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Advanced Undergraduate and MA-level Courses | SPRING 2019


Advanced undergraduate and MA-level courses to be offered during the spring 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.


This course presents the students with the information and basic tools needed to interpret a broad range of topics and cultural production from the Portuguese-speaking world: literary, filmic, artistic, architectural, urban, etc. We will use a continuing cross-disciplinary dialogue to study everyday acts as a location of culture. This course will center on interpretation as an activity and as the principal operation though which culturally sited meaning is created and analyzed. Among the categories and topics discussed will be history, national and popular cultures, literature (high/low), cultural institutions, migration, and globalization. Students will also acquire the fundamental vocabulary for the analysis of cultural objects.

  • Lusophone Africa / Afro-Brazilian Cultures (PORT UN3350) | João Nemi Neto

This course focuses on Lusophone African and African Brazilian cultures and the relations, continuities, ruptures and influences between them. Brazil is the result of the miscegenation of Ameridians, African and Europeans, and this means that is also a cultural mélange of these groups. The African cultural contribution to Brazilian culture and grand-narrative is the primary focus of this course, however, to understand Brazil one needs to understand the cultural diversity found in Lusophone Africa, with which Brazil has had a long relationship. The readings for this course include texts from different disciplines and genres. We will study texts, movies and other forms of visual arts from the following authors: José Eduardo Agualusa, Pepetela, Mia Couto, Jorge Amado, Achille, Mbembe, Hilton Costa, Jocélio Teles dos Santos, Livio Sansone, José Luis Cabaço, Benedita da Silva and Solano Trindade.

This course introduces students to crucial intellectual and cultural trajectories traversing fields such as gender, race, sexuality, religion, media, technology, aesthetics, politics, and popular cultures in modern and contemporary Brazil. Historical periods will be presented in connection to a particular theme of ongoing cultural expressions. Diverse elements of popular culture are included in order to grasp an ample understanding of the underlying Brazilian historical moments. Students are expected to comprehend the background information but are also encouraged to develop their own perspectives and interests, whether in the social sciences, arts, gender and sexuality, or other areas of knowledge. Students will actively approach Brazilian history and produce analytical and critical approaches to understand and account for the intricacies underlying the dynamic development of Brazilian civilization to the contemporary moment.


Frametale narratives, the art of inserting stories within stories, in oral and written forms, originated in East and South Asia centuries ago; tales familiar to Europe, often called novellas, can trace their development from oral tales to transmitted Sanskrit and Pahlavi tales, as well as Arabic and Hebrew stories. Both Muslim Spain and Christian Spain served as the nexus between the East and Europe in the journey of translation and the creation of new works. Through readings and films, and employing the theoretical concepts of Homi Bhabha (liminality, hybridity, third space) and Etienne Balibar (frontiers and the nation), as well as selected readings of Fernand Braudel and others on the Mediterranean world, the course examines the structure, meaning, and function of ancient, medieval, and early modern frametale narratives, using as theoretical frame in three ways: 1) Theory and practice of frames. Frames are not neutral; they can be narrative seductions, guiding and even strongly manipulating how we read the stories that follow; they can be used to reflect the intersections of orality and literacy. In order to understand their enduring power, we also explore the idea of literary frames through some contemporary films. 2) The exploration in their cultural contexts of topics such as the literary figures of the anti-hero and the trickster, precursors to the picaresque, women in the courtroom, the conflict of chance and human agency, monstrous births as political prophecy, Christian, Muslim, and Jewish relations in medieval and early modern Mediterranean cultures, the sexual frankness of the novella form, and gender politics. 3) How are narratives formed? The course traces the development of the short tale/novella from its ancient Asian origins through the seventeenth century, when Cervantes’ literary experiments gave new life to the novella form, and the Spanish writer María de Zayas challenged Cervantes’ views on love and marriage in her own highly regarded collections of novellas; we move to the present with the study of three contemporary films. But before they became complex and entertaining narratives, many of the well known tales had their “bare bones” origins in joke books, laws and legal theories, conduct manuals, collections of aphorisms and other wise and pithy sayings, misogynist non-fiction writings, and Biblical stories. Although the works are available in English translations, lectures will refer to meanings in both English and the original languages; students who can read the original works in Spanish, Italian, French and/or Latin are encouraged to do so.

