several questions will be raised (and hopefully answered) along this journey: How can we understand the specificity of Spanish forms of authoritarianism in the Euro-Atlantic scenario? How can we explain the reappearance of extreme right-wing populisms? How have transnational forces influenced old and new authoritarian dynamics? To address these issues, we will read essays, short stories, graphic novels, as well as theoretical texts that offer varied approaches to history, aesthetics, and politics.  The works by writers Juan Marsé, Sara Mesa, Isaac Rosa, Carmen Martín Gaite, film-makers like Edgar Neville, José Luis Sáenz de Heredia, Carlos Saura or philosophers such as Benjamin, Adorno, Schmitt, Villacañas or Rodríguez Palop will be some of the materials from which to study the cultural logics of Spanish authoritarianism in a Global Age.

  • The Latin American Anthropocene (SPAN UN3656) | Santiago Acosta | TTh 1:10 – 2:25 p.m.

With its long history of colonialism, economic exploitation, and appropriation of natural resources, Latin America offers a privileged vantage point to study the arrival of the “Anthropocene,” a proposed new geological epoch (beginning roughly around the Industrial Revolution) where humans have become the main force shaping the planet. In order to shift the perspective away from the standard narrative of European development, this course invites students to collectively develop the idea of a “Latin American Anthropocene,” by drawing on examples from the visual arts, literature, and scientific and philosophical texts from the underdeveloped periphery. In the age of rising sea levels, mass extinction, and carbon-driven climate change, can our disciplines remain untouched by such an alarming state of affairs? This course encourages students to reflect on how the present ecological crisis forces us to break with traditional ways of understanding society, culture, and nature, as well as with common methods to interpret the past and imagine the future.

We will start by discussing how, in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Latin America, “nature” (including animals and indigenous peoples) was envisioned as a blank slate ready to take in the arrival of modernity. As we move through the semester, students will evaluate how artists and intellectuals sustained or contested different capitalist development programs based on export commodities such as food crops, minerals, and petroleum. In the following sections, students will analyze cultural products linked to the impact of neoliberalism in the region and the contradictions that plagued the governments that came after its downfall. Near the end of the semester the class will address the question of hope and hopelessness in the face of climate change and the challenges posed by increasing political and environmental conflicts in Puerto Rico and the US-Mexico border.

The course also offers a panoramic view of Latin American culture by examining some key historical events and canonical authors (such as Jorge Luis Borges, Julio Cortázar, Alejo Carpentier, and Pablo Neruda), whose works can shed light on cultural and ideological processes at the root of climate change. By the end of the semester students will be able to formulate research questions that are critical to the field of Latin American cultural studies, as well as produce papers that are relevant to a broader debate about culture and ecology. The course, therefore, hopes to motivate students—beyond the classroom—to examine their own place in an increasingly warming world.

  • A Cognitive Linguistics Account of Language (SPAN GR5450) | Reyes Llopis-García

What happens in the minds of people when language is at work? How do we process our surroundings, understand the world we live in, accommodate our own culture as shaper of perceptions… and communicate about it all by using the right words?

Cognitive Linguistics provides a theoretical a framework to understand language as a builder of meaning that stems from interaction with the world. Language emerges in the mind as part of our experience as natural beings in the physical world, and is a direct reflection of it. Meaning, then, is construed as a bridge between all the complex, abstract, intangible thoughts in our minds, and what we can all understand in relatable, identifiable and shared experience: our grounded, tangible, physical position in space. Language, from this point of view, embodies the global cognitive capabilities of all human beings, and is not understood as an independent component of the mind, or an isolated, formal object of study.

In this course, we will explore key concepts that define language in terms of meaning, such as conceptual metaphor and metonymy, mental spaces, prototypes, embodied cognition and gesture, image schemas, Cognitive Grammar, or language learning.

There will be a varied range of genres and materials used from a blended learning and flipped classroom perspective: basic and advanced readings from prominent references in the field, Ted Talks, newspaper articles, and also movie excerpts or music. Individual as well as collaborative work for in and out-of-class discussions will be constant throughout the semester.

Last Updated 1 year ago


LAIC, « Advanced Undergraduate and MA-level Courses | FALL 2019 », Blogs, Columbia University | LAIC, Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures (online), published on April 13, 2019. Full URL for this article

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