Between the 15th and 17th centuries, in the context of the Iberian expansion, the presence and observation of unexpected artistic forms, media, and monuments triggered a new space of inquiry. Novel objects, surfaces, architectures, materials, and ideas about artistry were observed far and near—in the Americas, in Asia, in Africa, and in Europe. They traveled between continents in physical and textual forms: sent and offered as proofs of the new territories, desired and collected as unique treasures, but also described, compared and analyzed in letters, histories, or inventories. All around a sphere that could now be mentally embraced, missionaries, collectors, travelers, historians, and artists felt under the power of novel creations: body painting, gold byobu, intricate sculptures, but also turquoise masks, feather mosaics, painted manuscripts, fish-bone necklaces, ivory spoons, carved temples, monumental cities, and so on. These splendid artworks deeply challenged conceptual boundaries such as those between idol and image, beautiful and frightening, civilized and barbarian, center and periphery, classic and modern, and ancient and new. But most importantly, these artworks and their descriptions in chronicles, histories, and inventories contributed to define humanity as immanently creative—and to conceive artistic creation as a distinctive form of thought.

On October 31st, 2007 a polemic Historical Memory Law was passed by the Spanish Congress. The legislative initiative was only the culmination of a social and cultural change visible since the end of the 80’s: After decades when the building of a new democracy made the memory of the civil war an uncomfortable issue to be avoided by politicians and the general public, an attitude best exemplified by the Amnesty Law that followed Franco’s death in 1977, the arrival of a new younger generation who had not lived under Franco demanded new models of engagement with the past. Political moves were parallel to an explosion of demand and visibility of cultural products about the war. Memory became both a suddenly urgent political issue and a profitable business for a cultural industry that was to produce an endless catalogue of best-selling novels, nostalgic coffee-table books or blockbuster films.

An introductory critical reflection on some of the most influential theories of cultural memory (Huyssen, Nora, Halbwachs) will be the point of departure for the analysis of a wide variety of cultural productions (historiography, film, literature, comic) focused on the civil war. The works by writers Alberto Méndez, Isaac Rosa, Muñoz Molina, Julio Llamazares, film-makers such as Guillermo del Toro, García Berlanga, Agustín Villaronga, Alex de la Iglesia  or historians like Beevor, Payne, Juliá, Pío Moa, Sánchez León will be the materials from which to consider the complex mechanisms of the representations of memory and their inter-action with their socio-political context.

  • Gender, Performance, and Memory: Activism in the Americas (SPAN UN3510) | Daniella Wurst

This course explores the different ways in which artists, activists, and collective movements use performative actions in the public sphere to make social and political interventions in the Americas. Using gender, performance and memory studies as a theoretical framework, this course addresses how performative actions can challenge embedded dominant discourse of power, state political repression, as well as corrupt and patriarchal systems that support gender oppression and violence. We will examine staged theatrical performances and performative and collective actions of protest in countries with a history of State violence and repression; particularly Argentina, Chile, Peru, Mexico, and Guatemala. These actions are not only fueled as actions of protests, but  they reassert identity politics and struggles as well as the right to culture and the exercise of citizenship in the public sphere.  By tracing their similarities and connections, the course opens a dialogue on the role of expressive culture and its relation to citizenry and national belonging. Finally, by continuously engaging with the critical lens of gender, performance, and memory studies theories, the course identifies how the specificity of the different Latin American contexts can contribute, expand, and challenge these theoretical canons.

This course considers how language has traditionally shaped constructs of national identity in the Caribbean vis-à-vis the US. By focusing on language ‘crossings’ in Latinx Caribbean cultural production, we critically explore how various sorts of texts–narrative, drama, performance, poetry, animated TV series, and songs–contest conventional notions of mainstream American, US Latinx, and Caribbean discourses of politics and identities. Taking 20th-century social and historical context into account, we will analyze those contemporary styles and uses of language that challenge monolingual and monolithic visions of national and ethnolinguistic identities, examining societal attitudes, cultural imaginaries, and popular assumptions about the Spanish language in the Greater Caribbean and the US. The language of instruction of this course is English as well as most of the reading materials. Some of the readings will be partially or fully in Spanish. Thus, an intermediate reading comprehension level on this language is required. Essays and other submitted work can be written in English or Spanish.

This a course on Spanish conversation. Students will study and practice features of social interaction in Spanish that are crucial to participate the new culture. This means the course has two learning objectives: One is learning to engage in regular conversations in Spanish; Two is to understand how conversation works. We will cover conversational issues such as gesture, narratives, intonation, opening and closing interactions, turn taking, etc., both in linguistics and social terms. Practice and analysis will be connected: Every week we will consider an aspect of oral interaction in Spanish. We will study those features it in natural occurring conversations among native speakers and we will practice in actual conversations inside and outside the classroom, by means of role play, simulation, film making, debates and interviews. We will use topics of conversation to provide a meaningful environment for the conversation practice.

Last Updated 8 months ago


LAIC, « Advanced Undergraduate and MA-level Courses | SPRING 2019 », Blogs, Columbia University | LAIC, Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures (online), published on November 6, 2018. Full URL for this article

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